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4 benefits of a workplace encouraging their employees to live a healthy lifestyle

4 benefits of a workplace encouraging their employees to live a healthy lifestyle

road to healthy life

For most of us, we spend upwards of up to eight hours a day or more in our workspace. A third of our time is either spent slumped over a computer doing research and typing, leading to a sedentary lifestyle, or standing up for long hours. This is even more in workers that are either in service or manufacturing sectors. Oftentimes this leads to health issues such as weight gain and increased stress which can contribute to mental health issues. A healthy workforce leads to less absenteeism, more productivity, and increased job satisfaction. It is important that our workplace promotes a healthy lifestyle, not only for each individual but for the organization as a whole.

            The World Health Organization started an initiative titled: Be the Change, Promoting a Healthy Lifestyle at the Workplace.The WHO published a 36 page PDF with guidelines and suggestions on how to encourage a healthy lifestyle within the workplace. The BTC initiative was meant for companies to implement in Southeast Asian companies but can be implemented within any country. 

            BTC operates under four principles:

  • Individual empowerment: Change yourself and believe that you are in control of your own habits and health. Every individual change brings greater changes as a result of a chain of effects.
  • Institutional/organizational image/brand: Change your working environment through promotion of healthy and happy workplaces, making health a core business value.
  • Champions and role-modelling: “Good for Business and Good for you” – take actions and be accountable for yourself and others, build communities of practice and champions for healthy lifestyles and healthy workplaces to be positively emulated by others.
  • Partnership: Create a chain of positive energy to bring changes in society and the world at large, to continue to grow, involve and evolve.

The BTC program is built on the principle that individuals have the ability to adopt healthy lifestyles and prevent noncommunicable diseases when supported by a conducive workplace environment.

            The six initiatives encouraged by the BTC program are:

  • WATCH your plate: to promote healthy living.
  • WATCH your waist and weight.
  • WATCH your steps: to promote physical activity.
  • WATCH your stress level.
  • WATCH and monitor your changes: to encourage regular screening.
  • WATCH your tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Entrepreneur Magazine wrote an article giving examples of what three companies are doing to promote healthy lifestyles within their organizations. Progressive Insurance helps their 25,000 employees stay healthy with an onsite Fitness Centre, Weight Watchers reimbursement program, yoga and boot camp classes, personal training and a smoking cessation program. These programs directly contributed to one of their employees dropping 150 pounds over a span of 18 months.

Telus, a Canadian phone company has approximately 26,000 employees in 13 locations across the country and offers internal fitness facilities with cardio equipment, weight rooms and group fitness classes, on-site massage and reflexology practitioners, active living challenges and mental health support. This has led to an increase of worker well-being and satisfaction which in turn increases productivity.

Twitter has on location in its San Francisco office onsite yoga, Pilates, Wing Chun Kung Fu and CrossFit classes. Onsite massages and acupuncture sessions are also available for a fee. Twitter looks to alleviate onsite fatigue and burnout with these wellness programs.

Obviously not all companies can afford to have such programs as weight-rooms and gyms, but smaller companies can start a wellness program by surveying their employees and asking what kind of programs they would be interested in participating in. A healthy lifestyle is a productive lifestyle.

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