How employers can encourage a healthy lifestyle

Fa calendar 16 grey July 16, 2020   
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Healthy employees are happy and productive employees.

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Photo credit: Andrea 

Healthy employees are happy and productive employees. That is why every employer should encourage a healthy lifestyle and build a culture of wellness in their organizations. But starting a wellness program in your company isn’t enough. All senior leaders, you included, must be involved in the program if it is to achieve any meaningful success. The entire organization has to rally behind the program; from allocating resources, sharing responsibilities, tracking progress, assisting the vulnerable, and achieving a healthy lifestyle for all. The wellness program should provide employees with these among other healthy lifestyle needs:

Easy access to exercise equipment

If you haven’t installed a gym facility in the office, that would be a great place to start. Install all the necessary amenities and encourage employees to use it. Be sure to lead by example. If you don’t have space or the budget for an in-house gym, a temporary solution would be to give each employee a membership discount at a gym of your choosing. You can spice things up by holding regular body strength contests in the workplace, sponsoring a sports day, or organizing a community race, and encouraging your staff members to participate.

Flexible schedules

A gym would be of no help if employees must abide to a tight work schedule. Help them to free up a few hours a day to accommodate a workout routine. One way of doing that is by hiring a few more employees per department in order to reduce each employee’s workload. That may seem like a counterproductive idea because of the additional wages that come with hiring new employees, but you will be amazed by how productive your employees will become. More productive employees will in most cases bring in more revenue. Another option would be to allow the best-performers to work from home if they want to. It is a known fact that employees become more productive when they work remotely, unsupervised. Also, for in-office workers, encourage them to take frequent breaks throughout the day.

Education on work-life balance

Some employees get too invested in their careers that they forget about their social lives. As much as your business could use a few workaholics, you need to remind them always that work with no play might be unhealthy. Sponsor such employees for work-life balance workshops. Invite them to spend a day with you so that they can be inspired by how you’ve achieved your balance. Set aside a day for employees to bring their pets or family members to work. Go for team building activities once in a while. The idea here is to make all employees know that there is a life beyond the workplace.

'Create a supportive environment that reinforces healthy behaviors.'

Nutrition education

When employees have tight deadlines to beat, they often result in eating unhealthy snacks that are easy to grab from the vending machine. Ensure that there aren’t any innutritious foods or drinks in the office canteen or vending machines. Educate employees on healthy eating. Bring in enough fridges for everyone and encourage employees to bring healthy food from home. If you have the budget for staff meals, ensure that only nutritious foods are served.

Medical care plans

Do you have facilities for healthcare in your office? Install one if you can afford or better still, liaise with a doctor or specialist to be attending to your staff on call, at a discounted fee. When hiring, encourage new employees to test for different ailments so that you get an idea of the health status of your workforce. For those with chronic illnesses, e.g. diabetes and high blood pressure, help them get the needed medical attention and make their working environments conducive for managing their conditions.

If you are a big organization, you can have an insurance cover for all employees. However, if you cannot afford to offer these benefits, especially if you have international employees, you can partner with an international PEO to secure a health insurance plan for such employees. Such plans are more affordable at scale, but you don’t have the numbers if your workforce in a given country is small. An international PEO handles many employees from different organizations, so they can easily raise the headcount of a big corporation, consequently reaping the benefits of scale.


Provide employees with at least 2-3 weeks’ vacation time and insist that they must take the leave. Avoid the temptation of paying them extra during their vacation weeks so that they forfeit the vacation. You should in fact recommend the best vacation destinations for them to visit, or even help them with bookings.

In conclusion

Your key role in encouraging employees to adopt healthy lifestyles is to formulate workplace policies that favor healthy lifestyles, provide them with all the resources they need to sustain such a lifestyle and create a supportive environment that reinforces healthy behaviors.



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