Wherever we go, whatever we do these days, we are bombarded with information on how to live a healthy and productive lifestyle.
While in the past we clung to the belief that being healthy involved maintaining a balanced physical state by eating the foods that keep our bodies functioning properly, focus has shifted and ongoing research has shown that a healthy mental state is a direct requirement for a healthy body and that mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety affect our ability to participate in healthy behaviors.
9 to 5 Jobs
Since we spend a good portion of our lives in a working environment the time spent in the office becomes a crucial element in maintaining both physical and mental health. A healthy workplace increases productivity, creates happier employees, reduces absence rates and generates an overall atmosphere of wellbeing.
It is the responsibility of the office manager or business owner to make the workplace a healthy space for employees to spend their days. Here is some sound advice:
1. Create a pleasant work atmosphere. Decorate the office with bright colors. Yellow and orange, for example, evoke energy and enthusiasm and lead to increased productivity. Plants add to a homey appearance and have health benefits as well.
Choose natural light over artificial lighting whenever possible. Position the lighting so they don’t reflect off other objects as this result in eye strain and headaches.
Pipe in music. Classic or instrumental music is good for concentration and productivity while more popular tunes prevent distraction and increase motivation.
2. Encourage nutritious eating habits. Most office buildings are close to local take out shops or fast food outlets and while quick and easy, these choices are far from healthy. They do nothing for the waistline, are usually high in cholesterol and have a negative effect on memory, concentration and mood.
Bring in a professional nutritionist or even a chef that can discuss and demonstrate the benefits of a well-balanced diet. Undertake to change your own lunch habits and encourage your workers to follow suit. How about a competition with a gift for every pound lost?
Keep healthy snacks available at all times. Put out bowls of fruits or different types of nuts so all those needing a nosh can help themselves at any time.
3. Be generous in your praise and employee appreciation. Introduce employee rewards programs and other incentives to keep workers satisfied and motivated. Recent research has shown that worker recognition in the form of kind words and gestures is more gratifying than rewards and gifts.
4. Invest in the right furniture for correct posture. There are many types of office chairs in the market but only a few provide proper sitting structure. Workers who spend 7-8 hours sitting in front of a computer need good support so they don’t end up with back problems.
Variations in adjustable desks–stand up, sit down and treadmill desks–have now become the newest rage in office furniture with the treadmill desk receiving the highest evaluation. A recent review by Cochrane researchers looked at 26 studies with 2,174 people and found that the treadmill work stations reduced sitting by nearly half an hour and they particularly benefited obese people, improving their levels of good cholesterol and reducing their waist circumferences.
5. Get your workers to exercise more. Physical therapists suggest that desk job workers get up and move around the office every hour on the hour even if it is only for five minutes. Walking up the stairs instead of taking the elevator and parking a car at the furthest end of the parking area are good ways to get in a bit of movement without having to take time out from work.
Encourage your workers to ride bikes whenever possible, jog once or twice a week, play some sort of team sport or just commit to walking an hour every day.
6. Winter months can be chilly and no one wants to become ill from a cold draft wafting in from outside, but fresh air is healthy and is known to strengthen the immune system. Opening a window for a short time in the morning or late afternoon keeps workers more alert and in brighter spirits.
If you have any additional ideas on how to make a healthier & happier workplace, then please share them with us! We would love to hear from you!