By Yvonne Hignell, Care & Support Services Director
Promoting good physical health and wellbeing among employees can reduce their levels of sickness, increase energy levels and boost levels of concentration. What’s more, you don’t have to make huge changes to promote physical wellbeing at work and encourage colleagues to make positive changes.
Taking a break from work doesn’t just give your mind a break, but your body too. Eating outside or in a staff room gives a chance to unwind and reset ready for the second half of the day. For those who work at desks, a lunch time walk can be the perfect way to help protect against musculoskeletal problems.
In fact, sometimes taking several shorter breaks can be more beneficial than one long break. This is particularly true for people doing repetitive tasks, as boredom or tiredness can potentially result in errors or a reduction in proficiency. Short breaks can also help to keep fatigue at bay for those doing physical work.
As well as the benefits of a mental rest and a chance to exercise, a break provides the chance to eat properly. A person snacking during the odd free moment may consume more junk food or not have enough time to eat a decent meal that provides enough energy.
Many workplaces have biscuits or sweets brought in by colleagues for others to share. An easy way to encourage healthy eating could be to swap some of these for fresh fruit, nuts (bearing in mind allergies) or other more nutritious snacks.
If any of your employees work within cycling distance of work, you could consider putting in a bike rack so that they have somewhere safe to chain their vehicle up. If funds allow, you could even look at installing a shower to encourage employees to ride to work or exercise during lunch breaks.
Take into account any health and safety issues when encouraging colleagues to walk home. For example, those involved in shift work may be vulnerable if walking home alone at night.
You could also provide details of nearby walking and cycling routes that people can use during lunch breaks. If external meetings take place nearby, you could encourage those taking part to walk to the venue.
Take on a challenge
Taking on a physical challenge, such as couch to 5k, can be the perfect motivation to get fit. You could organise a team from your workplace and keep each other motivated during training.
Need inspiration? Have a look at our challenge events and support the dedicated automotive industry charity in the process!
Can you organise a contest to encourage healthy living? For example, if a lot of people have pedometers you could offer a small prize for the person who completes the most steps in a month.
People are more likely to take part in company schemes if they feel involved. Ask colleagues or employees to suggest ideas for improving health and wellbeing or get them involved in planning. You could even appoint someone as a ‘physical health champion’ to lead on improving wellbeing.
If you have colleagues who have mobility issues or chronic health conditions, talk to them about the kind of activities they are able to participate in. You could suggest doing something like a healthy picnic or a sit-down exercise session (perfect for helping desk-based colleagues avoid back problems).
Providing colleagues with information about the importance of physical wellbeing and how to maintain a good level of fitness enables them to make informed decisions. This could even be something as simple as giving details of nice walks nearby to new colleagues.