boost productivity

Boost Productivity by Promoting Employee Physical and Mental Fitness

Your employees’ physical and mental health has a direct impact on your company’s culture, productivity and bottom line. According to a study published in Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, productivity losses from depression costs the U.S. economy $5,524 per worker each year with an additional $390 lost as a result of depression-related absences. Employers can, however, take proactive steps to boost productivity by promoting employee physical fitness and mental health.

Consider the suggestions below:

Holding Health and Fitness Challenges

The Department of Health and Human Services suggests holding employee fitness challenges as a fun way to motivate your employees to develop healthy habits. For example, have a walking challenge where employees earn prizes for walking a certain number of steps every day. You can also have a team wellness challenge. The whole department can win a free healthy lunch if the group reaches a collective health goal.

You can also hold individual or group weight loss challenges. Another idea to boost productivity is challenging employees to develop a new healthy habit over a two-to-four-week period. Ideas include packing a healthy lunch or taking a daily walk. Other ideas include inviting employees to participate in attending 25 fitness classes in the next month, challenging employees to gradually increase the amount of time they can hold a plank position over a series several weeks, or holding a challenge to eat healthy over the holidays.

Another idea is to post a checklist where employees can race to check off different health benchmarks. Items can include attending a preventive screening, eating a healthy lunch, attending a walking event or getting a flu shot.

Running Team-building Yoga Exercises

Stress is a major contributor to poor health, and yoga can be a way to reduce stress while practicing team-building. Taking periodic breaks for employees to practice yoga postures enables them to stretch, reducing the physical, and mental tension that can come from sitting in an office chair, staring at a computer screen. You can turn this into a team-building exercise by challenging teams to coordinate their postures to form a certain shape.

Another challenge is to have workers pair up to see if they can figure out how one of them can stand up without using their arms. You can also challenge the group to move as a coordinated unit across the room in a particular pattern.

Integrating Wearables

Wearable technology can help you promote fitness among your employees. Since Fitbit started providing internet-connected step counters and wristbands to businesses, it has acquired over 1,000 corporate clients, including 70 Fortune 500 companies. Fitness trackers can be an effective way to monitor employee health and participation in wellness programs. Some companies in industries where employee health is vital for safety and performance, such as industrial manufacturers, even require workers to use wearables, with Gartner estimating that two million people will be required to wear fitness tracking devices by 2018.

To encourage employees to use wearables, some companies offer financial incentives such as lower health plan deductibles or Amazon vouchers. If you opt to use wearables, be sure to review privacy concerns with your legal department.

Establishing a Healthy Office Environment

Fostering a healthy office environment is another way to promote employee health. Consider offering desks with adjustable standing height options, which can help avoid health problems associated with sitting too long. Encourage employees to take periodic breaks from sitting. Post tips on proper sitting posture to prevent back problems and repetitive motion injuries.

You can also make your office healthier by improving its ventilation. Better lighting can prevent eyestrain and headaches. Green walls and plants can also create a more relaxing atmosphere.

Promoting Mental Fitness to Boost Productivity

Promoting mental fitness and preventing psychological illness is another important component of employee wellness. Company founders are particularly prone to stress and depression, with a University of California and Stanford study finding 72 percent of entrepreneurs may have mental health concerns. Harvard Business Review contributor Jordana Valencia recommends knowing the signs of depression and taking active steps to combat them.

Both employers and employees can take a preventive approach to depression by using online detection tools such as the depression screening tool by Mental Health America. Sites such as Entrepreneur Depression offer online resources to help prevent and combat depression.

Taking these types of proactive steps to promote physical and mental fitness can help save your company from the lost productivity and revenue caused by employee illness. It can even boost productivity by making your workers happier and more energetic. It’s worth your while to invest in building physical and mental fitness into your workers’ regular routine. Schedule some time to review how you can incorporate these tips into your company’s standard operating procedure. The sooner you implement these steps, the sooner your company will enjoy the benefits of a healthier, more productive working environment.

 

 

Roy Rasmussen, co-author of "Publishing for Publicity," is a freelance copywriter who helps small businesses get more customers and make more sales. His specialty is helping experts reach their target market with a focused sales message. His most recent projects include books on cloud computing, small business management, sales, and business coaching.

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