Your Very Good Health!
We spend most of our working lives at a desk or computer, so the news that sedentary life may have serious consequences for our health, from an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease to DVT and eye strain, is sobering. Equally, the demands of modern office life can take their toll on our mental and physical wellbeing. But whose responsibility is it to address these issues and what measures can be introduced to tackle health problems?
Employers have a responsibility to minimise potential contributing factors in the office environment, such as noise and lack of privacy, and to ensure staff have adequate backup support. From an HR point of view it may also be helpful to educate staff in stress relief techniques but equally, employees need to look at how they manage their own work/life balance and to seek help as necessary.
It is not up to employers to preach to their staff about what they eat or provide expensive gym facilities. Working together, however, it is possible to introduce more movement into the office day. Employers can play their part in making the process fun and inspiring staff by coming up with ideas and setting challenges, none of which need to cost money.
For example, why not:
- Walk to a colleague’s desk rather than email them
- Have mobile meetings – walking outside can be very good for brainstorming or problem-solving
- Take a break every 15 minutes – micro breaks are proven to have a more beneficial effect
- Walk to work or take the stairs rather than the lift
- Take a walk during your lunch break – alone or in a group or challenge staff to try a new physical activity
- Introduce an ‘eat fruit’ day or organise a healthy eating challenge
Another way of encouraging staff to make a change is to discourage eating at the desk, a rule that CBS has introduced in its own offices. Not only is this more hygienic but it ensures people get a complete break from the day’s pressures – often leading to greater clarity of thought and improved concentration levels when they return.
Fundamentally, improving workplace health levels is about changing habits. Employers can help by taking the lead but the long term goal should be to get everyone involved. Improving employee health has been shown to significantly increase productivity, while relieving stress and aggression.
Let us know what ideas you have introduced in your office and how well they have worked.