Get ready: May is Employee Health & Fitness Month. This is a change from prior years, when just a day was devoted to employee health. The National Association for Health & Fitness and ActiveLife (sponsors of EHFM) made the change for one simple reason – it takes longer than one day to change behaviors.
The two organizations have a web site and a week-long kick-off (Demand Healthy Week) to get people started. They are promoting a 3-prong strategy: Healthy Moments (actions taken by individuals), Healthy Groups, and Healthy Projects (company or community-based). The focus on employee health comes at a critical time: the economy has caused many companies to cut back on employee wellness programs. It’s a short-sighted decision, however, because there is a wealth of evidence that investing in employee wellness can lead to lower long-term health care costs for employers.
When employees aren’t well, employers pay not just through direct health care costs, but through lower productivity. In fact, some research indicates that the productivity costs are higher than the direct expenses. And since chronic conditions (many of them related to unhealthy lifestyles) account for about 75% of medical costs in this country, it just makes sense to focus on health in the workplace.
So, in the spirit of Employee Health & Fitness Month,
I’ve come up with my own list of suggestions for Healthy Moments. My ideas aren’t limited to physical wellness. They encompass other dimensions of wellness, such as emotional and social, as well.
Healthy Moment #1: Take a break to breathe at work. Just sitting quietly for five minutes, with your eyes closed, paying attention to your breath, will calm and refresh you.
Healthy Moment #2: Check out Instant Recess. You can follow right along (at work!) with this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CHiwiTZtl7Q
Healthy Moment #3: If you work at a computer, give your eyes a break from the screen. Look out the window if you have one. Otherwise, bring in some nice pictures to decorate your workspace. Doing this will rest your eyes and give you a mental break too.
Healthy Moment #4: Instead of emailing people in your office, get up and walk over to see them. Not only will you stretch your legs, you’ll also benefit from face-to-face communication.
Health Moment #5: Thank someone at work for their help. Sometimes in the rush of work, we don’t always express appreciation. But thinking about gratitude can help you be more optimistic and positive.
Now you have tips for 5 days of work! What else can you think of?