Employee health and fitness matter to every business.

Employee Health and Fitness Day is Coming Up!

Held annually on the third Wednesday of May, Employee Health and Fitness Day is an excellent opportunity to show support for all things wellness. Why? Because employee health should be prioritized year-round, and this is a great day to share that commitment with employees. Read on for why you want to create and maintain a healthy workplace and ideas for how to celebrate.

The ROI of Workplace Wellness Programs Speaks Volumes

According to WorkHuman, around 22% of U.S. employees report high or very high burnout. However, strong workplace wellness programs can lead to a 90% decrease in “always” or “very often” burnout. In addition, People Element reports that companies with successful wellness initiatives see employees who are 20% more likely to say they enjoy work and intend to stay with the company.

Workplaces with wellness programs offer substantial ROI, with estimates ranging from 6:1 or $5.82 saved in absenteeism costs for every $1 spent [peopleelement.com]. Healthy workplaces see lower absenteeism rates, with studies showing reductions of 14-19% and companies with wellness programs experiencing 1.8 fewer absent days per employee per year [peopleelement.com].

That said, a healthy workplace doesn’t need to have an official “workplace wellness program,” just a commitment to employee health and wellness.

Other stats worth consideration:

  • Employee Engagement: A healthy work environment fosters employee engagement, with 91% of employees in organizations with supportive executives reporting higher motivation [American Psychological Association].
  • Positive Work Culture: Over 70% of employers have made improvements to their physical environments to promote healthy behaviors, and more than 90% offer at least one wellness incentive [Forbes, HBR].

Providing healthy snacks is a great way to model healthy living1. Make Healthy Snacks Available

A lot of snacking takes place at work, where too often the options are processed foods and beverages from vending machines. Experiment with bringing in fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, cheese sticks, and nuts for the break room.

Take the time to survey employees about their preferences, put the food in a visible, accessible place, and check in to gauge ongoing interest. Ask people to track how they feel — in terms of mood and alertness — when they have delicious alternatives that don’t end in a sugar crash.

Many will notice a real, positive difference, and calling it out will make it concrete in their minds. Changing eating habits is tough but gets easier when employees realize they’re choosing between paying for candy or enjoying bananas and almonds that leave them with energy to spare.

2. Get Employees Up and Moving

As simple as it seems, encourage employees to take walks. By taking one or two walks during the day, they’ll stretch their muscles and burn far more calories than if they were just sitting or standing. Walks also give employees a chance to clear their brains and dive back into work with renewed focus.

Try making step counters available and start a companywide competition; or just encourage employees to make at least one walk part of their day. Whatever you do, though, you want to make sure no one feels guilty or sneaky for leaving their desks to take a walk. Which brings us to point three…

3. Model Healthy Workplace Behavior

According to SHRM, leaders who actively participate in company wellness programs like fitness challenges or health fairs demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being. Be the leader who is leading by example.

It’s also proactive and helpful to provide stress management techniques, healthy eating habits, and mental health resources for employees in easily accessible locations. These resources should be regularly updated, available, and promoted effectively.

And let it be said — leaders should take vacations, encourage breaks, walk the stairs, and show up to health-related fairs and events to model behavior and show genuine interest in healthy living.

4. Practice Gratitude

Create a place where team members across the organization can record one thing for which they are grateful every day. Challenge your team to do it for three weeks straight. At the end of the three weeks, have your team reflect on their mood and productivity.

Recent research review suggests that gratitude journaling can lead to a noticeable decrease in diastolic blood pressure, the pressure exerted by your heart between beats [uclahealth.org]. Practicing gratitude may also encourage healthier behaviors like exercise due to an overall more positive outlook.

What Can You Do on Employee Health and Fitness Day?Play a game of pick-up basketball after work!

  • Encourage walk-and-talk meetings.
  • Promote taking the stairs by having a friendly competition to see who can climb the most flights in a set time.
  • Invite local gyms, fitness studios, and healthy food vendors to showcase their services and products and offer discounts.
  • Organize a friendly volleyball, basketball, or soccer game, fostering teamwork and camaraderie through physical activity.
  • Offer incentives (like fruits and vegetables gift certificates) to employees who log the most steps or achieve fitness goals using wearables.
  • Organize a yoga, Zumba, or exercise class led by an instructor or a certified employee.
  • Bring in an ergonomic expert to explain how to properly set up a workstation that improves posture and circulation.
  • Partner with a local restaurant to provide healthy and delicious lunch options.
  • Invite a nutritionist or health professional to speak about healthy eating habits and tips for meal prep.
  • Offer a session on relaxation techniques like meditation or mindfulness to combat workplace stress.
  • Hire a chef to lead a fun and interactive cooking class focused on healthy recipes.
  • Set up booths offering health information, product samples, and mini-massages or chair massages.

Don’t Forget to Have Fun! 

Learn More About gThankYou Certificates of Gratitude:

Top photo by Ev on Unsplash
Fruit and nut photo by Matthew Sichkaruk
Basketball Photo by Stephen Baker on Unsplash

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