Getting your Team to Walk the Walk

Do you find yourself sitting a lot at work? How about your colleagues? We’re all becoming more familiar with the risks of sedentary lifestyles. But combating those risks is as easy as putting one foot in front of the other.

The question, then, is how do you help get your colleagues to take more steps? Here are a few ideas:

1. Implement a company-wide walking challenge! Employer-sponsored walking challenges are super hot right now, and for good reasons! They’re fun. They’re effective. They encourage employees to interact and motivate each other. And they foster the supportive, health-focused workplace that employees dream of.

Walking is easy enough that almost all staff members can participate, whether fitness novices or fitness buffs. Try a challenge and be amazed at how much your colleagues embrace the new-found motivation! You’ll love how much fun they have together, and seeing that many will continue to step it up long after the challenge ends.

Oh, did we mention LifeBalance offers amazing, customizable walking challenges? Just sayin’.

2. Get pedometers for your team. A study from Stanford Medical School showed that people who use pedometers walk about 2000 steps (or about a mile) more per day than those who don’t. Whether you run a walking challenge or not, simply putting a number on activity levels intrigues and motivates people. Just look at the rapidly growing success of FitBit, MyFitnessPal, BodyBugg, Nike’s Fuelband, and other products and devices that track physical activity.

Can’t afford pedometers for everybody? Making them available for employees to buy at work is often enough, and it’s appreciated. Just ask Providence Health & Services, who in the last few years have sold more than 14,000 partially-subsidized LifeBalance pedometers to their employees! Employees are more likely to buy a pedometer if it’s conveniently on sale in the cafeteria (and if their colleagues are buying them) than they are to seek one out on their own.

3. We know we say this all the time, but that’s because it’s fun and effective: organize voluntary group walks near the office. Schedule them before work, after work or on employee breaks; the last option will be appreciated by employees who have trouble finding time to exercise. Inform everyone by sending out email reminders or invites, leaving flyers in break rooms or posting on the company intranet.

These walks don’t have to be long treks! Breaking walks up into smaller segments (even just 10 minutes here or there) throughout the day is just as effective as doing it all at once. Getting up and moving is all that matters. Bonus: those little breaks of fresh air and movement can boost mental focus and productivity, so your boss may thank you!

4 Tips for Encouraging Employee Work-Life Balance

Want to encourage your employees to lead balanced, healthy and fulfilling lifestyles? Here are a few ideas:

1. Get flexible! Can you offer flexible schedules? If so, think about giving it a try! Everyone’s schedules are different, and being locked in to an inflexible schedule can be a huge source of stress.

Think of things from your employees’ perspectives. Perhaps some employees wish they could take a 7am zumba class, but couldn’t get to work on time if they did. Others may need to be home with their young children before or after school. Some might value being able to get to work a little early and hit the gym on a slightly longer lunch break, freeing up their evenings to be with family.

According to US News & World Report, flexible scheduling is among the most longed-for benefits among employees today. If you want to improve employee satisfaction and build loyalty, offering flexibility in the workday might be one of the best ways you can do it.

2. Encourage employees to disconnect. Employees are more connected to the workplace than ever before. Remote desktop access and cell phones pinging with emails keep many employees working long after the office has closed.

fishing duo

Helping employees disconnect — good for your employees, and good for your business.

The Associated Press claims that all of this connectivity is bad for employees and bad for business. Not only are employees overwhelmed, burnt out and less productive, but many companies see their best talent leave to work for employers who can offer a better work-life balance.

So set boundaries. It may be as simple as clearly explaining to your staff that you don’t expect them to answer their work phone or email after hours or, especially, on vacation. Maybe it means coming to an agreement about not checking emails after work (a la French labor unions and employer groups). It might involve locking the office doors (without giving out the keys) on the weekends.

Yes, business is important. But the work will get done, probably more efficiently, if you can let your employees give it a rest.

3. Encourage employees to use their vacation. CNBC.com reports that 75% of Americans do not use all of their paid vacation (and half work while on vacation). For shame, America! Don’t you know that you only live once? And that you might not live as long without that vacation? Multiple studies, including the infamous Framingham study, have shown that passing up vacation time is detrimental to our health.

So banish burn-out and the physical ailments that come with it. Make it clear that you want employees to take their vacation. Highlight the option in company newsletters. Share in employees’ excitement when they talk about upcoming or recent trips. Set a use-it-or-lose-it vacation policy. Lastly, practice what you preach and take that vacation yourself; nobody likes a hypocrite!

Yes, you’ll want employees to coordinate time off with colleagues. Yes, you’ll expect them to get some work done in advance, and to delegate tasks so that their absence isn’t a nightmare. But, after those expectations have been met, tell them to get the heck out of dodge and to enjoy every minute of it.

Your employees will be happier, and your business will be stronger, because of it.

4. Offer LifeBalance Program services to your employees! Shameless plug time! But with a name like The LifeBalance Program, and a discount network chock-full of savings on healthy, fun and stress-relieving activities, how can we not hype our services? Balancing lives is what we do! Learn more by contacting us for a FREE demo account so that you can check out discount offers in your area.

2014 Guardian Workplace Benefits Study

Boiling Over?

“[Employers] have a workforce…trying to be productive and engaged [but] who is overwhelmed. To have more than two-thirds of their workforce say that work is a major source of stress for them, it’s clearly something that employers and employees alike need to deal with.” says Dr. David Ballard of American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence, in an excellent article by Employee Benefits News that addresses stress levels among America’s workforce.

Stress Management

Does your company provide stress-management options?

How does your organization combat stress in the workplace? Is it, as Ballard addresses, a matter of encouraging employees to talk with health care providers about stress management? Does your company provide on-site yoga classes, massage or stress-management training?

Or, is it a matter of tackling organizational procedures and addressing over-stretched resources? Will relieving some of those concerns make for a happier, healthier workforce?

For example, overburdened employees will frequently feel stressed. Inefficient channels of communication, or lack of communication, can lead to stress. Issues like these keep employees from performing optimally. They suffer, and, consequently, the company suffers. In these instances, providing outlets for stress may help, but that won’t address some of the roots of the problem – stress will continue to rear its frustrated head, to the detriment of all.

At the same time, work stress will always be there. Yes, it can be mitigated. But do we really expect to float through our jobs with ease; no pressure, no deadlines, no mishaps?

To retain talent, to keep employees excited and engaged, and, ultimately, to thrive, a business must address stress at both individual and organizational levels. Employees can take walking breaks, try yoga or get massages, but if the same overwhelming organizational issues persist each time they walk back through the door, that frustration will be difficult to mitigate. But, even if organizational issues are resolved, the inherent pressures of work and life still remain. Giving employees options to release stress and gain perspective (it’s all relative, after all) will always be in an employer’s best interest.

We’d love to hear from you – how does your company address employee stress and anxiety? Has it implemented policies or practices that you think are effective at addressing individual or organizational stressors? If not, what are your ideas regarding how things could be improved?

The Big Picture

Happy Employees

“Employees become much more motivated and productive when they know that their employer cares about their total quality of life, which goes beyond traditional wellness and includes physical, emotional, financial and social health.” – Chris Boyce, CEO of Virgin HealthMiles

As an athlete can have a major impact on a game without filling the stat sheet, the positive impact of wellness programs isn’t always seen in hard numbers. Boyce’s quote above comes from a fantastic article on employee wellness, morale and engagement on Forbes.com called “Challenge 2013: Linking Employee Wellness, Morale And The Bottom-Line”. A great read for any organization exploring the world of employee or member wellness.

 

 

 

Walking Works Part 2

Encouraging employees to walk more is the perfect way to help them improve their health. This is especially true if you have employees who must sit all day to do their jobs; more and more research is showing that sitting for hours at a time is incredibly detrimental to our health. You and your colleagues may all be at different fitness levels, but all of us can certainly benefit from taking more steps throughout the day.

How do you get your colleagues to step it up? Here are a few ideas:

  • Implement a company-wide walking challenge. All across the nation, companies large and small are implementing walking competitions for their teams. Why? Because walking challenges are incredibly effective. The combination of friendly competition, increased interactions between coworkers and an encouraging, supportive environment in the workplace is very powerful. Walking is easy enough that all staff members can participate without being intimidated by the office fitness buffs. You will be amazed at how well your employees respond, at how much fun they have together, and at how many of them continue healthy habits long after the challenge ends.
  • Get pedometers for your team. Whether or not you run a walking challenge, providing pedometers for your staff members can go a long way. A study from Stanford Medical School showed that people who use pedometers walk about 2000 steps (or about a mile) more per day than those who don’t. Putting a number on activity levels intrigues and motivates people. Just look at the rapidly growing success of FitBit, MyFitnessPal, BodyBugg, Nike’s Fuelband, and other products and devices that track physical activity.Can’t pay for your team’s pedometers out of pocket? Simply making them available for employees to purchase in the workplace is often enough. Just as Providence Health & Services, who in the last two years have sold more than 14,000 partially-subsidized LifeBalance pedometers to their employees, who continually ask for more. Employees are more likely to buy a pedometer if it’s on sale in the cafeteria and their colleagues are buying them than they are to make a separate trip to the store to pick one up on their own.
  • Organize voluntary group walks near the office. You can schedule these before work, after work or on employee breaks; the last option will be particularly appreciated by employees who have trouble squeezing in exercise before or after work. Make sure your colleagues know about these options by sending out email reminders or invites, posting information or sign ups in break rooms, or putting the information on the company intranet.These walks don’t have to be long treks; experts note that breaking walks up into smaller segments throughout the day is just as effective as doing it all at once. Round up a group for a 20 minute stroll before the lunch break is over. Take 10 minute walking breaks when the morning coffee starts to wear off or that mid-afternoon sluggishness sets in. Getting up and moving is all that matters. Bonus: exercise helps boost mental focus and productivity, so having colleagues take a quick stroll in the fresh air may be just what they needed to do their best work.

Walking Works

It doesn’t require a trip to the gym or a monthly payment. It doesn’t require expensive gear. It doesn’t require you to sweat profusely, twist yourself into a pretzel or learn complicated dance moves. You can do it before work, on your break, after dinner, 10 minutes at a time or for two hours straight. It’s the easiest, least intimidating, quickest approach to fitness, and the great majority of us are blessed enough to be able to do it on command: walking.

According to the Mayo Clinic, taking regular, brisk walks can help you achieve a number of important health benefits. Walking can help you:

• Lower low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol)
• Raise high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol (the “good” cholesterol)
• Lower your blood pressure
• Reduce your risk of or manage type 2 diabetes
• Manage your weight
• Improve your mood
• Stay strong and fit

In fact, the Mayo Clinic notes that regular walking can reduce the risk of heart attack by the same amount as more vigorous exercise, such as jogging! So if you are looking to improve your own health or that of your organizations, remember that it’s as simple as one foot in front of the other!

All Work and No Play Can Hurt Your Employees’ Health!

shutterstock_95343040Ok, you know how encouraging employee fitness and proper nutrition can help benefit your company’s bottom line. You know the importance of creating a fun and positive work environment, too.

But what about the benefits associated with helping them have fun? Well, as it turns out, engaging in leisure activities may literally be good for our health. A study done by the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine on over 1400 participants showed that those who frequently engaged in leisure activities (defined as enjoyable activities individuals engage in when free from the demands of work) showed lower blood pressure, total cortisol, waist circumference, and body mass index, and perceptions of better physical function

You can’t necessarily allow your employees to engage in leisure activities at work, but how can you help them relax and recreate when off the clock? This is where you turn to LifeBalance, a company whose existence is dedicated to helping employees engage in more fun, stress-relieving (but still healthy) activities outside of work. We make it affordable for employees to find more relaxing and entertaining leisure activities with savings at thousands of recreational and wellness-related businesses all across the country. Learn more about how LifeBalance can help you achieve a happy, healthy workforce by contacting LifeBalance Sales Director Dave Miller at sales@LifeBalanceProgram.com.