Setting a healthy example in the workplace

March 27,  2019

This paid piece is sponsored by Avera.

As teams follow their example, leaders have a lot of influence when it comes to creating a workplace culture. With example-setting in mind, more leaders are focusing on fitness and better health.

“Simple steps like ordering healthier food for employee gatherings or offering better choices in vending machines – they all add up,” said Amanda Harty, director of well-being services with Avera Health Plans. “Leaders are finding that if they ‘walk the walk’ they will have people follow them toward well-being, which can take many forms and does build bonds among employees.”

When the workplace is seen as an environment that’s more than just a shop, studio or dining area for guests, and when healthier opportunities are demonstrated and not just presented as restrictions or new rules, it does open things up. It’s all about collaboration too.

“Well-being is really personal, and employers who find what works and combine those ideas will see the results in their bottom lines,” Harty said. “Employees who are thriving will likely have higher productivity. That has an impact on the way your company works. It’s not just about standing desks or better snacks.”

Another example is tracking health. For years, these devices have let more people count steps and monitor other aspects of their well-being, from hours of sleep to calories consumed. But there’s another level at which they work.

“For many of our members, our mobile apps and the devices on our wrist often know more about us than our electronic medical records do,” said Dr. Preston Renshaw, chief medical officer for Avera Health Plans and DAKOTACARE. “Since that’s the case – use that information. Share it with your doctor, and take ownership of your health. Leaders who do this can share the approach with employees.”

Making health-improving approaches convenient for workers helps greatly.

“When you have biometric evaluations, flu shot sessions or assessments in the workplace, so employees can take a break and take part in these efforts when it fits their schedule, you’ll see a big spike in participation,” Renshaw said. “Well-being assessments at the workplace overall can give employers an advantage and start those conversations about changes for the better.”

Working small portions of fitness, well-being or health into the workday will pay off, and when the cultural shift is meaningful, gradual and measured, it will last.

“The well-being programs we have in place are working. We have employees who quit smoking, many have lost weight, and others have reduced their need of high blood-pressure medications,” said Kim Enebo, Avera vice president of total rewards. “No matter what type business you lead, small steps and good examples can lead to big differences that shape your working environment for the better.”

These ideas are fine starting points to lead your team toward better health:

  • Consider salads, lettuce wraps and veggie trays for meetings or in-service meals. Replace candy at meetings with fresh fruit.
  • Try to make meetings a time for a walk or to stand instead of sitting down.
  • Ask your employees if they’ve taken a walk today.
  • Encourage employees to work out during lunch breaks, or incorporate one-minute mindfulness exercises during daily gatherings.
  • Host annual wellness checkups, screenings and immunizations at the workplace if possible.
  • Consider offering healthier options in vending machines.
  • Host a healthy recipe contest.

Setting a healthy example in the workplace

As teams follow their example, leaders have a lot of influence when it comes to creating a workplace culture. With example-setting in mind, more leaders are focusing on fitness and better health.

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