More than 2 in 5 American workers gained weight in their current job according to a new survey. Here are four steps to fostering a healthy workplace in any business.

Healthy Workplace by Industry, Gender, Age and Habits that Contribute to Weight Loss

A CareerBuilder survey reports that 44 percent of American workers gained weight on the job, and 25 percent even gained 10 or more pounds in their current role. Among the industries where workers were found to be more likely to gain weight on the job were:

  • 49% – Transportation
  • 48% – Health care
  • 46% – Financial services
  • 46% – Sales
  • 40% – Retail
  • 39% – Manufacturing
  • 38% – IT

49 percent of women vs. just 39 percent of men reported gaining weight at their current job; likewise, 49 percent of workers in management roles gained weight on the job vs. 43 percent of workers in non-management jobs. Interestingly, workers in the middle of their career were more likely than either younger or older workers to have gained weight in their current job.

Despite the popularity of workplace “Biggest Loser” and similar weight loss contests and initiatives, fostering a truly healthy workplace is about more than losing weight. In fact, contests like these can even contribute to more weight gain for employees as they rarely address the root cause of weight gain. Additionally, it can incentivize workers to lose weight “by any means possible,” which might include tactics that even jeopardize the health of participants.

There seems to be a direct correlation in three of the factors where the workplace habits of workers who gained weight differed from those who lost weight:

4 Ways to Foster a Healthy Workplace In Any Business

According to the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control) employers – not just employees – stand to benefit when efforts to foster a healthy workplace payoff. Businesses that deploy workplace health programs enjoy enhanced worker productivity, decreased absenteeism, and often have lower insurance and workers compensation costs as well – cost savings which could quickly outweigh the cost of employee health and wellness benefits. Here are four steps toward fostering a healthy workplace for any type of business.

4 Ways to Foster a Healthy Workplace In Any Business

  1. Start Safe Discussions

Let’s face it: Talking about health and fitness topics may be uncomfortable, especially if those discussions are limited only to the topic of weight. However, it’s impossible to purposefully foster a healthy workplace without communicating on these topics. Consider sponsoring group or team-based health and fitness group initiatives for voluntary participation or invite employees to establish groups for discussion or activities. Establish rules to help ensure that employees feel safe and supported should they choose to participate.

  1. Share Resources and Recipes

Establish a digital or break room bulletin board where anyone can share wellness tips, articles, recipes, and other resources. Set up an employee email distribution group and send a weekly newsletter or daily health or wellness tip to staff (and invite staff to contribute ideas, articles and recipes for distribution).

Compile a list of nearby gyms, fitness and recreation centers and a list of local nutritionists or other experts who can help employees craft nutritionally-based weight management programs based on their unique needs.

  1. Facilitate

From gym memberships to on-site fitness and workout facilities to workplace walking groups, there are many ways to foster a healthy workplace by making it more convenient for employees to participate in exercise. What’s more, encouraging workers to get away from their desks or workstations instead of working through lunch or breaks also lets them know that you value their health and well-being.

You can also support employee weight goals by underwriting the expert services of a certified eating psychology coach who can work with employees on a group or individual basis, to help them release weight by discovering the root causes of and healing emotional eating.

If your business provides food services, vending machines or makes snacks and beverages available in employee lunch and break areas, ensuring that healthy options are available is another excellent way to foster a healthy workplace and demonstrate concern and care for staff.

Explore options for modifying employee workstations such as convertible height desks and office chair variants. Encourage employees to offer up ideas and suggestions for improving all or their own work space and consider paying for some or all of the accommodations requested.

  1. Educate

Enhance your company’s employee development program by bringing in wellness experts to speak about general health and wellness topics as well as offer tips those in specific types of jobs (office workers, drivers, outside sales, non-office workers, etc.) can use to improve their on-the-job and break time habits in ways that contribute to a healthy workplace.

Make sure that employees are aware of the health and wellness perks which are available to them through company reimbursement or benefit programs. Encourage employees to use vacation time and don’t make it seem like an imposition when they do!

Probably the most common New Year Resolution people make every year is to get healthy, eat right, and exercise — and your employees are no exception.

Supporting employee New Year’s resolutions to get healthy can increase engagement, help them feel cared for, and lead to less sick days.

As a business owner, the level of engagement and happiness of your employees depends in part on the extent to which they feel supported in both professional and personal goals. Creating and supporting common goals in the workplace, such as an employee’s Resolution to get healthy, creates a positive atmosphere in the office and can even save your company money, if healthier-happier employees take less paid sick days in the coming year.

Here are seven ideas for promoting health and wellness in your workplace that can help you and your employees achieve the goals you want to reach.

Employers Can Support Employee Resolutions to Get Healthy in 7 Key Ways

Bring in the Experts

When you want your employees to learn something new, what do you do? You train them! Unless your employees are experts on health and wellness, it’s fair to assume that they don’t necessarily have the tools or knowledge needed to adopt and maintain a healthier lifestyle. Bringing in experts who can train and coach your employees on topics such as how emotional eating can crop up in the workplace as “I deserve it” reward eating, “Screw it!” emotional eating, binge stress eating, etc., can empower your staff with the tools to recognize the signs and use proven alternatives to avoid developing potentially unhealthy emotional eating patterns.

Provide Healthy Eating Options

Simple is the place to start when it comes to getting healthy. Supplying nutritious snack options in vending machines or communal eating areas is an easy way to kick things off. Adding healthy beverage choices to pop machines and reducing (or eliminating) access to chips and sweets can help minimize an employee’s temptation to stray from their healthy eating goal.

A couple other great ways to support employee’s goals to get healthy is to start an office cook book or have potlucks with healthy eating themes. Encourage employees to contribute healthy recipes to the cookbook and make some of these recipes at team or company potlucks.

Purchase desks and chairs that promote activity and good posture.

There are many options for convertible or standing desks that give employees a chance to get out of their office chairs all or at least part of the time. While it takes a bit of financial investment, having these options for staff who want them can significantly benefit your company over the long run. Here’s a list of top ten list of standing desks for great ideas for all budgets.

Likewise, all office chairs aren’t created equal. Investing in chairs with good ergonomic design or which support “active sitting,” offering employees access to chair-alternatives, and educating staff about how to maintain good posture, the importance of getting up and moving around every hour, and so on can all help contribute to a healthier work force.

Ensure access to refreshing, good-tasting water.

It can be difficult to remember to drink water, especially when you get on a roll working after your morning coffee. A combination of two great ideas will help your employees remember to drink more water. First, ensure access to refreshing, good-tasting water in the form of a water cooler. Second, purchase branded water bottles for all your employees that feature your company logo and a fun tagline that reminds them to fill up and drink up.

Organize outdoor activities and sporting events.

 The best thing about many outdoor activities for your employees is they are often free! A few great ways to support employees who want to be more physically active are to:

  • Organize a company basketball/soccer/softball or some other kind of team: If you have a bunch of sports junkies in your office, this can be a great way to bring people together to encourage physical activity and team work.
  • Plan a hike: Next time you need to have a big team meeting or brainstorm session, make it planned around a short hike. Not only will employees be physically active, they’ll also have fresh minds when developing business plans and may even think more creatively.
  • Start a walking group: There may also be a walking trail near your office where employees can walk as a group during breaks or on lunch hours. Encourage employees to form a walker’s group and hand out retro terry cloth wrist and hair bands in your brand colors at the group’s kickoff.
  • Designate a work out room: Install treadmills, weights, exercise bikes and other equipment in empty office space to give employees a chance to work out before or after work, or during lunch hours.

Sponsor preventive care.

Health insurance plans aren’t always conducive to preventive care. Offering perks that give employees more access to preventive care can promote health in your office and reduce the chance employees will miss work due to illness. Your contribution to a healthy workplace can be an incredible way to demonstrate your personal care for employees.

One of the simplest and least expensive preventive care measures is cleaning! Making a quarterly all-employee deep clean of office and common spaces during work hours part of your company culture is another way to stop the spread of germs, with the adding benefit of helping to ensure your office always looks its best.

Skip the competition and put your employees on the same team, instead.

Unfortunately, weight loss competitions can lead to unhealthy eating and may create a food-shaming environment. Conversely, creating groups and a culture where health, wellness and weight loss goals are supported and cheered on can strengthen your team overall. This could be a great opportunity for you to bring in experts who can talk about in emotional eating, motivation, health and wellness, nutrition and exercise to ensure that employees adopt a safe approach and can turn their new habits into a lifestyle mindset, so they can release weight and maintain their weight loss.

Statistically, it’s probable that about half of your employees made some kind of New Year Resolution. Whether their goals are to get healthy, lose weight, exercise more, or something else altogether, implementing programs in your office to support those goals and dreams will remind your employees how good it is to work for you and will kick off the New Year right with inspired, engaged team members.


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