Keeping Healthy Employees Healthy


Most wellness efforts stress the importance of helping your employees get into shape, eat right, exercise and stop smoking. But, it is equally important to support and encourage employees who already lead a healthy lifestyle.

You can take several steps to implement policies and promote behaviors that encourage and support already-healthy employees.

Establish a smoke-free environment in and around your company’s facility in order to reduce exposure to secondhand smoke.

Create an environment that promotes physical activity during the workday.

  • Promote the use of nearby walking or biking trails, and provide a map marked with distances.
  • Encourage stand-up and walking meetings.
  • Recommend that employees take three minutes out of every hour to stand up and stretch. Research shows that even individuals who regularly exercise cannot completely counteract the negative health effects of sitting for several hours every day.
  • Consider offering discounted memberships to local health clubs.

If you have the space and a larger budget, consider creating an on-site gym.

  • Encourage employees to fit in some exercise during their lunch break, whether it’s on-site, at a local gym or outside.
  • Provide pedometers to employees and encourage them to reach a certain number of steps each day or week. You could also start an informal competition for who can log the most steps in a designated amount of time.

Offer healthy food in the workplace to support health-conscious employees.

  • Offer healthy food options in vending machines.
  • Provide healthy food options during meetings and work-sponsored events. Even if a less-healthy food such as pizza is more popular, consider at least offering salad or vegetable options as well.
  • Compile a list for your employees of local restaurants and delivery places that offer healthy choices.

Make modifications and upgrades to your employees’ workstations to create a more ergonomic environment.

  • Conduct workstation assessments to learn more about each employee’s working environment (including placement of the computer monitor, keyboard and mouse, the quality of lighting, and chair mechanics). Then, take steps to improve their workstations to fit their individual needs.
  • Give employees the option of using an exercise ball instead of (or in addition to) a regular desk chair.
  • If you have a larger budget, or already need to replace or add workstations, consider installing standing desks and similar options that allow and encourage a less sedentary workday.

Create a clean working environment.

  • Monitor your facility’s heating, lighting and ventilation systems to ensure that they are in proper working order. Pollutants from malfunctioning systems can cause illness in otherwise healthy individuals.
  • Sanitize your facility often to reduce dust and allergen particle buildups in the workplace and to cut down on allergic reactions and illness outbreaks.

Although most wellness programs address disease management and help make unhealthy employees healthier, paying attention to protecting and supporting those employees who are already committed to healthy living is just as important.