How to encourage your employees to be healthy without the down time

How to encourage your employees to be healthy without the down time

I remember overhearing a friend of mine invite a potential date to an exercise class at work. Upon receiving this enticing invitation, he promptly replied ‘I don’t have the time’ to which my friend replied ‘it’s 2o clock’. He then explained ‘no, I don’t have the time to exercise!’. After we shared a laugh over the miscommunication, I realised that this was an example of the most common barrier to adopting and sustaining behaviours that improve our health, like exercise and eating well. Not having the time and inconvenience are two of the top reasons people give for choosing not to fulfill the recommended levels of physical activity and vegetable consumption.

As a coach, I’ve spent many a session exploring with clients the possibilities for challenging this mindset. A review of priorities is often the outcome. However, the perceived lack of time and lower motivation to prioritise health remains the go-to excuse.

Rather than challenging this perception, let’s work with it. After all, we live in a world of convenience and speed.

Offering health and well-being programs within the workplace that save travel time and make it more convenient to participate and less of a hurdle could be the key.

Health experiences that are short, mobile and flexible, allowing people to choose when and where to take part bypasses the time and convenience barrier.

So how is this possible?

Many corporate well-being companies have endeavoured to provide solutions by offering onsite gyms, health workshops and incentive programs. While these are great solutions, they typically are limited by convenience. Attending a workshop at a set time and place is not always suitable. Onsite gyms are typically used by the ‘already engaged’. Historically, we are very good at making fit people fitter.

A solution that moves outside the square and simultaneously quashes barriers to engagement is Health Breaks. The concept encourages employees to take a short break for their health each day. Health ambassadors called Health Champs provide peer support in the workplace while health activities covering physical, mental, social and nutritional health are delivered via a mobile app or desktop platform.

In the past, workers ritually stepped out of the office for a smoko and some still do. No one battered an eyelid. Now, even more so, people flick through their social media accounts trance like , often becoming swept away in the web of posts as minutes slip away.

Such activities do not invigorate, revitalise, inspire or reward workers. Instead they drain and strain workers physically and mentally.

It would be great to think that taking a break for your health becomes the accepted norm, the positive and progressive work culture, and we can finally see a tip in the scales when it comes to population health, and a reward for both employees and businesses alike!

by Kristin McMaster, Masters in Nutrition, GD Bus, BA, Dip Fitness, ACC ICF Coach

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