Whether you're developing a comprehensive workplace health and wellness program or simply want to make your workplace part of the wellness solution, not the problem, here are some methods that won't cost your business a thing. (Learn more about the impact of your workers' health on your business in Nolo's article Could Poor Employee Health Be Hurting Your Business?)
- Have your company leaders model healthy behavior. If the bosses are overweight, smoke, and work themselves into a near-heart attack, the underlings will never believe that your company wants to promote a culture of health. But a boss can make an immediate difference when he or she announces a plan to turn his or her life around in a healthy manner and encourages others to join in.
- Ask your vending machine operators to replace junky snacks with healthy ones. Go for granola and pretzels instead of oily chips and sugar-laden cookies. And, if company leaders are putting out bowls of candy as treats, ask them to replace these with apples or other fruits.
- Create a binder with guidance for local healthy eating. Include menus of the healthiest local restaurants, along with walking maps to show how to get there from your workplace.
- Encourage employees to form walking groups. Walking is one of the easiest, most effective forms of exercise for anyone to pick up. By walking in groups, people can form friendships and avoid local security issues (if your workplace is in a dicey area or their shift takes place after dark). You may need to allow flex time or long lunches for this.
- Encourage use of company stairwells. Put a sign by the elevator saying how many calories could be used up by taking the stairs instead. Make sure the stairs themselves are clean and well lit.
- Organize healthy food potlucks. Encourage employees to bring their favorite high-vegetable, low-sugar, and low-fat dishes, along with the recipes. Share and enjoy.
- Show DVDs at the lunch hour. These might include fitness or relaxation demonstrations or comedy shows for a little stress relief.
- Institute a no-smoking at work policy. Putting in place strict rules against smoking in the workplace should, at least, reduce tobacco use by your employees, and it may encourage some to take further steps toward quitting.
- Make employees aware of what's available through your existing health benefits. Your health plan or EAP plan, for example, may offer wellness evaluations and classes, disease management programs, smoking cessation classes, and counseling. But how many employees have actually read the brochures to find out about these options?
- Look for healthy caterers for company events. Find ones that offer lots of salads and other fruit/vegetable menu items. De-emphasize alcohol at company events and offer lots of fun, fizzy fruit drinks or smoothies instead.
For more information on developing a comprehensive workplace wellness program within your company budget, see Healthy Employees, Healthy Business: Easy, Affordable Ways to Promote Workplace Wellness, by Ilona Bray (Nolo).