In Leadership Competencies

In the US, nearly 100,000 of the 900,000 yearly deaths are thought to be preventable by improved nutrition and exercise (according to The President’s Council on Sports, Fitness & Nutrition). WOW that’s 11%! So, my conclusion is that nutrition and exercise are really important! After 60 years of Presidential fitness campaigns, obesity is worse than ever. The average American scores less than 60% on the government’s Healthy Eating Index. This all translates into a serious financial burden for the US economy. Now that I’ve outlined the big picture, let’s focus on the individual.

What are the benefits?

On a personal level, the benefits of proper nutrition and exercise are numerous and include things such as improved energy level, weight control, general health, self-esteem, and sleep. If you apply this across an entire workforce, it’s easy to see the potential impact. That’s why I’ve included it in this month’s broader theme of the employee experience and mental well-being.

Why are good nutrition and exercise important?

For your business, a productive workforce is essential. So why are so many employees not as productive as they could be? Dissatisfaction is a primary indicator. The nature of the work itself, company policies and their manager are often cited as main reasons. Dissatisfaction isn’t the only cause of low productivity and work-related stress. Despite multiple contributors, something as simple as improved nutrition and exercise can be an effective tool to boost productivity and overall satisfaction. To give you a more complete picture, have a look at this chart from the World Health Organization. It identifies several ways to promote nutrition and exercise in the workplace. This short list can have positive effects on the employee experience and mental well-being.

What makes the workplace an ideal environment to promote nutrition and exercise?

The workplace has emerged as an important venue to promote healthy lifestyles for many reasons. Most importantly, it provides a way to magnify influence by focusing on the individual. This is something ad campaigns and nutritional labeling or warnings can’t achieve. Your workplace also creates a structure of support, social norms, and incentives that can’t be easily replicated. Studies have shown that multilevel nutrition and exercise programs in the workplace offer promising results. They improve vitality, health, and work-related outcomes. But elaborate approaches may not be an available options for all businesses.

What can you do about the health and well-being of your employees?

Promoting nutrition and exercise programs for your employees doesn’t have to be complicated. You can start small by encouraging employees to use stairs over the elevator. Another way would be to bring healthier food choices to the office over the quintessential morning donuts. Supporting after-work sports and exercise programs is a great way to create camaraderie. You can also encourage employees to walk or bike to work.  If your budget allows, you can purchase specialized furniture that allows employees to stand while working.

Through wellness initiatives, you can promote nutrition and exercise to support mental well-being for your employees. This is a positive way to improve the employee experience at your business too.  You may also try “gamifying” these initiatives by creating contests or introducing monthly themes to increase their impact and effectiveness.

I can help you find ways to improve your employee experience. Contact me here.

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