The numbers seem a bit mixed, but it’s obvious that poor health cuts into business productivity.
One report says over $500 billion is lost annually.
Another says a little over $200 billion.
That second one breaks it down to $1,685 per employee each year. Lost productivity.
You can do the math for your own business. Usually it’ll come to a pretty big number.
Here is another way to look at it…
That’s no way to live. It’s no way to work.
And the thing is that businesses really aren’t doing anything about it. And individuals really aren’t doing anything about it.
But that can be good news for you and your company in multiple ways.
While other businesses struggle with this health epidemic you can improve productivity with a healthier team. You can attract the best employees because health is attractive. People want to be healthy.
Want to get started?
Here are a few ways to encourage your employees to be healthier.
1. Lead By Example
Did you parent ever tell you:
Do as I say, not as I do…
Maybe you’ve said that to your child.
That’s wishful thinking. The reason people say it is because we know we’re doing something wrong. We know the right way to do it. And we hope that others will not follow our lead.
But the reality is that humans are hardwired to learn by over-imitation.
Kids are amazing. I’ve seen parents watch their kids do something new and they’ll say, “Where did they learn that?”
The parent never showed them…at least as far as they remember. But the kid had to learn is somewhere.
They’re watching all the time. Their parents and the entire world around them.
The first step to better health at your office is to commit to the change yourself.
Look at your own situation.
You can’t expect your employees to exercise if you park in the space closest to the office door every day.
You can’t expect them to eat a delicious salad when you bring McDonald’s into your office every other day for lunch.
You can’t expect them to get enough sleep each night when you’re sending emails at 1:00 AM.
Before you do anything for others focus on yourself first. Your habits will rub off on your team. This can be a big change on its own without any of the remaining tips.
2. Build Exercise Into Daily Activities
We all live busy lives. But usually it’s not as busy as we think.
But lets say that your day is really filled up. Exercise at the gym is just not an option. It’s an hour at the gym, but that also includes the commute both ways and a cool down time after.
If you can’t do it then your employees probably can’t either.
But you can still work exercise into your daily activities.
Think of ancient humans. Were they lifting weights an hour every day in a gym-like setting?
They got their exercise from everyday things. Walking and collecting food. Running, crouching and hunting animals.
Here are some ways to build exercise into daily life around the office:
- Put in a walking path or course in or outside of the office.
- Refigure the parking lot for more walking (keep the handicap places and maybe provide complementary umbrellas)
- Walk the stairs to set an example for others. I don’t know if it’s possible to slow down the elevators to make them less appealing, but if that’s an option go for it.
- Stand during meetings
- Take breaks in meetings for squats
I’m sure you can think of even more (and better ideas).
3. Subsidize Good Nutrition
Time to ditch the vending machines. No more snacks or sodas.
Remember that $1,600/employee cost?
Take that money and invest in things like juicing efforts or fermenting efforts. Have someone on your team that creates healthy juices and shakes for employees. Free of charge. Maybe for a small fee.
Same with fermenting. Hire someone to regularly ferment delicious veggies so employees have snacks.
Take it a step further and hire a team to make entire meals for your team. Small fees to offset some of the cost. Make it worth their while. Cheaper than McDonald’s.
See if you can partner with the local food co-op to get an employee discount so that any employee that shops there can buy local meats and veggies for less than going to the grocery store.
4. Offer, Don’t Force Education
The key with all these tips is to avoid forcing people to do things.
That’s true with education.
If you require employees to go to a daylong health seminar they won’t be interested.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t offer the education.
Seminars, books, podcasts, etc.
Buy books and create a little library for people to use. Bring in speakers during lunch breaks.
Touch on the things that affect your team the most. Those chronic illnesses, pain, fatigue, etc. When you key in on the things that plague your team the most they’ll want to learn more about how to get better.
5. Prioritize Sleep, Rest, Relaxation and Recovery
It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting as much time from your employees as possible.
But studies are now finding that working more than the typical 40-50 hour workweek is worthless and actually cuts into productivity.
As the leader, you’re better off telling your team to go home than requiring them to work overtime.
The problem may not be that your team isn’t working enough. Maybe your priorities are out of whack. You’re spreading the focus out too much.
Look there first.
Then look to build a culture that respects and appreciates off time. Provide and encourage vacation. Don’t champion those that work late into the night. Don’t give little subtle signs of discontent when a person cuts out right at 5:00 PM. Smile and ask them what they’re doing that night.
This is a big one for leading by example too. If you overwork yourself your team will follow.
And know that by allowing your team to get proper off time that they’ll bring their best when they are working.
Health is incredible for a business. It’s actually now something that can provide a competitive edge for a business that takes it seriously.
Half of employees out there suffer from a chronic illness.
You can make your company more productive than the competition with better health. And you can make your company more appealing to the best employees by offering a healthy environment.
If you’re looking for an edge, health offers a big opportunity.