15 Easy Ways to Encourage Healthy Employees

It’s a new year [at last!], and with the pandemic still rampant, staying healthy is more front-of-mind and important to us than ever. But even in “regular” years, of the ~30% of Americans who make new year’s resolutions, 4 of the 5 most common resolutions all center around getting healthier [exercise more, eat healthier, lose weight, reduce stress – the fifth one is save money].

Working to get healthier yourself is a great goal, but have you thought about helping your employees get healthier, too? According to studies, healthier employees result in higher morale, satisfaction, and productivity, lower absenteeism, improved teamwork, and reduced healthcare costs.

The biggest challenge is motivating employees who aren’t taking measures to keep themselves healthy. Here are some ways to help employees get more invested in their own health care:

Collaborate for a healthy work culture

1. Include your team in your efforts to encourage employee health. Brainstorm ways you can all work together to improve employee health as a company or store.

2. Once healthy initiatives are in place, regularly survey your staff to gather feedback about how the program is working.

Promote preventive health care

3. Everyone loves a freebie – urge your team members to take advantage of free preventive screenings, immunizations, lab tests, and prescriptions offered by local clinics or pharmacies.

Offer healthy eating options

4. Provide a fridge for employees to bring healthy eats from home, offer a fresh bowl of fruit for healthy snacking, and replace sugary drinks in your fridge or vending machine with water and juices.

5. Buy healthy lunches for team meetings, and develop a healthy food & drink policy for company/store events.

Get your team in gear

6. Begin each workday with a 10-minute group stretch.

7. Form and fund an employee sports team or, once the pandemic has passed, enter together as a team in fun runs and charity events.

8. Give your team wearable step trackers so they can see how much they walk during the day.

Weigh in on healthy weight

9. Invite a dietician to speak to your team about the importance of healthy weight to overall health and happiness.

10. Help pay for employee participation in weight-management programs.

Help reduce tobacco use

11. Ensure your workplace and all company vehicles are smoke- and tobacco-free.

12. Subsidize smoking-cessation aids, like nicotine replacement patches or support groups.

Don’t forget mental health

13. Encourage positive communication among your employees, and between management and staff.

14. Invite a professional to teach your team some effective stress-reduction techniques.

Make it FUN

15. Organize health-oriented, incentive-driven workplace challenges, such as:

  • Walk 150,000 steps within a month;
  • Share healthy recipes during a team potluck lunch; or
  • Do 10 guided meditations within a month.

Reward your team with participation prizes, but be careful – while friendly competition can be fun, you don’t want to add to employee stress levels!

Remember to monitor healthy lifestyle initiatives and continually solicit feedback from your team, either face-to-face or via online surveys.