How your job can affect your wellness
Aside from disengagement, the other major problem that exists in North America is the rising obesity rate.
There are over half a billion obese people in the world and the money spent due to obesity-related diseases is getting higher every day.
We couldn’t help but question if work-related stress is one of the reasons that employees pick up some unhealthy habits. As we went deep into the internet, we stumbled across a lot of research that proved our theory correct.
The folks over at Gallup conducted a study about general well-being in over 150 countries that lasted over 60 years. They interviewed people of all ages to get a good sample, and they concluded that there were five essential elements to well-being:
- Career Wellbeing
- Social Wellbeing
- Financial Wellbeing
- Physical Wellbeing
- Community Wellbeing
When one of those factors begin to go awry, it affects the other. And according to researchers Tom Rath and Jim Harter, they found a strong correlation between career wellbeing and good health.
When employees are stressed at work, the high levels of stress and anxiety translate to higher cortisol throughout the body. The excess cortisol creates an increased appetite, weakens the immune system, and causes weight gain, among other things.
Not only does this affect health, but it affects office productivity. As employees will feel more fatigued, sleep less, and engagement at work will go down.
So, it’s safe to hypothesize that companies should be worrying about their employees’ health, and taking action to make sure that they are creating a good environment that will foster individual growth, as well as physical fitness.
To answer the questions posed: Is your job making you gain weight? If you’re going into work feeling stressed, anxious, and developing bad habits, then it is very likely that you’re gaining weight because of work.
Fortunately, we’ve spoken to some industry leaders for advice and here’s what companies can do to improve employee health and increase productivity.
Focus on mental health
A sound mind leads to a sound body. In the States, and all across the world really, it feels like mental health is a taboo subject. If someone is feeling depressed, the assumption is that they are exaggerating, or the person is ignored.
We spoke to Dale Beerman, the founder of Pacifica, a tool to help improve stress and anxiety. He provided us with a lot of interesting data on the effects that mental health and how it affects workers on a daily basis. Here are just a few:
- Depression is estimated to cause 200 million lost work days each year,
at a price of 10s of billions of dollars.
- Lost productivity directly associated with anxiety disorders is approximately $4.1 billion per year in the United States.
- Telephone-based intervention for anxiety improved
workplace productivity, equivalent to about 2.6 hours of extra work per
week, worth about $1,800 per year (based on average wages) — while the
intervention cost the employers an estimated $100 to $400 per treated
- On average, workers who must take time off because of stress stay home for more than 20 days, according to the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of
Dale proceeded to tell us that there are very few tools for treating mental illness in the workplace:
Individual therapy is not necessarily cost effective, and won’t scale. Of the 40 million people in the U.S. with anxiety disorders, only 1/3 of them actually receive professional help, generally due to the stigma, the cost, or access to care.
This just goes on to prove that as a society, we aren’t learning from our mistakes. HR departments AND employees are both scared to talk about the “invisible” elephant in the room. And when we ignore major problems, it’ll continue to snowball and create bigger problems.
Here’s a great video that describes some of the problems with anxiety in today’s age:
A forward-thinking company will do its best to comply to their employees needs and make sure that they are well between the ears. For managers, improving employees’ mental health may seem pricey, but it’s their responsibility to keep them healthy and happy.
Once employees have peace of mind, they’ll be able to be more productive at work, and they’ll be able to get into shape.
Stay committed to a good diet
Most people they think a diet is a short-term thing. However, it’s about keeping a consistent mix of all the foods/nutrients your body needs and making sure to burn off the calories.
Most Americans are living sedentary lifestyles, being made to work long hours, sitting down, staring into computers all day. Not to mention the fact that they are not necessarily eating the healthiest of foods, even when they are up and at it.
A malnourished body can easily mess up a workday. Causing grogginess, mental retention problems, and concentration difficulties as well.
Obesity is becoming a national (worldwide?) problem
She let us know that the United States is facing an unparalleled health epidemic, driven largely by chronic diseases that are threatening American businesses’ competitiveness because of lost productivity and unsustainable health care costs.
The medical care costs of people with chronic diseases was reported in 2009 to account for more than 75% of the nation’s $2.2 trillion medical care costs.
These problems still exist today (the report is six years old), and obesity is becoming a national concern. We’re starting to see drastic changes being made to the way foods are being labeled and companies are being exposed for having addictive chemicals and additives.
So try and stay away from those products that have high fructose corn syrups, aspartame, or any MSG’s.
And no matter what body type you have, keep it healthy and make sure that you’re supplying it with the right nutrients. It’ll make you slim down, or gain good weight — yes, it’s possible.
Companies must go “All-In” on wellness
Management has to be in on it. If they want employees to have a sound mind and sound body, they have to provide the right kind of atmosphere that will allow them to grow within those fields.
Are companies committing to employee wellness initiatives? It may be too early to tell if some of the current solutions are working, as there isn’t one clear program that is dominating in this important field.
But I do know that by measuring and putting an emphasis on improving wellness, it’ll boost employee engagement.
She gave us an example of the Non-Profit, HealthCorps, where they brought in a couple of things to improve their team’s health.
They had standing desks, meditation rooms with nap areas, a subsidized gym program, and they even have a desk with a pedal, so you can get your blood circulating while working.
Employees feel like the executive team does really care about their health, and since this is a non-profit with a health platform, it seemed intuitive to offer these healthy lifestyle-support options to employees.
The employer knew the benefits of having employees that were healthy and active, and how it affects the office ecosystem. Healthier employees are better employees regardless of age, gender, or ethnicity.
So, managers, buy into wellness programs and do something that’ll benefit their health.
Make wellness an unofficial core value
At Officevibe, we measure wellness using our platform and get feedback on what we can do to make things better.
Aside from that, we want to make sure that people are healthy and that they are able to grow as an individual.
When we first started chatting with other companies about being healthy and wellness initiatives for their employees, we saw that organizations that were serious about it treat their employee wellness similar to a core value.
We spoke to companies like NextJump that went nuts working out. They invested big time on an on-site gym and the ROI turned out to be great for them. And they’re an e-commerce site of sorts.
I know that sports apparel companies, software companies, and health companies, go all out to make it known that they want their employees to be healthy. Not just for the company, but for the individual as well.
Recently, we spoke to Marco Gonzales, Senior Director at Herbalife (North America). Herbalife is a major nutrition company that makes wellness a top priority. In fact, they were ranked one of the fittest 15 companies in America by Men’s Health Magazine. Marco let us know a couple of things:
Herbalife not only has an established employee wellness program, but it also offers a subsidized café with nutritious meals; all especially designed by doctors and nutritionists. The company also incentivizes employees to be healthy and gives premium breaks to employees who actively seek to be healthier (I.e. Biometric screenings, non-smoking, etc).
So not only do they go all out to make sure that their employees are healthier, but they manage to go the extra mile and incentivize them for staying away from smoking and have biometric screenings.
I decided to dig a little deeper and even found this to be true on their site and their social responsibility page.
Companies that make wellness a priority will see great results from their employees. In fact, the ones that we’ve spoken to almost have a productivity-cult-like vibe to them — They love getting more things accomplished and going out and pushing their minds and body.
Make it a team effort
NextJump was a great example of a company that decided to make wellness a team-building activity.
They track and measure all their physical activity, not to mention that they compete against each other. They have team competitions because they believe it is more fun that way.
There’s definitely power in numbers. It’s easier to get healthier when you’re motivated by those around you. If you’re going to the gym with friends and pushing each other, chances are you’ll be able to accomplish more.
Anne St. Hilaire, Marketing Coordinator for Recruiter.com agrees that it’s important to make fitness a team effort. The company finds ways for the team to excel in different competitions as well. Here’s what she had to say:
Teamwork and team building activities that are healthy or involve athletics are a great way to promote office wellness. Teams or even an entire company can take part in races and relays such as the Tough Mudder or Spartan Race.
She also let us know that websites such as Groupon or LivingSocial have other team members can take part in, such as a healthy cooking classes and outdoor activities. All these activities bring the teams closer and promote well-being.
We’ve had a chat about team-building in general with Kris Braun of Happenate. You can check it out here on CultureTalks
One can only assume that there is a bond between wellness, team-building, and engagement. As when those three factors all combine can create some extremely happy employees.
Put emphasis on ergonomics
This one probably goes overlooked by a lot of companies, but it’s just as important as all the other ones.
So let’s say your company has all the nifty perks. Gym, healthy meals, employees have a great state of mind, etc. However, you can be lacking in one area that completely affects your whole body. Your posture and alignment.
Little things like having a bit of a hunch and poor (worn-out or old) computer equipment can have you feeling more fatigued and exhausted.
This is due to the lack of oxygen entering your body as well as the blood circulation you have while sitting down.
Having ergonomic equipment will help increase blood circulation throughout your body and give your more energy throughout the day. Your company can also try things like walking or standing desks, better chairs, and even shirts!
There have been some advancements that we’ve loved (and used), but we found one that looks amazing.
Alignmed is a stylish, wearable medical device that is used by professional athletes, singers, and more. It comes as a shirt, vest, or bra. The AlignMed shirts claim to make “Sedentary Workers 13% More Productive and Up to 29% Less Fatigued.”
The company has been around for almost 10 years and has been changing lives since. They have had a lot of research done by major medicine programs and have a large group of medical professionals that back their product. Aside from being published and mentioned in major journals, they get praised by plenty of endorsers that go from NBA studs like Anthony Davis to legendary performer Elton John.
These shirts use neuro-band technology to activate muscles and nerves, improving performance, posture, and lessening fatigue. Here’s an animated video that shows how it works:
We were completely impressed with that they do so we got in contact in with Don Klosterman, one of the company’s directors, and he let us know that this product is the real deal.
We’re in a national epidemic of bad posture not just with the age group one would expect… boomers and seniors, but people of all ages due to the computer era here and text neck from smart phones. Bad posture affects a great deal of one’s bodily functions. And living a sedentary lifestyle is a killer.
Although it may seem a bit pricey per individual ($95) per Alignmed Posture Shirt, it is covered by most insurance plans, as it is viewed as medical device. But even if you pay the full $95 it looks a lot less steep when you think about the thousands you save in potential medical costs.
Sedentary workers are more likely to get back and neck problems, so having something that is comfortable and can help you in the long term is definitely a smart buy. As an individual and as an office. And considering they have group deals, it’s definitely something an organization can try to find out more about.
Bottom-line, a good posture and an ergonomically sound office and body will help boost productivity and health. So it shouldn’t go overlooked. Even if your company can’t purchase all the expensive keyboards, chairs, and desks.
It’s definitely worth getting a couple things here and there to better your posture and alignment.
So, is your job making you unhealthy?
Do you believe that your office is creating an “unhealthy” atmosphere? Start looking into different wellness initiatives that will benefit you and your colleagues.
If you have any thoughts, let us know @Officevibe on twitter, or shoot us an e-mail.
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