According to the Mayo Clinic, sitting is the new smoking. With the majority of people lacking physical movement throughout the day, the need for healthy work environment is vital. Because, unfortunately, encouraging your employees to just walk more on their breaks or in between work activities just doesn’t cut it.
Healthy Work Environment Examples
We compiled a list of 19 favorite healthy work environment examples that our WellSteps guides have shared with many companies and their employees. Having a positive work culture around physical movement contributes to:
- increased productivity
- decreased absenteeism
- lower health care costs
- improved mental health
So just putting a few of these ideas into place will contribute to a better well-being for not only your employees, but your company as a whole.
1. Incentivize Employees to Walk to a Specific Location
Instead of taking laps around the room, if all of your team members visited a certain place away from their work station, the activity could be gamified. It could be a location that everyone enjoys and so getting away to visit it on foot, especially if outdoors, is a welcome break. Some companies incentivize group goals with swag, an early release day, or raffle prizes.
During work hours, your company could sponsor fundraising endeavors (like March of Dimes) and have employees signup to represent. Not only is it supporting the health of employees and others in your community, it creates a bond that your organization is a part of for the greater good.
3. Develop Indoor and Outdoor Wellness Trails
Just like universities or airports have distance maps and path suggestions, you can develop the same for your organization’s property and surrounding public spaces. Have varied length options, both indoor and outdoor. Also ensure that a few routes are ADA accessible for everyone.
4. Add Artwork and Interesting Decor to Trafficked Areas
Gray walls and empty areas with nothing to brighten up the space certainly deflate the energy. If you’re trying to encourage walking through certain areas, or need a better mood for a heavily trafficked pathway, consider decorating the environment. You can add certain elements to increase productivity and make things more comfortable for workers. Try gathering art work from your employees children, comic strips, or art from local artists to spotlight in the areas you are looking to spruce up!
5. Hold Walking Meetings With Small Groups
If meetings contain no more than five people or so, encourage your people to have walking meetings. Instead of sitting around a blank table, walk in one direction for the first half of the time allotted, then return. Movement can spark ideas during discussions and lead to healthier mobility for many.
6. Offer Flexible Lunch Breaks For “Buddy” Walks
Catching up with coworkers at lunch time is a highlight of most work days. Allowing your employees to connect with other employees, even from different departments or areas, benefits everyone. Turning the time into completing a small distance goal with a friend encourages greater participation rather than forcing physical movement with people they may not connect with.
7. Incentivize Distance Parking or Biking to Work
Give employees rewards for when they intentionally build movement into their commute to work. Those that park far away on purpose, or ride their bike to work, have taken their mandatory work to a healthy work environment. For employees that live too far away for a daily bike ride, provide them with ideas for areas where they park to still get a few good walks in each day.
If your workplace has a number of stairwells, put them to good use. With the honor system, or if you have the ability to scan employee badges easily, track who travels up and down the stairs the most in a period of time while moving around the workplace. Let employees turn in stair tracking data from their smart devices or fitness wearables too.
9. Hold Bend and Stretch Sessions Before the Workday
These could be virtual 15 minute windows that employees tune into from their work computers or devices before the morning meetings start. Or have a gathering place daily or weekly where everyone can hear the full department or company updates while stretching. Make sure poses are simple enough for everyone and there is enough space for comfort.
10. Have Movement Breaks During Long Meetings or Trainings
Build in break times for every hour of sitting so that everyone can take a mental pause, but move around as much as possible too. Remind your managers and team leads that conduct the meetings to ensure this happens. You could require that everyone move out of the room or meeting place to guarantee they at least stand rather than just staying put waiting for everyone to return.
11. Highlight Places Around the Worksite for Physical Activities
You don’t have to stick with just walking. Open wall spaces can do well for wall sits. Long hallways can function as a great place to do lunges the entire way. Empty corners can allow people to get down and do push-ups or sit-ups. Have a pull-up bar on designated door frames that can be used when employees pass through.
12. Start Clubs for Running, Biking, Skating, or Dancing
Especially for larger companies where many employees don’t know each other, you can have clubs that get together for common interests. Let them plan regular activities or get together, even for just half an hour a week before or after work. Any sports or hobbies including movement or exercise will work great.
13. Have a Goal Chart Tracking Progress in the Office
Whatever the current wellness challenge or company health goal is, have a visual showing progress for everyone to see. Whether it’s a competition or anonymous efforts being tracked, keep it updated and engaging to encourage support.
14. Negotiate Corporate Discounts for Health Memberships
Work with local gyms, health clubs, or sporting centers to get special rates for your employees. Offer them as a benefit and hold occasional get togethers or events there. Don’t require your people to have memberships, but make them available and worthwhile.
15. Hang Fitness Posters In Strategic Areas
Put visuals of simple exercises and movements team members can do in their regular areas. Show instructional pictures of how to perform the actions at their desks, or even options for when they’re sitting. Includes stretches, quick small aerobics staying in one place, or regular items that can be lifted or moved.
16. Exercise Equipment Swap
Have an area where basic exercise equipment can be borrowed, traded, or used in most areas of the workplace. Provide, or encourage employees to bring items like:
- light dumbbells
- small hand weights
- exercise bands
- yoga mats
- fitness balls
17. Invite Shoe Consultants on Site for a Day
Ensuring proper footwear and equipment will be key when asking for increased walking from your employees while at work. Shoe consultants, podiatrists, or even physical therapists can be brought in house for a wellness day and your people can get their feet checked. Same goes for posture or ergonomic specialists.
18. Provide a Bike Helmet Fitting Day
Have fitness and safety teams come in house to provide insight on what types and sizes of helmets or sporting gear should be worn individually. Couple this with challenges or promotions you may be doing, like the encouraging for people to start biking to work.
19. Ensure Bicycle Rack Areas Are Well Maintained
Keep high quality bike racks available on site for your employees to use. If theft is a problem, keep the area fenced in and access restricted to employees with scanning badges. Make sure it’s well-lit for any time of day, and the routes to and from are clearly marked for other traffic.
Leadership as Healthy Work Environment Examples
There’s always one or two great employees that are the epitome of health. Company management would do well to follow their examples and be the leaders of creating a healthy work environment. But sometimes it takes a little help from the right guide.
Get started on figuring out the best wellness program options and start creating your healthy work environment for your employees today. Join WellSteps on a free demo and discover how you can put this into place for your organization.