How To Start A Wellness Team At Your Organization, Part 2: Make Fitness A Part Of Your Workplace
Jacque Crockford, Exercise Physiology Content Manager at the American Council on Exercise (ACE), shares five ways to up the fitness factor at your organization.Wellness at work encompasses many different areas, including having nutritious food options available, access to stress-relief activities, and even free health screenings. Of course, fitness plays an important role, too.
“Research shows that when employee wellness programs are in place, there’s a decrease in absenteeism and an increase in work production and overall job satisfaction. Wellness programs benefit employees — and the employer,” says Jacque Crockford, Exercise Physiology Content Manager at the American Council on Exercise (ACE).
In our blog How to Start a Wellness Team at Your Organization, we gave you a step-by-step guide to starting an organizational wellness team. If you’ve done the work to create a wellness program at your organization or there’s one already in place, here are some ways to incorporate fitness into it:
Understand your workplace culture
When working with your wellness team or HR to incorporate more fitness activities into your workplace, think about what would appeal to you and your co-workers. For instance, military-style boot camp classes are popular, but if you work with people who are new to exercise, they may be intimidated and choose not to participate. Crockford recommends creating a simple survey with fitness ideas and letting people share what resonates most with them. This tactic prevents wasting money on events or activities that will have low-engagement and may stop the fitness initiative before it has a chance to catch on.
Do your research
Look into what resources your organization already has available. Do you have a colleague with a fitness certification that would be willing to teach for a stipend or reduced fee? Does your HR department already offer gym discounts or fitness reimbursements for equipment, like a treadmill, that you can purchase for a common area or breakroom? Think about what low-cost options you already have at your disposal and how you can use them.
Make small changes
There are ways to make your workplace more fitness-friendly that don’t involve major changes. For example, if you can turn an empty storage closet into a place where employees can safely store their bikes, you may encourage more people to ride to work. If stairwells at your workplace are locked or poorly lit, people can’t or won’t take the stairs. Opening the stairwell doors, enhancing lighting, and hanging motivational quotes or images on each landing, may inspire employees to skip the elevator.
Not only can a fitness program at work help nurses be more active, but it can also foster relationships and connection. Consider signing up a team for an obstacle course race, to walk a 5K, or even to play a team sport, like softball. Workplace challenges (like the ones we provide as part of Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation) can be a fun way to foster friendly competition at work.
While some employees may love the idea of participating in a sports league with colleagues or taking lunchtime walks together, others may need another push. Crockford suggests asking HR if there’s a budget for fitness incentives. Giving out prizes for completing a wellness challenge is a way to boost participation and motivation.
Possible incentive ideas include:
- Discounts on health insurance
- Gift cards
- Activity monitors or wearable devices
- Gym memberships
- Paid time off
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