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10 Tips to promote healthy habits in the workplace

19th January 2024

healhy habits blog cover shows running shoes, exercise equipment and healthy food

Good and healthy habits are hard to come by, but the workplace environment can be pivotal in encouraging employees to make healthier choices with in their daily routine. 

There are many things organisations and wellbeing leads can do to help make it easier for employees to adopt heathy habits. From the physical setup of the office space to the company policies and initiatives, there are myriad strategies that can make it easier for employees to adopt healthier behaviour for the long term. 

By prioritising these aspects, organisations not only invest in the present wellbeing of their workforce but also set the foundation for a more resilient and productive future. Gone are the days where organisations viewed employee wellness as an afterthought or a short-term trend. It’s now widely recognised that investing in employee wellbeing is a strategic imperative.  

Forward-thinking companies understand that a healthy workforce is not just a nice to have but a fundamental driver of success. By embedding wellness into the fabric of the organisation, companies not only attract top talent but also create an environment where employees thrive, innovate, and contribute meaningfully, ensuring sustained success and growth in the ever-evolving landscape of the modern workplace. 

Benefits of Healthy Habits in the Workplace

Healthy habits encompass more than physical fitness; they involve physical health, mental health, stress reduction, and overall wellbeing. Embracing these habits can significantly impact employee productivity, engagement, and retention. Employees who feel supported in their health initiatives tend to exhibit higher morale, reduced absenteeism, and increased focus. Moreover, a healthier workforce often leads to lower healthcare costs and an enhanced company culture. 

Building Healthy Habits with Health@Work

At Health@Work, we’re dedicated to cultivating healthier habits among employees. Our ‘Healthier Habits – A Step by Step Guide to Lasting Change‘ course is designed to equip individuals with the necessary tools for sustainable lifestyle changes. We offer a range of courses covering healthy diet, weight loss, how to exercise regularly, stress management, mindfulness and sleep—an all encompassing approach to nurturing employee wellbeing. 

In addition, our wellbeing champion and wellbeing strategy courses are built around the literature supported behaviour change principles ensuring participants who are leading the wellbeing programmes at their organisations have the necessary subject knowledge to drive their perspective  programmes forward post learning. 

However, you don’t need to wait to learn the latest behavioural science theories to start. Below are 10 effective ways your workplace can support employee wellbeing behaviours: 

10 Tips to Promote Healthy Habits in the Workplace 

1. Run Employee Behaviour Change Workshops

Engage employees in interactive workshops focused on understanding habits, motivation, and behaviour change. These sessions can empower individuals with practical strategies for adopting and sustaining healthy habits. Introducing the basics of self-determination theory within these workshops can serve as an excellent starting point. Explaining the theory’s pillars of autonomy, competence, and relatedness can offer a foundational understanding of intrinsic motivation, fostering a sense of ownership over personal wellness goals.” Health at work can also help here, we deliver both online and inhouse sessions. 

2. Use The Nudge Theory to Help Employees Make Better Decisions

Implementing nudge theory in the workplace can subtly guide employees toward healthier choices without enforcing strict rules. Nudge theory operates on the principle of influencing decision-making by altering the environment. Simple adjustments could include placing healthy snacks at eye level in the cafeteria, creating walking paths, or using visual cues to encourage taking the stairs.  These small, indirect interventions can significantly impact behaviour without imposing restrictions, gently steering employees towards making healthy choices.

One notable example of successfully applying nudge theory in a workplace setting comes from Google. 

At Google, they wanted to encourage healthier eating habits among employees. They rearranged their cafeteria layout, making healthier food options more visible and easily accessible. They placed water and healthy snacks at eye level, while less healthy choices were moved to less prominent areas. Additionally, they adjusted the portion sizes of plates and utensils, subtly nudging employees towards smaller, more balanced meals. 

As a result, there was a significant shift in employees’ food choices. Studies conducted after the implementation showed an increase in the consumption of fruits and vegetables and a decrease in the intake of less healthy options. This simple yet effective use of nudge theory demonstrated how small environmental changes could influence behaviour positively without restricting choices. 

3. Create supportive policies  

Establishing workplace policies that support and encourage healthy habits can significantly impact employee wellbeing. Implementing flexible work hours to accommodate exercise, offering remote work options, or providing paid time off for health-related activities can empower employees to prioritise their wellbeing. Additionally, crafting policies that promote mental health support, such as offering counselling services or mental health days, demonstrates a commitment to holistic employee wellness. 

For instance, integrating innovative practices like walking meetings into company policies can be remarkably beneficial. Encouraging employees to hold meetings while walking not only promotes physical activity but also stimulates creativity and productivity.  

4. Offer Incentives  

Introducing incentives can be a powerful motivator for employees to adopt and maintain healthy habits. Providing rewards, whether in the form of wellness program discounts, gym memberships, or even monetary incentives, can encourage participation and sustained engagement. For instance, establishing wellness challenges with achievable milestones and rewarding employees who reach these goals encourages healthy competition while promoting positive behaviours. Moreover, acknowledging and celebrating milestones in employee’s wellness journeys can reinforce the value placed on their health and wellbeing within the workplace culture. 

5. Lead from the Top Down  

Leadership sets the tone for workplace culture. When leaders actively demonstrate and promote healthy habits, it sends a powerful message throughout the organisation. Executives and managers leading by example—whether it’s taking regular breaks, prioritising mental health, or openly discussing their commitment to fitness—inspire employees to follow suit. Encouraging leaders to share their wellness journeys or initiatives can humanise the workplace and create a sense of camaraderie among teams. Moreover, when leadership visibly supports and participates in wellness programmes, it encourages employees to engage more actively, knowing that their efforts are valued and supported by the highest levels of the organisation. 

6. Tailor to Your Employee Wellbeing Needs

Recognise that each workplace is unique, and so are the needs of employees. Conduct surveys or assessments to understand the specific health and wellness interests of your workforce. This information can help tailor wellness programmes to address their specific needs and preferences. For instance, if stress management is a prevalent concern, offering workshops on mindfulness or stress reduction techniques might be beneficial. If physical health is a priority, organising fitness classes or providing access to health screenings could be more impactful. By customising wellness initiatives to cater to the diverse needs of your employees, you demonstrate a commitment to their individual wellbeing, fostering a more supportive and inclusive work environment. 

7. Tap into Motivational Waves at Certain Time Points in the Year

Identify key moments throughout the year that naturally spark motivation and align wellness initiatives with these periods. For instance, the start of a new year, the onset of spring, or even after major company milestones can serve as ideal times to reinvigorate wellness efforts. Launching wellness challenges, setting collective goals, or initiating new programmes during these motivational waves can harness the inherent energy and enthusiasm.

8. Offer Free Health Checks

Providing free health checks or wellness screenings not only serves as a proactive approach to employee wellbeing but also acts as a powerful motivator. It empowers employees by offering insights into their health status, encouraging a proactive approach to their wellbeing. Knowing their health metrics (blood pressure, body fat, cholesterol levels) can motivate individuals to take charge of their health, inspiring them to make positive lifestyle changes. Moreover, the accessibility and convenience of these services—whether onsite or through partnerships with healthcare providers—signal the employer’s commitment to supporting their employees’ health.

Health@Work offer employee health screening packages to suit everyone. Our employee health checks promote a proactive approach to staying healthy and helping to spot any concerning signs before they become a problem. This, in turn, can motivate employees to engage more actively in other wellness initiatives offered by the organisation. 

9. Align Your Why

Communicate the purpose behind promoting healthy habits in the workplace. Ensure that the objectives of these initiatives are clearly aligned with the company’s values and mission. When employees understand the ‘why’ behind these efforts—whether it’s enhancing productivity, fostering a supportive culture, or genuinely caring for their wellbeing—it creates a sense of purpose and relevance. Share success stories, testimonials, or data showcasing the positive impact of these initiatives on both individual wellbeing and overall organisational performance. When the ‘why’ resonates with employees, it strengthens their connection to the initiatives, fostering a deeper commitment and engagement in building a healthier workplace culture.

10. Commit for the Long Term

Emphasise the long-term nature of fostering a healthy workplace culture. Acknowledge that building and sustaining healthy habits is not a quick fix but an ongoing journey. Encourage consistency and commitment by demonstrating that these initiatives are part of a continuous effort rather than short-term trends. Continuously evaluate and adjust programmes based on employee feedback and evolving needs. Highlight the organisation’s dedication to supporting ongoing wellness by integrating these initiatives into the company’s long-term strategy. By fostering a culture of continuous improvement and long-term commitment to employee wellbeing, organisations create an environment where healthy habits become ingrained and thrive as an integral part of the workplace culture.

It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint 

Remember, building a healthy workplace isn’t about immediate transformations; it’s about steady progress with small changesIt’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

Creating a workplace that champions healthy habits isn’t just beneficial; it’s imperative for the success and wellbeing of your team. Health@Work offers valuable resources to aid in this journey. We’re proud to continue to support organisations in their efforts to prioritise the health and vitality of their workforce.  

Our comprehensive suite of resources, from tailored workshops to evidence based wellness programme design, is designed to support an environment where employees thrive. Get in touch with Health@Work today to explore how their services can elevate your workplace health initiatives. 

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