We finished our employers versus barriers series, but wanted to bring back one more for a special holiday edition. A fast-approaching holiday season means more gathering with friends and family, cooler weather, and an impending new year – which translates to more food around the office, fewer opportunities to exercise outside, and New Years Resolutions right around the corner. Today, I’m going to provide a few easy strategies employers can implement to create a healthy workplace around the holidays.
Encourage moderation rather than restriction.
There is a well-documented body of research that explains that diet and restrictive eating are not sustainable and can do more harm than good. However, with the US diet market currently valued at $72 billion, employees are subjected to an influx of self-improvement marketing detailing restrictive diets, quick-fixes, and more. In reality, restrictive diets cause increased psychological stress, which can actually lead to weight gain. Promote moderation versus restriction in-house by inviting an intuitive eating speaker to present or posting intuitive eating messaging in kitchen areas. Additionally, be cognizant of timing for in-office celebrations that include food. For example, hosting a celebration right after the lunch hour may cause employees to over-indulge (because let’s face it, holiday food tastes good!) without intending to do so.
Offer group fitness opportunities.
Gyms have reported their traffic increases by as much as 40% during the New Year. Developing a new fitness routine when facilities are crowded can feel awkward and intimidating for new gym-goers. Providing opportunities for employees to exercise during their lunch break or allowing for flex time to get some movement in can be a great way to encourage a sustainable fitness routine before the holiday gym rush. For example, at Pack Health, we’re fortunate to have a few group fitness instructors in-house. During lunchtime, they host group workouts that anyone can attend. Additionally, our HR department brings in a yoga instructor twice a month to provide a class for employees. These solutions not only provide social and team-building opportunities, but they create an inviting space for employees to get a jump start on their exercise routine before the new year.
Send an office-wide calendar reminder to “stand up”.
As it starts to get darker and colder, we start moving and going outside less. Our Tech team here at Pack Health had the idea to create a daily “Stand Up” in which everyone in their department has a standing (literally, on their feet) meeting for 15 minutes to go over their daily tasks and goals. In a typical working week, desk workers spend an average of almost six full hours sitting down at their desks each day. Those who sit for prolonged periods of time are more at risk for chronic conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease and are also more likely to feel more fatigued. Why not send out an office-wide calendar invite reminding employees to stand up and move around? The extra movement will help increase blood flow, leading to more productive and alert employees.
A healthy holiday is a happy holiday. As fall hits full swing, let’s get ahead of the New Years Resolution Rush and give employees they need to take control of their health! Download our Principles to Intuitive Eating poster to share in your workplace to help employees start to create sustainable health behaviors.
Mary Beth Basu, CHC, RDN, LDN