A healthy workplace begins with well-informed employees. February, National Heart Health Month, is the perfect time to help employees understand what conditions or lifestyle choices may increase their risk of heart disease, and what they can do to get back on track.
Cardiovascular disease isn’t just a problem for individuals and their families. CVD affects around seven million people in the United Kingdom and is responsible for many deaths and other severe health related problems. CVD is also a major issue for health and social care as 6.8 million people are living with cardiovascular conditions. This places a considerable financial burden on the NHS and wider society, with CVD-related healthcare costs in England alone amounting to an estimated £7.4 billion per year, and annual costs to the wider economy being an estimated £15.8 billion.
It’s also a big threat to the British workforce. Research has shown that males between 20 and 64 years of age in semi- and unskilled manual occupations run a three times higher risk of premature death from CVD compared to those in professional and managerial positions.
Help your employees understand the risk factors that can lead to heart disease and other CVD-related chronic diseases. Here are a few simple things you can do to create a healthy work environment that encourages employees to stay active and adopt healthier lifestyles.
10 Tips to Create a Heart-Healthy Work Environment
1. Refresh your conference or client-meeting snack menu. Instead of breakfast croissants and pastries or late afternoon tea and biscuits, offer fresh fruit or protein-based choices like hard-boiled eggs, unsalted nuts, or greek yoghurt.
2. Offer a lunch and learn series with guest speakers on health, nutrition, and stress management. Programs like these are a great way for employees to learn what habits to drop, what needs to be tweaked, and how they can get started. Moreover, offering this type of program shows that your company cares about its employee’s health whether they’re on or off the clock.
3. Offer healthy lunch options like vegetarian dishes or salads instead of pizza and fish and chips. Food has a direct impact on performance and productivity. Unhealthy lunch options can release glucose too quickly, giving employees a quick energy boost before causing them to crash. Heart-healthy choices that foster the production of dopamine, like fruit and vegetables, help people avoid the dreaded after-lunch slump and increase feelings of creativity, thirst for knowledge, and motivation.
4. Get people moving. Start small by encouraging managers to have walking one-to-one meetings with supervisees or invest in a corporate fitness solution with multiple activities to choose. Even if it’s only a quick 15-minute walk around the building, doing something active will help your team return refreshed, clear-headed, and ready to tackle afternoon tasks.
5. Encourage people to take the stairs by posting signs with healthy living tips near lifts and escalators.
6. Create a step challenge. Up the ante with prizes that encourage healthy habits like a FitBit or Apple Watch.
7. Create a company team for local 5Ks or charity runs and work with your corporate communications team to share event photos on internal and external communications channels.
8. Publish a workplace wellness newsletter that shares inspiring stories from company wellness champions, information about upcoming fun runs, and tips for staying active during the day. You can also include healthy packed lunch recipes and healthy office snack ideas.
9. Offer a standing desk option to current employees and include information about how to sign up for one in your company’s onboarding materials.
10. Host a hydration contest by challenging employees to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day for 30 days. Incentivize participation with branded company merchandise.
Promote Heart Health Year-Round
Preventative steps, like the ones above, are a big part of keeping your workforce happy and well. Commit to improving your workplace environment by taking the steps towards healthier solutions for this year ahead. #FindanactivitytoLove