In a time when health is at the forefront of everyone’s minds, the pandemic has discouraged many of your employees from engaging in healthy lifestyle behaviors. With the transition to remote work, increased stress, and restricted access to gyms and fitness centers, more and more workers have struggled with their motivation to exercise, thus increasing their risk of poor health outcomes related to COVID-19.
Six in ten adults in the U.S. have a chronic disease like diabetes, heart disease, or obesity, costing employers millions each year in lost productivity and engagement. Unfortunately, chronic conditions and physical inactivity also significantly increase the risk of COVID-19 complications. The good news is that these conditions can be managed or prevented through healthy lifestyle habits. The health of your employees is not a problem that you can ignore. Investing in your workers’ health will not only reduce costs for your organization but also help them lead happier, healthier lives.
Although the increasing availability of vaccines is promising, many are proceeding with caution. Those who cannot access a gym or onsite fitness centers may be finding it much harder to exercise regularly. Without these resources, numerous workers have stopped pursuing their fitness goals. The rise of this sedentary behavior will likely increase healthcare costs for your organization in the years to come. According to a 2016 CDC study, certain risk factors, such as inactivity and obesity, cost employers $34.6 billion each year. Fortunately, it’s never too late to start encouraging your employees to engage in healthy habits.
Whether your workforce needs help with resuming their exercise routines or are ready to start their fitness journey, here are a few ways to encourage employees to stay active at home:
- Suggest forms of physical activity that can be done from home. There are plenty of work-from-home-friendly exercises that your workers can choose from if they cannot go outside for a run or a walk. If they’re not ready to commit to a formal workout yet, remind them that simple household activities like cleaning the house, dancing, or even choosing to stand or walk when talking on the phone all count towards their daily movement goals. If they’re craving fresh air, encourage them to walk with their families, friends, or pets to get some steps in. These options allow your employees to stay active regardless of their lack of equipment or access to a gym.
- Incorporate activity into meetings. Leading a quick and easy team exercise at the beginning or end of each Zoom call is a fun way to motivate employees to move more during the day. Simple stretching to walking in place to squats or jumping jacks (with modifications for those who need them, of course) are all excellent places to start. Your remote workers will appreciate the break from sitting all day at their desks, and they’ll return to work with a renewed sense of focus and concentration.
- Offer incentives for healthy behaviors. Wellness incentives are a sure-fire way to increase the motivation levels of your remote workers. Employees will be more likely to regularly engage in healthy habits like exercise if rewarded for their time and effort. Rewards can include gift cards, a remote team lunch, or even a Zoom happy hour during the workday. Additionally, with the Virgin Pulse app, you have the option of allowing employees to earn more rewards for participating in healthy behaviors. Although your employees will initially be motivated by these extrinsic rewards, once your remote workers start noticing the benefits of exercise like mental health and a better work-life balance. These benefits – such as feeling healthier and more alert, making progress towards their fitness goals, improved mood and better sleep – will inspire employees to continue on the path towards a healthy lifestyle. These new habits will become a part of their daily routines.
- Introduce a company-wide wellbeing challenge. Healthy competition will spark your workers’ competitive spirits. With a solution like VP GO, your employees will be able to compete against each other in wellbeing challenges that will ultimately increase their productivity and engagement. Your workforce will be inspiring each other to do better in every challenge. When your employees participate in an activity that improves their physical, mental and social wellbeing, they’ll also be more engaged at work, build stronger bonds with their coworkers and establish a better sense of work-life balance. It’s a win-win situation for your people and your organization.
Everyone’s health journey is unique, so it’s essential to provide options that meet each member of your workforce’s needs and ability levels, especially when it comes to exercise. It’s best to take a multi-faceted approach to promote physical activity in the workplace: raise awareness of the need for regular movement, share the benefits of exercise and provide a variety of tools and resources that your populations can access whenever and wherever they need them.
Inspiring your employees to be more physically active is just a small step towards achieving holistic wellbeing. In addition to providing your workforce with the resources they need to stay active at home, your organization should also focus on whole-person wellbeing, including mental health, financial wellbeing, nutrition, sleep, and more. By helping your employees adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles despite the pandemic, you’ll build a healthier, resilient, and more productive workforce that will support your business’s continued success for years to come.