It is surprising to think now that the concept of “health in the workplace” is a 21st century one. It seems self-evident these days that it would behoove any work environment to be geared toward maintaining the health of its staff, and yet for the longest time, the divide was “we’ll provide you benefits, but you can take care of yourself on your own time”. To this very day, there are still some offices that simply haven’t, or won’t, consider healthy office initiatives as anything other than perks to be cut in lean times, as opposed to a means to a more productive end.
The things I’m writing about in this article are not theoretical: they are based on my personal experience working for ORCHARD At The OFFICE, the largest office fruit delivery service in Texas. The ownership team of Kevin and Amy Long are not only purveyors of fresh fruit to contribute to a work/health balance; they make it possible in our office as well. As an employee, I am encouraged to do the things enumerated below to achieve my personal fitness goals – and the result is that I feel like a better employee who is willing to go to greater lengths to help our team succeed. By recognizing the link between happiness, health, and productivity, ORCHARD At The OFFICE has become a great place to work.
Whether you’re part of a small business or Fortune 500 company, you can contribute to a culture of wellness in your workplace. It needn’t involve rustling a tribe of yoga-friendly goats, or trying to organize team triathlons. Fundamental changes can be made incrementally.
You don’t have to have the title of Wellness Director in your organization to help share basic fitness tips. Many of our friends-in-wellness, whether they’re part of the International Association of Administrative Professionals or Dallas HR or any other role, have shared their success with passing along simple e-mails or putting up informational flyers. These can be infographics about nutrition, or shared articles on exercises that can be done in the workplace. If you need one to get started, you can pass along the link to this article we wrote for D Magazine entitled “Take Five!” which gives tips on how to turn that five-minute office break into a chance for healthy living.
Another effective method is to start a private social media group, where those interested in the concept of work/health balance can share ideas. Whether it’s recipes that can be prepared in a company kitchen, or simple breathing exercises while working at a desk, using the “hive mind” to gather ideas to forward along to colleagues is ultimately rewarding for the company’s bottom line.
A workplace environment conducive to the physical and mental well-being of the staff creates a positive atmosphere in which employees are willing to work longer (and with greater efficiency) because they become task-oriented instead of “watching the clock”.
Information doesn’t need to be conveyed in an evangelical method – if one is told, in effect, “you’re doing it all wrong” by a work colleague, the message will be lost. I, personally, have the benefit of a wife who is a personal trainer, but that doesn’t mean I can inflict “suggestions” on my fellow staff. “Unsolicited advice is criticism”, as they say, and if I had someone at work trying to talk me out of any bit of chocolate, I’m sure it would drive me bananas! At the end of the day, the enthusiasm you feel from your own success in adopting work/health habits will persuade others to join in.
It goes without saying that, as an office fruit delivery service, we’d like to see every business with a well-stocked fruit pantry. Our fresh fruit selections are helping satisfy hundreds of businesses in the Dallas/Fort Worth area alone, and the predictable result is happier employees. Many studies have documented the correlation between healthy eating and happiness, and you can see some of those studies on our website’s page that encourages you to join the healthy office movement.
The concept of “healthy alternatives”, of course, can extend far beyond nutritious snacks. Ergonomic appliances and office furniture, comfortable and comforting work environments, the greater emphasis on allowing people to Be Themselves to the appropriate extent – these are all fundamental shifts in the idea of an office where humans are statistical necessities plugged into various machines. The money spent to paint an office interior so that it becomes an inviting place to work transforms itself into employees with a sense of physical and emotional well-being.
THE RIGHT METRICS
A great many companies have soured on the phrase “wellness initiatives” because they feel they were promised a bill of goods they never received: a staff with fewer sick days. The assumption was that if the company paid for gym memberships or flu shots, all would quite literally be well. So it’s important that when we think of a work/health balance, we understand the goals.
Quite simply, the link is this: a workplace environment conducive to the physical and mental well-being of the staff creates a positive atmosphere in which employees are willing to work longer (and with greater efficiency) because they become task-oriented instead of “watching the clock”. The real key is to see the long-term benefits of incremental nudges. Does Kenneth, in Accounts Payable, get his reports done with greater accuracy now that he has fresh fruit to snack on, a more comfortable work environment, and is taking part in some fitness challenges with his team members? Now that Audrey has a “Wellness Room” for twenty minutes of personal time in the afternoon, is she more productive the rest of the day? I realize there are myriad ways one can attempt to quantify this information and volumes have been written debating their relative merits, but at the risk of sounding unscientific, the results pass a basic eye test: are people happy at work or not?
The days when a business leader, small business owner or Fortune 500 board member, can answer that question with a curt “I really don’t care” are long over. Ownership is not leadership; management is not leadership. Leadership requires caring – genuinely caring about the team that comprises the staff of a company. This is not a quality that can be faked. Team building is real, and shaping a work/health balance shows that leadership truly cares.
Chris Buchanan is the Operations Wiseapple for ORCHARD At The OFFICE and can be contacted at 972.295.9091 or at [email protected].
If you’d like to get your work/health balance journey started with fresh fruit delivery, visit https://orchardattheoffice.com.