When many people think of workplace well-being efforts, likely the first area to come to mind is physical well-being.
While physical well-being is one of the five widely recognized elements of well-being, often times workplaces don’t take a big enough “snapshot” of what it might look like, and then, well-intentioned efforts may fall short. When it comes to physical well-being, many traditional workplace efforts tend to focus on the so-called “rules and numbers” of physical health. You know the standard gig: Employees fill out health-risk appraisals (HRAs) and/or participate in other biometric screenings such as cholesterol and blood sugar testing and/or blood pressure readings. The results are then used to direct individuals to reduce this risk or decrease that number, leaving many employees’ heads spinning with more questions than answers. Not much fun, and certainly not the way to encourage and motivate folks to participate in their own health journey.
Physical well-being efforts and support need to focus on giving employees the tools to enhance and maintain health and energy… so they can actually and realistically engage in daily life activities, and live their lives in a full, meaningful-to-them way.
There are lots of ways that workplaces can help employees up their health and energy levels — and therefore improve their overall quality of life — but, two really important areas that may be a great place to start are physical movement and adequate rest/sleep.
According to “Wellbeing: The Five Essential Elements”:
- Among 400,000 Americans surveyed, only 27% get the recommended 30 minutes or more of exercise five days per week.
- People who exercise at least two days a week are happier and have significantly less stress.
- People are getting less sleep than they did previously. The average is 6.7 hours during a weeknight — short of the recommended 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Less-than-adequate sleep means people move slower, have trouble concentrating, become forgetful, make bad decisions, are more irritable, and show visible signs of sleeplessness.
What might a workplace focus on exercise and sleep look like? Some initial thoughts include:
- Providing employees with sound information on the topics, presented in fun, interesting and entertaining ways. Think powerful stats and factoids, eye-catching images, and attention-grabbing short videos that are easy to put together these days with smartphone cameras and inexpensive video editing software.
- Hosting events and programs that introduce employees to various types of physical activity that make it easy for them to make physical activity part of their daily routine.
- Being aware of employee workloads and keeping those workloads within manageable parameters so employees aren’t working all hours of the day and night and/or losing sleep due to stress.
These are just a few ways to help employees realize physical well-being. And note: none of them involve filling out an assessment or being poked or prodded. Make physical well-being as easy, as accessible and as fun as possible. Employees are more likely to participate and more likely to improve their overall well-being.
Check back next week when we continue our look at the various elements of well-being. Next up: community well-being.