While my cubicle dwelling days are a distant memory, before I became a nutritionist I spent the first six years of my career working a high-paced corporate job. Throughout that time, I often drew a line between health and work. Work was where work was a priority, and home was where health was a priority. As I learned—the hard way!—this is not a sustainable model. Failing to merge the two can result in burnout, fatigue and a general dislike of your day-to-day job.
The average person spends 50% of their waking hours at work from Monday to Friday, so to live your best life wellness has to merge into your workday.
If you are someone who wants to lead, inspire and champion wellness in your space, here are seven tips that I recommend from my experience running corporate wellness programs for Canada’s top companies, including Google, Facebook and Unilever.
- Take Ownership Over Catered Meals
A great work perk is having catered lunches for meetings or as a treat; however, the typical menu often includes sandwiches, pizza or other heavy options that can result in the low energy for the rest of the day. Instead, take responsibility over what is ordered, and research better-for-you takeout options that are more vegetable and protein-centric for your entire team.
- Coordinate Good Snacks
Nobody wakes up telling themselves they are going to eat three cookies in the afternoon. Rather, we reach for these types of foods when there are no other options around and we feel hungry. As a workplace wellness champion, make sure there are healthy snacks available. If you work in a metropolitan area, there are often snack delivery companies that will deliver healthy options; otherwise I always have on hand apples and single-serving packages of nuts.
- Offer Monthly Lunch & Learns
Another way to champion wellness is to educate people on ways to take control of their health. Lunch & Learns are a perfect option for this. You can offer more than just the traditional wellness topics of nutrition and fitness, by including areas like parenting and financial wellness. Popular topics to look for include Eating For Energy and Stress Busting Strategies. Talk with your coworkers to see who may have expertise in different areas of health, or who may know an expert that would be interested in presenting.
- Run Office Wellness Challenges
Challenges often bring out a competitive side in people, and they can be an excellent way to motivate and inspire your peers. You could facilitate something as simple as a 30-day meditation challenge, or weekly squat or plank challenges, or bring in an external company to run a challenge covering nutrition, fitness and mental health all-in-one.
- Organize Group Exercise
Two of the main barriers to exercise are making time and actually going. When you bring the exercise to the office it helps remove those barriers. One of the simplest ways to do this is with a walking or running group. I know for me, there’s nothing like running with a friend to actually get me out the door. Your group can organize lunch time walks, or bring a certified fitness professional in to teach lunchtime or after work workout classes.
- Schedule Time For Fun
Remembering to have fun is an often overlooked piece of wellness. Did you know that downtime actually increases productivity?1 An afternoon outside of the office, every once in a while, is not only a reward, but can also build team camaraderie. A team event that I thought was particularly fun and different was curling, but bowling or an afternoon volunteering are great options too.
- Lead By Example
Last, but certainly not least, in my experience one of the best ways to motivate others and be a leader in wellness is to walk the talk. When others around you notice that you are energetic, fit and happy, it’s contagious and they want to experience the same thing. You will notice you’re asked about that healthy lunch you’ve brought that has you coasting through the afternoon without the 3PM slump, or what exercise routine you’re doing that you love so much.
Deep down, we all want to feel well in and out of the office, so by using these tips to empower others, you are well on your way to being a wellness champion.
- Coleman, Jackie and John. (2012). The Upside of Downtime. Harvard Business Review. Accessed 03.14.16. https://hbr.org/2012/12/the-upside-of-downtime
Mandy King is a Holistic Nutritionist with a corporate background and the founder of HEAL – Healthy Eating And Living. She works with major Canadian companies, including PwC, Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and The City of Vancouver, who place significant value on the health & wellness of their teams. Mandy provides turnkey, engaging solutions available both online and in person, that result in more energy, less absenteeism, and ultimately, teams that are happier to come to work each day. To learn more about her Corporate programs, click here.