A "Call In" to Corporate Employers and Managers

The corporate office workplace: Is yours a supportive, health-promoting environment?

A "Call In" to Corporate Employers and Managers

“Call in”: to enlist someone’s aid or services

“Call out”: draw critical attention to someone's unacceptable actions or behavior
[source: Oxford English Dictionary]

This piece is a friendly “call in” to the corporate-oriented employers and managers out there. [and if you are an employee of a corporation, I’d love for you to still read this piece!]

While it may sound semi-plush to have a desk job, the approximate 8-12 hours per day + 4-6 days per week of “desk jockeying” isn’t always a health-promoting environment.

From my outsider eyes and ears (although I did work in the corporate world for 8 years), there are many options for managers and C-suiters to make change in the workplace that supports their teams positively and provides a culture for a better level of self-care.

I realize it’s not a snap of the finger change, nor one that is necessarily cost-free at the outset. But if you invest the time to observe and learn from your teams and be a leader in health-promoting behaviors and environments, you will most likely notice the Wins in the team vibe, work output, and even potentially in a reduction in health insurance costs and reduced number of sick days.

A few ideas and thoughts to share:

  1. Figure out ways to encourage and support frequent desk breaks and movement throughout the day. In fact, consider a desk break as an integral part of the work day. It’s analogous to taking a recovery day from exercise. Even though we don’t feel like we’re doing anything, the body and mind refresh and rejuvenate when we take a break. And when we return to training (or the desk), we are rarin’ to go.

    It doesn’t take more than about 6.5 seconds when talking with a physical therapist to learn that sitting at a desk for hours on end is no bueno for our body parts. And it doesn’t take much longer than 8.7 seconds to find out from any health practitioner that excess sitting (and staring at screens) doesn’t help cognition, focus, and attention. So, overall productivity really isn’t optimal and health insurance costs rise due to inflexible, immobile, and weak bodies.

    Brains and bodies get fried, so let’s get them moving and stretching more. Standing desks, fitness watches, “movement minutes”, walking meetings… there are lots of ways to get people to take a break and to provide support in doing so.

  2. No one should have to eat at their desk or feel guilty to step away to nourish their body and brain. Provide a variety of break areas for eating (indoor and outdoor, especially for those who aren’t into co-mingling). Additionally, note that some people eat at different hours of the day so consider removing the rule that people need to eat lunch exactly at high noon.

  3. Catered meals, free snacks, and the special occasion celebrations…I’m betting you anticipate me saying something like “Whatttttt? You support Donut Friday?” Nah, I’m not going to pick on that, but it would be neato if you surveyed your staff to learn their input and dietary preferences.

    You can also have a Registered Dietitian work with your Human Resources Department to figure out improvements in food availability and offerings within your budget. Your workplace doesn’t need to be donut-free or a “celery sticks only zone”, but I’m betting there are some compromises that actually better support the team as a whole and on an individual level.

  4. How about incentives? Honestly, the company Weight Loss Challenges need to be gone forever. Instead, you can better serve your teams by providing sustainable wellness frameworks without gimmicks and short-term (dumb) contests.

    Think about covering gym memberships, arranging reduced fees on meditation apps, allocating office space for a “stretch zone”, providing paid time off to see a doctor or other medical professional, lunch and learns, access to a Dietitian and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach, and offering flexible work hours.

    There really are lots of ideas and yes, some of these cost you some coin up front. But remember, the more you invest in your employees’ health, the more likely they are to thrive (personally and professionally) and contribute to the company’s success.

  5. Managers and C-Suiters: Be a role model. I’m guessing I don’t need to explain this and you know what I mean. Inspire change while inviting the sharing of ideas from your staff. There’s not one way to do Wellness. Step out of the box and step forward.

Thanks for reading… and let me know what you’re doing at your company, what you’d like to see, or even how I can help.

-Dina