Building a gym at your workplace can be a great perk for your wellness program. Unfortunately, putting in a gym can require a lot of logistical nightmares. It can also get to be a bit expensive.
The truth is--while a gym is great--there are other, better wellness activities in which you can invest your time and resources. Some of these alternatives are not only easier to implement, but can help your employees be healthier in the long run.
If you're wary of converting your conference room into a weight room, check out these eight alternatives that might be a better use of your time.
A Good Water Cooler
A dehydrated employee will never be a healthy employee. Odds are they won't be a happy employee either. Hydration is the original cornerstone to a healthy lifestyle. We literally can't live without water.
You can encourage your employees to stay hydrated by providing easily accessible, enjoyable sources of water. This means making sure you have enough water to keep the cooler running. It means investing in a cooler that provides water of multiple temperatures. It might even mean splurging on an ice machine or company water bottles.
Research has shown that no amount of exercise can undo the damage done by a sedentary lifestyle. It's not necessary to force your employees to stand, but it is nice to offer them the choice of a standing desk. If it gets too complicated to be swapping desks in and out, consider doing a complete overhaul and purchasing desks that can accommodate both standing and sitting.
While it is a larger investment up front, providing standing desks for your employees is one of the very best wellness activities you can offer. Tackling sitting disease--and therefore things like metabolic syndrome--will always be worth it.
Physical activity and proper nutrition go hand-in-hand. Even if you build a state of the art worksite gym, the desk drawer full of Twinkies will minimize its effects.
The best way to encourage healthy snacking at the office is to provide free healthy snacks to your employees. Even if it's not necessarily their preference of food choice, many employees will choose the complimentary snacks over purchasing their own any day. You can provide healthy options via a vending machine, breakroom snack baskets, or even a stocked kitchen if you have the resources!
On a similar note, you can encourage healthy eating both at work and at home by starting a community garden. Planning a worksite community garden is an excellent wellness activity because it extends beyond the workplace. This type of garden is a great opportunity to send your employees home with delicious, fresh produce. Your garden goodies can be the best spring board for a healthy grocery list at home.
Stress is one mental health issue that directly affects an individual's physical health too. Consistent high levels of stress can take a toll on a person's patience, relationships, sleep and even things like blood pressure, weight and cholesterol.
Some level of stress is expected in any workplace. You can minimize the stress employees feel, however, by fostering positive relationships at work, using clear and positive messaging, providing outlets for stress (like quiet rooms or flexible hours), or creating an aesthetically pleasing office environment.
One way to promote physical activity without actually building a gym in the office is to partner up with local companies. With these partnerships, you could offer reduced rates for gym memberships, run or walk sign-ups, or personal training.
This type of outsourcing for your physical activity promotion is a great option because it takes the pressure outside the four walls of your building. That means employees won't feel guilty about using or not using the gym. It also means they'll probably be more intrinsically motivated to actually use the gym. This sets employees up for long-term success in wellness.
There are entire bodies of knowledge dedicated to uncovering what motivates people to move more. Some of this knowledge has influenced the design of office spaces, which can be another way to tackle a sedentary lifestyle. If you can design an office space that begs movement, your employees will get the physical activity their bodies need throughout the workday.
There is nothing more valuable in wellness than being properly educated. All of the tangible resources in the world mean nothing if employees don't know how or why to utilize them. Investing in educating your employees on health and wellness is one of the best uses of your time and resources.
This can be done in a few different ways. You can host events like biometric screenings that incorporate a health education session. You can also have an online portal set up to house a library of health information your employees can access when they need. You can even bring in professionals to host panels or "lunch and learns" about various health and wellness topics. All are great options to ensure that your employees have the knowledge they need to make healthy changes in their lives.
Just to be clear, a worksite gym is not a bad wellness option in any way! In fact, we have one here at TotalWellness. Your wellness program--and each of your wellness activities--need to rely on and mirror your corporate culture.
If a worksite gym isn't in the cards where you work, consider what other wellness activities might be just as effective. Do some research on each of these eight options, and see which ones fit with the culture of wellness at your workplace.