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Due to the high levels of inactivity and increased stress that are common within the workplace, ‘sitting disease’ has spread through workplaces across the globe. In fact, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has labelled physical inactivity as the fourth leading risk in global mortality.
Despite this alarming statistic, workplaces have the potential to create positive change and lead the way in creating an environment that values and supports employees’ health and wellbeing.
High and prolonged levels of sedentary behaviour has been associated with various physical and mental conditions including, but not limited to, obesity, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and depression.
As well as the conditions mentioned above, many physical ailments that employees can experience through prolonged sitting include tension in the neck and lower back, fatigue and poor circulation.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2017/18, 26.8 million days were lost due to work-related ill health with stress, depression, anxiety and musculoskeletal disorders accounting for the majority of days lost due to work-related ill health. With this in mind, spending money on resources to improve employee health and wellbeing in the workplace in the short term, can actually benefit your organisation in the long-term as well.
It is common knowledge that prevention is the best strategy with regards to workplace health and wellbeing. Introducing a traditional gym membership scheme may not be enough in this instance, as this will only cater for those who are knowledgeable and focussed on what they need to do to stay fit and healthy. Additionally, this approach will not necessarily appeal to those who are short on time, and thus can’t attend gym sessions.
Educating your employees is the best way forward, as it is the most effective method in encouraging both you as an employer and your employees to adapt or alter their current behaviours. Whilst it may not be practical to implement more breaks into the working day, ensuring that your employees are actually taking breaks away from their desks is a simple strategy that can make all the difference.
Mild exercise such as short walks can be extremely beneficial, not only to their health, but to stimulate their minds and prevent fatigue from setting in.
Another option would be to implement exercise into the weekly workplace routine. This could include running exercise classes during lunch or building in an invigorating approach to morning meetings, for example conducting walking meetings. Not only will this encourage team members to get more physical activity into their daily routine, but a change in scenery can help employees to get a different source of inspiration that will help yield new ideas, and new solutions to problems.
To help improve your wellbeing strategy, you should obtain suggestions and feedback from your employees. What would they like to see implemented in the workplace? How could you improve the health and happiness of your employees? These are questions which will help determine what course of action may be beneficial for your organisation and its employees moving forward. It also demonstrates that you care about your employees, taking into account how they feel at work and valuing their ideas and opinions.
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