New Fitbit data shows the importance of employee wellness to CEOs. Here's how you can create a healthy work environment, no in-office meditation room necessary
Kitchens stocked with kale and in-office fitness studios seem to be spreading like wildfire in the corporate world. And we're not complaining. No commute to the gym at lunch, or not having to spend our whole lunch hour trekking to the closest Whole Foods? Yes, please! (These are The Healthiest Companies to Work For.)
According to new data from Fitbit, employee wellness programs are on track to become less of a perk and more table stakes for major companies. The data-hungry minds behind the fitness tracker company surveyed over 200 CEOs in the U.S. to learn about their attitudes towards employee wellness programs and upping their active office cultures. The results were overwhelmingly in favor of actively incentivizing health goals. Over three-quarters of the CEOs surveyed had already hosted a company-wide activity challenge and 95 percent planned on doing one this year.
Even more importantly, a full 80 percent saw corporate wellness programs as key to reducing stress levels at the office—more so than happy hours—and almost all of the big dogs (94 percent) agreed that offering cool wellness incentives was necessary for attracting top talent to the company. Not hard to see, given that we all have at least one jealousy-inducing friend whose start-up has an in-house yoga studio/nap room/test kitchen/farmers market. (Find out Why Sweatworking Is the New Networking.)
But what about those of us stuck to contend with 12-hour days of desk drudgery and junk food-filled vending machines? Even if workplace wellness isn't built into your company culture, all is not lost. "Your coworkers may not always make the best choices, but it's time for you to step up and be the leader," says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet. Take charge, and lead your own office wellness initiative.
1. Identify Your Temptations
Raise your hand if you've ever fallen pray to the cookie platter left over from a client meeting (it's okay, we have both hands up). Or maybe your biggest weakness is reaching in the reception desk candy bowl for a mid-afternoon snack. "You need to identify where those weak spots are and then be prepared," says Gans. If you know you'll be jonesing for a post-lunch treat, stock your desk with a healthy options like sweet and salty KIND bars or some individually wrapped dark chocolates. (Try these 5 Office-Friendly Snacks That Banish the Afternoon Slump.) Gans recommends making sure each snack has a good balance of fiber and protein so it will actually satiate you. Think: a little cheese with apple slices.
2. Stay Hydrated
Set reminders on your calendar to drink up during the day. "Have water by your desk at all times," says Gans. "The last thing you want is to confuse hunger with thirst." Studies have shown that your body sometimes cues hunger when it's actually dehydrated; drinking water can help you feel more full, naturally curbing your appetite so you eat less. (That's why drinking water before eating is also one of the easiest ways to lose weight.)
3. Bring Lunch
It's easy to succumb to the sodium-heavy takeout options from the joint around the corner, and studies show that eating out is worse for your waistline than if you prep your own meals (you're more likely to make healthier choices and eat smaller portions). Rather than going out, start a lunch club with your coworkers—have everyone sign up to bring a different healthy dish so you don't have to do all the at-home work.
4. Move More
Noam Tamir, trainer and owner of TS Fitness in New York, recommends taking breaks every 30 minutes to an hour to walk around. If you don't have time for a full lap around the block, go say hi to a coworker on the other side of the office. Stuck on a conference call? Get out of your chair and balance on one foot for thirty seconds before alternating, or do some cross touches (stand and bend to touch your right hand to your left knee or foot and switch).
5. Start a Challenge
If you're ready to up the ante, start a Biggest Loser-style challenge with your office mates. Who says the CEO has to be the one to get the wellness ball rolling?