10 Small Changes for a Healthier Office

It's hard enough keeping ourselves healthy, much less everyone around us. But when it comes to the workplace, healthy employees can mean the difference between sluggish sales and bustling business. The good news is that worker wellbeing doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag or a crew of corporate wellness consultants. A few small tweaks can be all you need to keep employees at your office... instead of the doctor's office. Here are 10 small changes you can make for a healthier office:

  1. Add some sparkle
    Some progressive offices have started offering an assortment of the latest healthy, tasty beverages to employees in an effort to reduce soda consumption, thereby promoting employee wellness. But if your office doesn’t have the budget to put kombucha on tap, don’t fear! Instead, keep the office stocked with fresh fruit: apples, strawberries, pineapples, watermelons, and more can be chopped into chunks and mixed with sparkling water for a delightfully fruity drink that keeps that sweet tooth satisfied.
  2. Take a stand
    Let’s face it—not every start-up has the funds to put all of their employees behind a $300 standing desk. But you don’t have to break the bank to take advantage of this popular health trend. Save some major cash by creating standing desk areas throughout the office. One high-top table can serve as a standing desk for 4-5 employees, plus this style can benefit company culture by encouraging inter-department socializing.
  3. FroYo, because YOLO
    Celebrating something? Scrap that same plain ol' vanilla cake with high-fat buttercream icing. Instead, set up a frozen yogurt bar with an assortment of healthy toppings (think fresh berries, chopped nuts, chia seeds, and dark chocolate shavings). You'll be surprised by just how many people show up to sing the birthday song.
  4. Bottle it up
    Team sweatshirts can be a fun treat for your employees, but - especially with custom logos - they can really add up! For less than $2 a pop, custom water bottles are a less costly alternative—plus, they encourage your employees to stay hydrated throughout the day. (Pair this with Tip #1 and you’re really talking!)
  5. Step on it
    If your company office is in a high-rise, you’re probably no stranger to the daily commute up the elevator. Start an office campaign to promote taking the stairs instead. Offer incentives for employees with the longest streak of consecutive days doing the climb. A Fitbit or similar fitness tracker would make an excellent first place prize! No stairs? Deem the farthest parking spots eligible in the next great park-and-stride challenge.
  6. Bounce back from a snack attack
    In this day and age, many employees have come to expect their offices to provide snacks. While junk food classics might seem like the obvious choice, experiment with offering a mix, including some healthy alternatives. Think a basket of fruit for morning munchies, dark chocolate squares for post-lunch pecking, and crunchy Cruncha ma-me for 3pm grazing.
  7. Cross-fit collaboration
    Looking to boost the sense of community around your office? Try organizing a lunchtime or after-work exercise class. Bring in a circuit trainer or yoga instructor to lead the group. If the budget is too tight to make it company sponsored, send out an email to gauge interest for a tentative head count—then divide the instructor's fee among participants. Many employees will be happy to pay $10-15 for the convenience of having an exercise session brought right to their office.
  8. Benefit the fit
    There’s no denying the link between exercise and wellness—people who regularly keep their bodies moving can significantly reduce their risk of a whole host of chronic diseases. Less illness can mean fewer missed workdays and higher productivity. Talk to your current health insurance company about gym membership reimbursement offerings for employees. If they don’t offer this benefit, consider shopping around for a health insurance provider who does!
  9. Bet on better eating
    Maybe you care about healthy eating, but your co-workers... not so much. Instead of force-feeding salads to anyone within reach, motivate your office to eat healthy by subsidizing a healthy lunch program. If you are already subsidizing meals, consider upping the ante for nutritious selections.
  10. Assess with the best
    Sometimes, we want to make a healthy change in our lives, but it’s hard to get started. Just thinking about it can be overwhelming and we don’t know where to begin! Consider bringing in a dietitian to do individual wellness assessments with employees. Registered Dietitians have studied the science of nutrition and are trained in developing personalized plans. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics can help you locate a qualified professional. If individual consultations are too costly or time consuming for your company, many dietitians offer corporate wellness seminars that can be given during lunch!
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Shira Katz, M.S., R.D. is the former EAT Club Staff Dietitian.
You can follow her on Twitter @sunnysidehealth