While entrepreneurs may be disproportionately under represented among competitive runners and tri-athletes, they should also consider helping their employees work fitness into their work weeks. The possible benefits are legion; less absenteeism, higher productivity, a positive impact on team building and lower health insurance premiums.
In fact, a recent study from the American Journal of Health Promotion says that wellness programs result in a 27 percent reduction in sick time and a 26 percent reduction in healthcare costs. Further, the healthiest employees are thought to be three times as productive as the least healthy, according to a recent Australian study. All for a return on investment that has been estimated at as much as $5 for every $1 invested.
The following are 10 ways small business employees (and owners) can sneak fitness into the work week whether they like the zen of solo exercise; the motivation of a group weight loss program or the competition of company-against-company sports.
- Offer extended lunch hours once or twice a week for employees who may be training for anything ranging from a 5K race to a marathon
- Encourage standing breaks as often as every 15 minutes in order to improve circulation and lower heart-related risks
- Blast through calories while brainstorming on the move with a walking meeting
- Respectfully promote weight loss, as well as perseverance, through a companywide “Biggest Loser” competition
- Reap the benefits of a staff with increased confidence and stick-to-itiveness by putting them through a weeklong fitness boot camp
- Foster teamwork through corporate sports leagues against other companies in the same industry or office park
- Light a fire under the sedentary by creating an incentive program to get at least 10,000 steps a day, monitored by a pedometer
- Lower office stress by teaching employees to meditate throughout the day, while standing at the copying machine; riding in the elevator; or taking a taxi to a business meeting
- Allow employees to close their office doors to indulge in stretching sessions, including neck rolls, torso twists, toe touches and deep breaths
- Promote adherence to exercise routines during business travel by investing in innovative equipment, including travel yoga mats; hollow dumbbells that can be filled with water and collapsible hula hoops
To implement office-wide wellness initiatives, you may have to earmark extra dollars for organized fitness programs and allow some flexibility with work hours. However, helping your increasingly busy employees get and stay fit can reap benefits in the long run.