The end of the calendar year often means setting personal and professional goals for the coming year. Employee health and engagement firm Keas conducted a survey that found several health "land mines" that challenge workers who are trying to eat more healthfully, reduce stress, and get in shape - 2014 goals that 82 percent of respondents share. That's more than want more money, time or sex in next 12 months.
Respondents want companies to help them in their health and wellness goals, citing cash and prize rewards for participating in corporate health programs (55 percent) and access to on-site gyms and fitness classes (38 percent) as key motivators. At the very least, they'd like companies to avoid these four factors that undermine those goals.
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Sitting all day (53 percent): It's well documented that a sedentary lifestyle - including sitting at a desk for hours each day - isn't good for health. Keas CEO Josh Stevens says standing desks can be a good solution, but many companies don't offer them. Another solution is to encourage employees to get up and move, stretch or walk throughout the day. At Keas, Stevens is vocal about this matter and says that attitude has helped the majority of employees to get moving throughout the day, including taking walks and climbing the nine flights of stairs to the company's San Francisco office at least once a day.
Poisonous culture. Office gossip (8 percent) and lack of teamwork and camaraderie (11 percent) were also factors that employees cited when it comes workplace health. Such indicators of poor culture can contribute to stress and anxiety, Stevens says. After all, who wants to go to work with a bunch of jerks? His prescription? Foster more interaction between people.
"When people work in silos and don't interact, it's easy for them to lose sight of what's important in the company - its people. When you get people together at company events and actively create more opportunities for them to interact, they get to know and care about each other," he says.
Free, unhealthy food (11 percent). From fried chicken in the company cafeteria to plates of cookies and brownies ordered in to cater meetings, many offices are filled with food pitfalls. Swap out the unhealthy choices for better ones. Order in lean proteins, salads and fruit instead of pizza and cookies. If you're fortunate enough to have a company cafeteria, make sure you're offering healthful food. Stevens says the way you present the food is important, too. When you put salads and fruit near the front of the line or in a visible place, they're going to be chosen more often than if they're placed as an afterthought to burgers and chips.
Poor leadership (6 percent). Most employees need to feel like their work matters and that they matter to the company. Business owners and managers need to reflect these values in their day-to-day dealings with employees, Stevens says. Develop ways to reward and recognize the behavior you wish to reinforce and set the tone with your own behavior in everything from how you treat other people to how you manage your own health and wellness, he says.