When you consider the rates of sick leave and injury at work, it’s easy to look at the obvious reasons, like lack of exercise and eating too much of the wrong food, which compromise your immune system.
But what is less obvious is that these are symptoms of something else.
Poor lifestyle choices don’t just happen, they’re habits, created over time. And what is often missed are the causes for these unhealthy lifestyle habits.
Take drinking alcohol for example. Sure most people like a social drink, but when it becomes something that is used to ‘relax’ or ‘cope with a stressful day’, it’s fair to say that the alcohol is the tool that is used to avoid the reason the person is struggling to relax or stress less.
The same goes for food choices. If a person is sleep deprived (or works a lot of night shifts), the messages the brain ends to the body are ruled by the hormones that are out of whack as a result of the lack of sleep. Your brain cannot make good food choices when it is fatigued, and in fact the part of the brain that makes these decisions is compromised to the point where it will tell the body to seek foods high in ‘energy’ such as high fat and sugar foods because it knows that these foods will provide the instant energy it needs at that time. So the issue is not ‘why can’t I make healthier food choices?’, instead, it’s ‘what is going on that is preventing me from getting a decent night sleep?’.
Many wellness programs on the market provide solutions for the symptoms – a workshop on nutrition, one on exercise and, if the provider is on the ball, also one on sleep. However if you’re looking to engage someone to provide wellness education to your staff, it might pay to do three things:
- STEP 1
Ask your staff what they are struggling with when it comes to their health.
This can be done in an anonymous way using something as simple as survey monkey.
Collate these results and see what the common themes are.
- STEP 2
Research programs and providers in the corporate wellness space that offer solutions specific to these results.
It’s no use getting a nutritionist in to speak about healthy eating when your staff are stressed to the hilt and sleep deprived.
No amount of willpower will stop them from heading to the biscuit tin. You’d be better off looking at a solution that provides education and practical strategies on stress reduction and sleep hygiene
- STEP 3
Ask the provider whether they can tailor their programs to suit your organisation.
Different demographics within your workplace will have different needs. If your audience is mainly male, it’s probably not that useful taking about recipes they can make at home.
Likewise, if your audience is all female and over 40 then telling them to go to the gym five days a week will fall on deaf ears.
You want the biggest return on your investment and because of this it’s essential that your staff are engaged and in the right head space for making wellness changes.
The way I encourage that is to start with what I like to call ‘trickle change’ – it’s about setting people up with the best possible chance of achieving the goal by making it small. Momentum builds over time when your staff see these small changes build.
Whether you want to create a strategic wellness strategy as part of your business planning, or show your staff that they are valued (all businesses want to be know as an employer of choice), then a wellness program might be something to consider.
After all, health is the greatest wealth.