The Benefits Of Moving Around At The Office
If you're sitting while reading this post, you may want to stand up.
The World Health Organization notes that physical activity has been identified as the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality. It's alarming for a nation where a majority of people sit all day, at breakfast, commuting, sitting at work, dinner, and sitting at home to watch some TV at the end of the day.
It's hard to ignore the evidence of the downsides of sitting, yet for many, there is no other option. With the rise of research on the detrimental effects of sitting, there is an increased emphasis on creating a culture of wellness.
If you have any doubt about the level of interest in wellness programs, look up the #TChat from last week: "How Wellness Programs Improve Employee Performance. "
We asked Dr. Eric Soltanoff, cofounder of Voom, for advice on how to create a "wellness-centric" environment. A chiropractor who specializes in soft-tissue sports injuries, Soltanoff has seen the injuries and illnesses caused by prolonged sitting in person.
With 80% of Americans working in jobs that require little or no physical activity, he and his cofounders created Voom to counteract the effects of sedentary work.
Here's what he has to say:
GoodHire: What activities can employees do to easily integrate exercise into daily living?
Soltanoff: Remember that motion is a necessary nutrient, so any activity that involves movement that you can integrate into daily living will be beneficial. Examples of this include getting up from your desk at least once per hour, just to stand, but going and getting some water and/or stretching is even better. We've found that many people are stuck in routines, and need an actual reminder. That's really how Voom was born. With Voom, employees are reminded to move every hour, and then shown a two-minute long video of the most effective, efficient exercises they can do from any workstation.
I would say that any place in your daily routine where you can substitute movement for being sedentary is a great way to live healthier and to integrate exercise into daily living.
These are some little "hacks" you can use:
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
- Parking farther away from your building so you have more walking to do.
- Taking walking or standing meetings rather than sitting in a conference room.
- Doing squats or glute squeezes during phone calls.
GoodHire: How can companies support a culture of fitness with or without on-site facilities?
Soltanoff: We've found that one of the most important elements of creating a healthy culture is a desire to do so from upper management. If C-level executives take part and engage, the wellness program will work.
Fitness isn't something that is dependent on a facility anymore, either, even on-site. You can partner with local gyms or give local trainers the opportunity to come to your office. Technology has opened up a whole new world of workplace wellness, too, by allowing our phones and computers to be personal trainers.
Technology brings fitness to you, not the other way around.
GoodHire: How should companies measure fitness and wellness program effectiveness?
Soltanoff: It depends on who at the company is doing the measuring. Over the years it seems there are two main measures of success for companies:
- ROI. Is this actually saving us on health care costs (and usually that just means keeping them from going up rather than actually making them go down)?
- Engagement. Are people participating? Which people are participating? Are the most at risk employees participating and to what degree?
I propose there is a third, often times overlooked, measurement: The employee's subjective experience of how they feel since using the program.
If employees say they're feeling better, that's a pretty good indicator that you're successfully increasing their productivity and mitigating the risk of long term health care costs.
GoodHire: How does Voom support wellness programs? What types of wellness programs exist?
Soltanoff: Voom is a wellness program that encourages more movement throughout the day. We like to say that we use the same technology that is creating the problem of inactivity, but use it to deliver the solution.
Voom is very unique in that we are both a traditional wellness program designed to decrease your rates of chronic disease (diabetes, heart disease, cancer stroke), and an Injury Prevention Program, which is something you'd typically see in risk management or ergonomics. The trend is moving to combine forces on illness and injury because they often go hand in hand.
Our focus is on creating healthy work habits. We're all about managing the risk brought on by the modern day workplace and doing it in a way that transforms that work style from cost-maker to cost-saver. That said, we do see a common pattern with people once they start Vooming: They start making healthier choices in other areas of their lives, like food choices (eg. fewer sugary drinks, etc).
As for wellness programs, there are many types, like walking challenges or FitBit Challenges. The key is to look into long-term engagement and to try different things for your company. If we had to name a wellness program we personally are excited about we'd say check out WELCOA's "On the Move" initiative. It is well researched, well implemented, and extremely engaging.
There's no one size fits all wellness program, though. Luckily, today you have the ability to offer employees options and allow them to chose something that works for them.
GoodHire: Have you seen improvements in employee performance because of implemented wellness programs?
Simply by moving at least once an hour, most people will see a large increase in their accuracy and productivity. This is especially true in the second half of your shift because, by the afternoon, your eyes, brain, and body are tired due to inactivity. By moving a little more throughout the day, you will get a large return in accuracy and productivity. This is why the Japanese have been doing micro-workouts and stretching before, during, and after their shifts for over 20 years!
We use gamification and incentives with our platform and it really causes employees to not just reap the medical/physical benefits of Voom, but also to reap the mental, emotional, and social rewards of becoming more engaged with their coworkers and employer. When we work with smaller companies who aren't yet doing anything for wellness, the managers are always amazed at the change in culture once the program has launched.
There's no doubt that wellness programs change the physical body in ways that allow for more employee productivity, but they also do so much for morale "“ and engaged employees perform better. Today almost all of the most successful companies across this country make a priority of total wellness for employees "“ that's physical, emotional, spiritual, and financial wellness "“ and that's because a healthy worker is a productive worker.
Let us know what you're doing for corporate wellness @goodhiretweets #BuildGreatTeams