Four Ways To Prioritize Employee Wellness

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By: Jason McCann for Forbes

For being such a mobile society, you’d think we’d be a lot more active. Unfortunately, that’s just not the case. According to research from the World Health Organization, nearly 28% of people don’t meet the physical activity guidelines of 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.

The likeliest culprit, as far as contributing factors go, may be the workplace. After all, the average office employee sits for about 10 hours a day. When someone stays seated for extended periods of time, it can do a real number on the metabolism, increasing the risk of weight gain and obesity. Inactivity can also take a toll on a person’s mental health, which not only decreases productivity but increases the risk of depression. As the CEO of a standing desk company, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of prioritizing movement at work at my company. It’s one of our core missions.

AT&T got the memo back in 2011 when it launched Your Health Matters, an employee wellness program. As part of the initiative, the company regularly challenges staff to engage in healthier activities — from losing weight to smoking cessation. It’s gotten so popular that business units even started their own challenges outside of the wellness program.

Common Desk, the Dallas-based hospitality company, recently purchased a fitness studio so it can offer exercise classes at the co-working spaces the company operates. The move is more about designing workspaces where people can “squeeze in a workout,” but the option does help limit the amount of sedentary time for professionals. People are just more likely to exercise when it’s made accessible.

Whatever the reason you’re considering putting a greater focus on employee health and wellness, it’s a step in the right direction. The first hurdle is typically the highest, so these steps are a good place to start.

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