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10 Rules: Improve health and wellbeing in your workplace

Workplaces with a culture of health and wellbeing are more than a happy place to work. 

Decades of research has proven that a healthier workforce is more productive versus a company that does not promote this environment.  In today’s competitive global marketplace, a healthy culture has never been such a relevant strategy.  No matter where you are within your health and wellbeing program, remember when it comes to good health, there is no big secret.  Here are 10 top tips from the Healthy Performance team which you can implement today to improve the health and wellbeing of your employees:

1. Diet

Many of us think of our health in terms of weight. Whilst a healthy lifestyle can certainly help you in managing your weight, the benefits extend well beyond appearance.  It can also promote overall health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and even some types of cancer.  Information from Public Health England published in August 2018 showed that 61% of adults in the UK were classified as overweight or obese in 2016/17.

More people are dying in Britain due to being overweight or obese than anywhere else in Europe. Around one in every 11 deaths in the UK is now linked to carrying excess fat.  You can educate your employees by promoting checking weight regularly in the workplace and by providing suggestions on how to lose weight and the benefits of losing weight. The NHS provides useful information regarding how to do this with 12 tips to help you lose weight on the 12-week plan.

At Healthy Performance, the on-site health checks we provide will tell your employees if they’re a healthy weight, what their body fat percentage is and whether they’re at risk of serious health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. If they need to bring their weight down, our healthcare assessors will give your staff actionable advice that they can implement immediately.

2. Promote drinking less

Many employees are unaware that regularly drinking more alcohol than the recommended guidelines can lead to a wide range of long-term health problems, including cancers, strokes, and heart attacks. For example, men who regularly drink more than three to four units a day are three times more likely to have a stroke. Employees can calculate their drinking levels by using the Drink Aware Unit and Calorie Counter, plus they can find out where to get help.  Promoting back to back alcohol-free days has been well advertised in the press and is a powerful message which you communicate internally in your workplace. Drinkaware’s Drink Free Days campaign will provide you with more information about this. To educate employees in the benefits of drinking less, we run a popular Beer Google workshop, which is an informative and interactive way of replicating the effects of drinking too much. We often hold this workshop in combination with other workshops such as alcohol awareness and health and wellbeing taster sessions, and hold it during company health and wellbeing weeks, during the launch of a new health and wellbeing program or around key calendar dates such as Alcohol Awareness Week.

3. Exercise regularly

This is a miracle cure we’ve all been waiting for.  It will reduce your employees’ risk of major illnesses by up to 50% and lower their risk of early death by up to 30%.  What’s more, it’s is free, easy to take, has an immediate effect and you don’t need a GP to get some. The name? Exercise The benefits of exercise aren’t limited to weight loss. Even if you’re slim, you’ll still get health benefits from exercising.  Research shows that physical activity can also boost self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy, as well as reducing your risk of stress, depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. To encourage your employees to exercise, think about introducing monthly challenges to the workplace, taking the stairs for a month, holding yoga taster sessions, and if you have a cycle to work scheme, consider promoting that again. The Healthy Performance team run workshops for all levels, as we cannot all be marathon runners. However, if you are, we run workshops for that level too. If you are not sure where to benchmark your levels, we often start by introducing our online lifestyle assessment tool, MyWellbeingCheck.  Not only does it provide a personal dashboard for your employees, but it also produces a company-wide report which highlights hotspots. This makes it perfect for you to tackle health and wellbeing not only proactively but in an efficient and cost-effective way.

4. Eat five a day

Fruit and vegetables are part of a balanced diet and can help your employees to stay healthy. The five a day message highlights the health benefits of getting five 80g portions of fruit and vegetables every day.  Fruit and vegetables are also usually low in fat and calories (provided they aren’t fried or roasted in lots of oil). That’s why eating them can help you to maintain a healthy weight and keep your heart healthy. Our Healthy Performance nutrition and diet workshop covers topics such as energy levels, food labelling, weight management, eat to perform and much more. Throughout the sessions, we use interactive methods to engage employees and take the approach of ‘balance’ and eating in moderation.

5. Eat less salt and fat

Sticking with the diet theme, extensive research has proven that excessive salt and fat in our diets is a major cause of chronic illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Our bodies need a little bit of salt to survive but our findings show that the amount the majority of employees eat is far more than they require. Too much salt in your food can cause high blood pressure cause you to develop heart disease or have a stroke.

Nearly two-thirds of employees in the UK have too much saturated fat in their diets, putting them at an increased risk of heart disease and stroke. Get tips on cutting your salt levels at Action on Salt. Whilst Change 4 Life has some great advice on cutting back on fat.

6. Quit smoking An obvious one if some of your employees are smokers, however, there are hundreds of benefits to encouraging them to quit. Many of the health benefits of quitting smoking are immediate.

  • After 20 minutes, blood pressure and resting heart rate return to normal

  • Within 24 hours, lungs start to clear. After three days, breathing becomes easier and energy levels increase

  • In one year, the risk of a heart attack drops sharply after quitting

  • During two to five years, the chance of a stroke could fall to about the same as that of a non-smoker

  • And within five years of quitting, the chance of cancer of the mouth, throat, oesophagus, and bladder is cut in half.

For help with quitting, encourage your employees to visit their GP or local pharmacy and it may be that they qualify for free nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and inhalers. Try sharing internal smoke-free success stories to motivate employees.

7. Check that lump

The devastating fact is that one in three people in England will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in their life. Cancer can occur at any age. Detecting most cancers early means that treatment is more likely to be successful. Sometimes noticing a small change, like a lump, changes to a mole, or unexplained weight loss, can make a big difference to your health. Try linking with charity awareness days/weeks/months for internal company campaigns.  For tips on spotting the early signs of cancer, visit the Cancer Researchwebsite.

8. Are your employees sleeping enough?

Sleep deprivation can hurt your workforce and cause employees to zone out during important meetings and produce work of lower quality.  Nearly every employee has problems sleeping at some point in their life. It’s thought that a third of people in the UK have bouts of insomnia. Most healthy adults sleep for an average of seven to nine hours a night. If people do not get enough sleep, it can affect relationships, performance at work, and it can delay recovery from illness. Good sleep starts with a good bedtime ritual and some simple lifestyle changes. Healthy Performance has conducted several employer projects examining employee health, lifestyle and sleep patterns. Employee sleep patterns are analysed and then employees were measured on the impact of sleeping patterns from team challenges and planned activities.  Here are our top 10 tips to a good night’s sleep. Here is our video on alcohol and sleep.

9. Stress levels

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in 2017/18, 595,000 employees in the UK reported work-related stress at a level they believed was making them ill.  Some pressure at work can be motivating, but when it becomes excessive it can eventually lead to work-related stress. Stress symptoms include a pounding heart or palpitations, a dry mouth, headaches, odd aches and pains and loss of appetite for food and sex. We recently held a webinar on stress that is still available to watch. Watch our stress webinar (it is approximately 40 minutes long).

“Address mental health and wellbeing in the workplace with confidence”

Healthy Performance has created stress and resilience programmes for global brands and many SMEs. Our programmes help employees to understand stress and pressure and look at trigger points, relaxation, recognising signs and how to deal with stress.  We also look at building a resilience strategy and coping mechanisms.

10.  Workplace mental wellbeing

Your employees’ mental health is important. It can be affected by stress but not always, mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety are common. It is a legal obligation for an employer to offer employees support with mental health.  During our recent webinar, we discovered that only 50% of our attending businesses had a mental health program in place, and the remaining 50% were looking to re-launch their workplace programs.  If you are in this situation, our Pascal workplace mental health solution might be worth hearing more about.  Pascal helps your employees understand their own situation with the support of a large library of self-help information and signposting to external sources and your personalised company internal support.  Not only that, but Pascal generates a company-wide report to illustrate where your business hotspots are. Learn more about Pascal.

Scientific evidence points to five steps that we can take to improve our mental wellbeing. If you give them a try, you may feel happier, more positive and able to get the most from your life.  Encourage your employees to approach them with an open mind and try them out: Connect – connect with the people around you: your family, friends, colleagues and neighbours

Be active  – find the activity that you enjoy and make it a part of your life Keep learning – learning new skills can give you a sense of achievement and new confidence Give to others – even the smallest act can count, whether it’s a smile, a thank you or a kind word Be mindful – be more aware of the present moment, including your feelings and thoughts, your body and the world around you

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