6 corporate wellness and fitness strategies .

Encouraging healthy habits can help improve workers’ performance, reduce absenteeism and lower health care costs. 

1. Focus your messaging on what wellness will mean to employees.

Getting employees engaged with corporate wellness programs — and keeping them engaged — is still a struggle for many organizations.

The motivational messaging you provide employees can make an enormous difference in engagement. Pressure and shame don’t motivate. The message that “exercise is good medicine” doesn’t work, either.

Instead of telling employees that “exercise is the most important thing you can do for your health,” encourage them to think about what exercising might mean for them. Most people don’t value health per se. When you lose your health, you worry how it affects your ability to meet your goals. Health is really just an intermediary between who you are and what you want to achieve.

We advised HR professionals to focus on the goals employees want to achieve, such as playing football with their kids on weekends, rather than trying to motivate them by pitching improved health as a goal. Wellness isn’t something people strive for; quality family time is.

2. Get the CEO involved in your wellness program.

Get started with a new wellness program that would involve everyone in the organization. Inviting employees to “beat the CEO” in a weekend fitness challenge proved to be a big hit. Stressing the importance of getting top-level, high-profile executives involved in your corporate wellness program.

3. Encourage healthy sleep habits.

Sleep is getting a lot more attention these days. A number of employees in Lagos are particularly sleep-deprived compared to their counterparts in other states. Various factors affecting this can be incessant traffic, etc. 

Lack of sleep can lead to physical health issues, including increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and a depressed immune system; mental health conditions, such as anxiety, mood swings, depression and stress; and daytime performance and safety issues, which include declining work performance, cognitive difficulties and excessive fatigue. 

Encouraging healthy sleep habits can help improve workers’ performance, reduce absenteeism and lower health care costs. Counseling employees to avoid watching TV or reading a laptop or tablet before bedtime; avoid alcohol or exercise before sleep; and not engage in any activity that requires serious concentration before going to bed. Fitness breaks during the day can help, too.

4. Set a tomato timer for 25 minutes, then repeat. 

U.J. Ramdas, co-founder of "Intelligent Change", offered inspiration and tips for making the most of each day.

Among the tips Ramdas offered:

  • Decide on your most important goals in life. These goals should help inform the tasks you set for yourself every day.
  • Every night, before you finish work, jot down 3 to 5 things you need to do the next day. Rank them from highest to lowest priority.
  • Every morning, start with the highest priority task. Give it your undivided attention for 25 minutes. Don’t get distracted by email, texts, or other interruptions during this period. Set a timer to keep you on track — preferably a tomato timer. (This is called the “pomodoro technique,” as pomodoro is Italian for ‘tomato.’)
  • At the end of the 25 minutes, take a short break. Then, hyper-focus on your second most important task for 25 minutes.
  • Whenever possible, schedule meetings for the afternoons, so you can get your most important work done first.

5. The ultimate goal is to help employees ‘bring their best selves to work’

We’re at a point now where many corporate wellness programs have moved beyond prompting employees to get 10,000 steps a day or monitor their sleep. Some incorporate meditation, stress reduction even financial planning.

Going forward, the focus will be on “connecting all the dots” of various health metrics, such as heart rate and sleep, and “understanding how they impact each other” to give employees a more holistic view of their well-being.

 To achieve success and career longevity, it’s always been important to be sharp, vital and fully engaged on the job. But in the future, could ‘bringing your best self to work’ also help protect you against increasing automation in the workplace? 

A lot of people are worried about losing their jobs to technology.  The jobs less likely to be negatively affected by automation are those that involve creative work, planning and strategic decision-making, according to Fortune. So, it stands to reason that if you’re consistently taking good care of yourself — whether you’re in an employer-sponsored wellness program or not — you’re more likely to be fresh, sharp and alert at work. And as a result, you’ll be in a better position to be creative, decisive and strategic. You’ll be the kind of employee, in other words, that robots may have difficulty replacing.