The great undo: The Healthy Workplace

The Great Undo is The Healthy Brand Company’s perspective on ‘being healthy’ towards 2020. Aspire: to A Natural Lifestyle and The Healthy Workplace. Action: Everyday steps to your personal Purpose. Appreciate: the journey by choosing when, where and how to be Connected and Disconnected.

Having spent a few months talking about living a natural lifestyle, the healthy workplace is logically the other half of people’s work-life blend aspiration.

What does this mean? Working fewer hours, working from home, working for less in a career you’re passionate about, working for yourself or working for someone else, or simply working in a company that cares about your health & wellbeing? These are all considerations in aspiring to the healthy workplace and achieving work-life blend.

Many studies have indicated that the healthy workplace is more productive as employees are healthier, happier and more engaged. So it makes commercial sense for businesses to invest in the health and wellbeing of their employees and facilitate desired work life blend of employees.

A survey conducted recently amongst HR professionals indicates that 74% will be focussing on employee wellbeing to a moderate or great extent in the coming one to two years – increasing from 49% last year, that’s a 50% increase in one year! Proof that businesses are realising the human need and business opportunity for the healthy workplace. (Source: Research News, P28, Wendy McInnes, employee research director, ORC International’s HR reflections survey).

There are a number of healthy and wellbeing considerations being addressed – mental health, physical activity, nutrition, environment and socialisation.

Mental Health

Last year, I worked on a project with The Folk (www.thefolk.com) to develop the brand identity for The Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance (http://workplacementalhealth.com.au ), ‘a new national approach by business, community and government to encourage Australian workplaces to become mentally healthy’. The initial stage was a call for good practice, seeking real case studies from businesses of all sizes of strategies and activities that had a positive impact on people’s mental health in the workplace – everything from bringing your dog to work day, to comprehensive programmes recognising and managing mental health matters with employees. This will lead into research on ROI of various strategies and activities implemented and then development of resource that are commercially viable and easy to execute for all types of business. In my view, progress in this area can’t happen quickly enough.

Physical Activity

Laurette Stace, CEO of Fitness Australia, recently wrote an article in Network magazine about the healthy workplace: ‘Physical inactivity is the fourth leading cause of death worldwide and the economic cost in Australia is estimated to be $13.8 billion – the majority of which is attributed to lost productivity in the workplace.’ They are advocates for government policy that promotes physical activity in the workplace, which means expanding tax benefits that apply to services provided within the workplace to include fitness and exercise services delivered by any registered gym or exercise professional – making it more accessible to all sizes of business and mobilising the 25,000 plus registered fitness professionals to help the cause.(Source: http://www.fitnessnetwork.com.au/resources-library/healthy-workplace-productive-workforce)

Nutrition

Much publicity has been generated about nutrition in schools. What about nutrition in the workplace? Biscuits by the tea and coffee. Machines vending soft drinks, chips and chocolates. Canteens serving nothing but pizza and muffins. Pastries and sweets served in meetings and workshops. I have experienced all of this and recently. When you manage to get together 10 of your key people into a full day workshop where you expect them to be switched on for 8 hours generating ideas and solving problems, why on earth would you serve them sugar in the first minute, pastries mid morning and mid afternoon and heavy carbohydrate laden lunch in between. The brain and body cannot function on this rubbish for 8 hours.

A study by Nutrition Australia indicated that nutritional knowledge, greater availability of healthy food options and involvement of participants in planning and management of programs in the workplace can help to change people’s food preference habits overall. They offer workplace health and wellbeing services that include nutrition seminars, cooking demonstrations and healthy food cook-offs, one on one dietary assessments and canteen/café assessments. (Source: www.nutritionaustralia.org )

Environment

The work environment isn’t new news, driven mostly from occupational health and safety needs. Ergonomic furniture, plants and lighting are frequently discussed in their benefits to posture, oxygen and eyesight.

Increasingly this is moving into a more holistic view of energy flow, creativity, collaboration and socialisation – with the offices of Google starting the trend of breaking down the barriers of cubicles to foster an innovative and collaborative culture (Source: http://www.google.com.au/about/company/facts/culture/)

Vitamin company, Suisse has refurbished their workplace to reflect their brand on the inside, even installing a Zen-like Japanese garden with an area that produces fruit such as limes and strawberries that are ingredients in their products. (Source: http://www.smh.com.au/business/property/makeover-for-dated-office-20120424-1xj9a.html)

Socialisation

From open plan offices to team-building activities to internal social platforms such as Yammer, socialisation is important for collaboration and ideas, mental health and productivity of teams. And whilst all generations benefit from socialisation, this is the type of environment that attracts the up-and-coming workforce Gen Ys (Source: http://m.smh.com.au/national/gen-y-the-young-and-the-restless ).

Where do companies start?

The Heart Foundation provides 10 steps to implementing a workplace health program (Source: www.thehealthfoundation.org.au):

1. Gain support from management

2. Introduce the concept and identify needs

3. Gain support from employees and establish program responsibilities

4. Develop goals and objectives

5. Identify program activities, develop an action plan and budget

6. Select incentives and rewards

7. Identify additional support

8. Promote your program

9. Manage your program

10. Evaluate your program and make improvements

Officevibe has developed a team-building platform, a clever application that makes it easy and fun for businesses to engage their employees. They’ve looked at how companies like Google, Zappos and Nike motivate their employees and believe that the secret for high employee engagement is having a strong balance of the five facets of company culture: Wellness, Productivity, Social, Environment and Generosity. Officevibe uses gamification to bring these areas to life for employees. (Source: www.officevibe.com )

What does all this have to do with branding?

We believe that what’s going on inside is reflected on the outside and vice versa – as true for people as it is for brands and organisations. The Suisse brand is about ‘Celebrate Life Everyday’ and this drives everything they are, say and do, whether that’s their products, their advertising, their people or their office environment. They align their internal and external brands and integrate all brand experiences to ensure perception and experience is one, for the consumer and the employee.

To me, this defines a healthy brand company. Do you have an example of a healthy brand company?

Written by Rachel Bevans in consultation with Brett Henderson PT.

Rachel is a healthy brand champion and owner of The Healthy Brand Company (ref:https://www.thehealthybrandcompany.com/about-us.html)

Brett is a trained and practising Personal Trainer and Holistic Lifestyle Coach, with a Degree in Physical Education and Management experience. Working from an holistic health & fitness platform, Brett inspires individuals’ goals to gain visible results by combining resistance training and cardiovascular exercise with nutrition and a positive mindset – considering all areas of individuals’ lives. Feel free to share with acknowledgements to The Healthy Brand Company, Brett Henderson PT and supporting references.(c) The Healthy Brand Company, 2014