Office work was once limited to nine-to-fives and bureaucratic hierarchies. This method causes burnout, and the phenomena of the Great Resignation emphasized the need for organizational change.
Forbes highlights how there is now a growing significance placed on health programs among employers and employees. Employee well-being has become a non-negotiable for growth and this means that HR is continuously looking for more strategies to boost care within the workplace. Reactive measures like insurance and benefits to address diabetes or obesity are a given, but how about proactive measures?
This is where an office weight loss challenge would step in. The idea may seem novel to many, but it's actually been a common — and successful — practice among employers to create healthy competition and camaraderie. Sounds intriguing? Keep reading for a closer look.
Boosting mental health and morale
Many employees struggle to find a work-life balance. This affects their ability to consume healthy meals as well as find time to exercise, and as we’ve previously discussed in Creating a Mentally Healthy Organization, this can eventually result in low productivity and employee burnout.
When employers incentivize healthy weight loss within the workplace, a mental burden is lifted from employees. This allows them to prioritize their own physical and mental health, and also shows them that their well-being is a priority at work. Believing that their employers care is a critical source of morale, and will motivate employees to perform better at work as well.
Counteracting effects of a sedentary lifestyle
Office workers typically spend up to 15 hours per day sitting, and this sedentary lifestyle can cause devastatingly long and short-term health effects on the body. This includes increased all-cause mortality and risk for cardiovascular diseases, among many others.
By encouraging physical activity in the workplace, employees can improve their cardiorespiratory fitness. It helps boosts their immune systems while also safeguarding them against mental health issues like depression and anxiety through the increase of serotonin.
The friendly competition of a weight loss challenge is also a great way to promote inclusivity and break down bureaucratic walls in the workplace. Your interactions with your boss and fellow co-workers are no longer limited to the next report or marketing launch. This means that employees are seen beyond their work capacity but instead, as real human beings.
This reduces intimidation and cutthroat culture, which is a primary reason why many employees choose to leave their workplaces.
Setting up is easy
Thankfully, employers today no longer have to stress about the logistics of setting up an office weight loss challenge. That is because many applications and companies already offer fitness programs that are fit for the corporate setup.
These readily consider how employees may have varying levels of fitness activities. To promote inclusivity, the personalized weight loss plans offered by WeightWatchers let employees consult with nutritionists in private. This way, everyone in the office has a weight loss plan specific to their nutritional needs and body goals, but everyone can still download the app and join the office points system.
Many of these apps also provide an overview of participants for admin control. This way, employers can monitor the progress of their employees — while still respecting individual privacy — and use this to adjust the offerings of the cafeteria. Research in PMR stresses how initiating healthy meals in the workplace cafeteria is a critical step in improving health outcomes and streamlining employees’ intake of fruit and vegetables. That is because these facilities are a convenient way for employees to get the meals they need while remaining on campus for productivity.
The convenience of these apps also means that the progress of the weight loss challenge remains consistent even while in the “virtual office.” Corporate wellness CEO Paul O’Reilly-Hyland reiterates the need for programs to meet employees wherever they are in their fitness journey. With their flexible options, employees can select the workouts that best fit their schedule, lifestyle, and personal preferences whether they’re in-office or working remotely.
Consult your employees alongside any third-party fitness company for the best way to implement a weight loss challenge in your office. This can then collectively strengthen the workplace for many future terms.