It’s for good reason that we live in a high-tech world. Technology makes information accessible and allows us to connect, no matter how far we are. And tools like EXOS Journey bring videos, articles, and other resources right to users’ phones and computers, allowing them to be engaged and move closer to their health and performance goals. But just because you don’t have access to high-tech tools, doesn’t mean your program can’t succeed.
Success is more about shifting the workplace culture, making options convenient, and providing the why, not just the how, says Tiffany Grimm, solutions manager for the performance innovation team at EXOS. Try these tech-free concepts and items for improved employee health and wellness.
1. Break out of the conference room.
If you can eschew the laptops and whiteboards, head outside for a walking meeting or gather in a nearby park. Managers can also get creative by hosting a meeting while sitting on stability balls instead of chairs (remember to emphasize good posture). Have them available in the conference room if the meeting requires a traditional setting. Or do away with seating altogether and get down on some yoga mats for a bit of stretching while brainstorming. Eliminating the formalities of conventional meeting structures may also boost creativity.
The key to success is getting senior level employees to lead by example so that the enthusiasm for health has a trickle-down effect. They can shift the culture in meetings as a first step, but they should also be walking the walk all week. “Directors and managers need to be engaged, take breaks, and carve out time for themselves,” Grimm explains. “And they should inspire and encourage employees to do the same.” This creates a culture that it’s OK to take care of yourself.
2. Carve out space for exercise.
Full-scale gym not in the budget? Find a dedicated space and stock it with budget-friendly equipment. “It has to be easy to access and stuff that’s easy to do — without making folks feel awkward,” Grimm explains.
For example, a trainer mat has exercises printed on it, showing users how to get a fast total-body workout just by using their own body weight as resistance. Mini bands also offer employees a resistance session without the use of clunky equipment or weights. Using their smartphone, they can scan a code on the band to view specific exercises. Or you can print posters and hang them in your workout space. A Functional Training System anchors to just about any office door to provide various strength and stability exercises. Using this equipment, employees can get in an upper-body workout on the fly without even having to change clothing.
Muscle building and calorie burning aren’t the only goals here, of course. Employees should also have room to relax and rejuvenate. Even just a few minutes of stretching on a mat, for example, can reduce anxiety or tension and improve their day. Athletes have long used the barrel foam roller to massage and stretch soft tissue after a workout, but this device is great for anyone dealing with pain from sitting at a desk. And the Accustick is the perfect tool for employees who struggle with neck and shoulder tension after hunching over a computer.
The objective here isn’t to solve everyone’s aches and pains in one sitting but to offer some relief and a short break, so they can regroup for improved comfort and focus.
3. Make fitness fun.
Create fun events that encourage camaraderie within departments and friendly competition with other departments. Again, no gadgets required. Using yoga mats or trainer mats, try the plank challenge. Participants pledge to hold a plank position every workday for a month, with the time increasing by five seconds each day. Finishers are entered in a raffle to win prizes. Or the department with the most finishers wins a special outing.
Another option is to create a sign-up board and a chart for people to mark off their progress on a 30-day lunchtime walk challenge. Yes, the tracking could be done online, but there’s something fun about an old-school poster chart complete with gold stars to entice competition.
“Social interaction is incredibly important for accountability and engagement and provides a layer technology can’t,” Grimm says. “Opt for fun, healthy competition and social events that make it easy to fit movement into employees’ work schedules.”
4. Take the next steps.
Your new wellness culture, the low-cost equipment, and fun events are all building blocks for more robust program offerings in the future as you see fit, whether adding tech or not. But one thing to remember, Grimm says, is that education is primary and products are secondary.
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