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Better health means the world to your employees (even if they don’t fully recognize the benefits until they see them). A healthy, active lifestyle, including proper nutrition, sleep, hydration and stress management can improve everything from aches and pains to the risk of serious illnesses down the road. When you’re taking active steps toward health (both literally and figuratively), you feel better, you work harder, you think smarter and you improve your statistical odds of avoiding serious issues like diabetes and heart disease.

So, everyone should just decide to be healthy! Right? Not exactly. The workplace isn’t always conducive to healthy habits, and far too often, simply coming into the office each day can send employees spinning off down the wrong path. This is especially true if workers are encouraged to sit still at their desks all day, eat unhealthy foods for the sake of convenience or carry unnecessary stress. To combat these pitfalls, take a stand on behalf of employee health by developing a wellness initiative. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Cost versus Benefits

A wellness initiative won’t cost much for the company, and it can bring huge benefits to the bottom line. Not only will employees contribute more and stay home sick less, they’ll also generate fewer insurance claims and be happier overall. In terms of cost, you don’t have to build a full gym into your workplace (though that helps). Simply providing enough time and incentives for healthy behavior can cost almost nothing. For example, encouraging employees to take stretch breaks, form walking groups or stay home when they’re sick can all yield big dividends.

Solicit ideas.

Walking clubs are an easy win, and so are contests in which employees rack up points for daily steps taken. Supplying healthy food in the cafeteria can also help. So can allowing time and space for daily meditation. But there are plenty of ideas that haven’t been conceived yet; ask your employees for suggestions.

Make healthy decisions easy and fun.

When employees don’t get enough sleep, or don’t take enough time away from their desks, it’s not because they’re lazy; it’s because they’re responding to the pressures of their workplace culture. Change the culture and make sure your managers are rewarding the right behavior. If employees call in sick, don’t give them a hard time—thank them for doing the right thing. If they leave to exercise at lunch and come back two minutes late, provide positive (not negative) reinforcement.

For more on how to encourage health in your workplace by using the power of positivity, teamwork and appropriate rewards, turn to the Milwaukee management experts at Extension.

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