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National Walking Month: 4 solutions you’ll want to try today

Published by: LifeWorks,

It’s here — May is National Walking Month in the UK, which is sponsored by Living Streets, an organisation dedicated to creating a walking nation. They’re raising awareness about the health benefits of walking, and you’d be surprised by the impact it can have on employee well-being.

First, walking has a direct impact on good heart health. In fact, a November 2016 study from Binghamton University and State University of New York found that moderately intensive walking improves cardiovascular risk factors in the short-term.

It’s not just your heart that loves to walk — you can improve your mood, shrink your waistline, and build strength in your muscles and bones.

This is why you need to incorporate walking in your workplace — to get your staff engaged in improving their health. The best part about walking is it caters to everybody, regardless of their fitness level.

Let’s take a look at some of the ways you can improve employee well-being by incorporating walking:

Meetings with movement

When it comes to improving employee well-being, you need to incorporate it in as many aspects of the work day as you can. And why not add some fun to one of the most unpopular work functions — meetings.

The truth is, a lot of people hate meetings. In fact, a January 2015 Clarizen survey of more than 2,000 U.S. adults found that employees would rather watch paint dry, commute four hours, or endure a root canal than attend a boring meeting.

The solution? Get people moving. Walking meetings are a great way to better engage participants in the pow-wow. Not to mention, walking can fuel creativity, making it easier to generate new ideas.

The feeling of fresh air and sunshine is also a nice benefit if you take your meetings outside. Nature and movement can elevate everyone’s mood.

Introduce walking meetings by scheduling one in advance. This way, your staff can wear comfortable shoes. Then, create specific routes for shorter and longer meetings. You should also conduct informal, one-on-one meetings like this.

When Plain & Fancy Cabinetry needed to engage their staff and improve employee well-being, they adopted weekly company walks.

“Our company walks give everyone a chance to get to know one another on a personal level,” said Brandon Lawrence, the Director of Human Resources. “Nobody is ever left behind.”

That’s what walking meetings are all about — bringing your team together to engage in a healthy, productive practise. Plus, you can make it both fun and productive.

Tools to succeed

Your employees need to be equipped with the right tools and resources to adopt healthier habits at work. The goal is to encourage moderate exercise as a daily practise, and they can do this during their work day.

For example, you can provide treadmill desks for your staff. This way, they can keep their blood moving and stay alert while pulling reports or creating presentations.

Encourage employees to step away from their desks from time to time by providing mobile devices, like headsets. This allows them to take calls on the go.

Also, start fun wellness competitions as part of your employee well-being program. Consider providing pedometers or wearable fitness trackers to your staff.

At LifeWorks, we provide fitness trackers and incorporate them into ongoing step challenges. We’ve seen great results thus far — 39 percent of our employees participate, and each employee who participated averaged 172,723 steps since the competition began a little over two weeks ago.

Not only are these fun, but also they’re incredibly motivating. Everyone holds each other accountable and inspires one another to reach their goal of 10,000 steps every day.

Incentives to commute

Many companies reward employees who take healthier commute options, like walking or biking to work. In fact, some even offer cash.

Let’s take a look at Clif as an example. Their culture values sustaining not just the planet and their community, but also sustaining their people.

They offer cash to those who take public transportation and even provide a stipend for employees to buy bikes. If you incentivise these active commuting options, your employees are more likely to take the healthy route.

Time for breaks

The days of admiring workers who eat lunch at their desks are long gone. This type of work martyr mentality is counterproductive and detrimental to employee well-being.

Instead, create policies to get them out of the office for short breaks. Many employers worry that if they encourage breaks, employees may miss deadlines. However, as the 2016 Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index survey found, 57 percent of employers and 64 percent of employees agreed taking adequate breaks is a key factor in their overall productivity.

As Living Streets proposes, you want employees to #Try20 — get at least 20 minutes of walking every day. You can organise fun scavenger hunts to break employees away from work for awhile so they can get their steps in.

At LifeWorks, we also encourage fitness breaks throughout the day. Every Tuesday and Thursday, we host a ‘Fit in Fifteen’ session. Our office coordinator conducts a 15-minute workout that includes stretching. Everyone can participate, and many people do it at their desks. We reward those who actively participate the most with fun prizes.

Use National Walking Month as an opportunity to shift the focus of your culture on employee well-being. It’s a great way to start motivating positive lifestyle changes.

How are you improving employee well-being during National Walking Month?

Make your employees feel loved