A Healthy Workplace


10 Suggestions for a Healthy Workplace

What is an employer's role when it comes to the health of his or her employees? It may be an opportunity to facilitate health in ways that are welcomed and embraced by employees. As a physician who gets a detailed work history on all of my patients, I am in a unique position to offer first-hand feedback based on what patients have shared. Below are 10 suggestions to assist you in helping employees achieve better health.

  1. Role model a healthy lifestyle. Doing is more powerful than talking. If you lead by example you will have more influence than you could ever have by talking or writing.
  2. Listen to your employees about what they need from you regarding ways to achieve better health at work. What do they think will improve the situation? Then, before you commit to anything, you will have some reassurance that it will have a positive response.
  3. Discourage high fat and high sugar foods in the workplace. You can't control what employees bring from home to eat or what clients offer as gifts, but you can start by communicating to outside vendors that you don't want fast food or processed food brought into your company.
  4. Give your employees time and space to eat snacks and lunch. People are more in-tune with their bodies and what they are eating when they eat at a designated area without many distractions. Also consider relocating junk food away from common staff areas to help those who are trying to avoid it.
  5. Promote healthy habits during the workday such as walk breaks, walking meetings, brown bag lunches and periodic relaxation.
  6. Be present and really look at your employees. Do they look healthy? Rested? Calm? If not, why?
  7. Negotiate a discounted gym membership for your employees at a local gym or recreation center.
  8. Sign up with your employees as a team to participate in a walk or other exercise event for a health related issue.
  9. Address wellness and preventive issues aggressively through community and hospital services.
  10. Conduct simple surveys to evaluate work satisfaction and response to health promotions at work. Are they helping?

Many area employers have already implemented changes to promote health such as treadmills at the office, plenty of time at lunch for exercise, financial support for wellness and weight loss services, and immense encouragement of employees who are trying to become healthier. Hopefully these employers are seeing the benefits including less employee sick days, health cost savings, improved work outcomes and enhanced employee loyalty and contentment.

Along with employers, the Medical Weight Management Program at Mission Hospital helps patients achieve improved health and quality of life through lifestyle modification, nutrition intervention, exercise counseling and medical treatment. Options include non-surgical alternatives to weight management in a structured, comprehensive and physician-supervised program. For any questions or assistance, please contact Mission's Medical Weight Management Program coordinator, Patty Klatt at 828-213-4787.

Good luck!

Sonia Humphrey, MD
Bariatrician, Mission Medical Weight Management Program