Helping Your Work-From-Home Employees Stay Fit and Healthy

Healthy employees help your company’s productivity. Are you helping your staff maintain or better their overall health?

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How to plan and customize your approach to employee wellness, during and post-pandemic

In recent weeks, you may have seen conflicting headlines — are employees who are working from home exercising less? More? Just like before the coronavirus, how much a person dedicates to their well-being will vary drastically person to person. The stress and anxiety of current circumstances will move some people to get their blood pumping, while others might feel incapable of leaving the house for a walk.

Ultimately, every person deals with stress and new conditions differently, so it’s no wonder that a new Gallup poll shows not much has changed after the start of the coronavirus when it comes to health and wellness.

There are also potential circumstances well beyond considering how your employees are dealing with the stress of COVID-19. Perhaps they used to be gym rats but now they just can’t motivate themselves to adapt their fitness to an at-home routine. Maybe they used to love running in their neighborhood, but they’re now hunkering down in a space where they don’t feel safe going on a jog outside.

It has been tough to find a lot of at-home fitness equipment since people (with good intentions) quickly snatched them up. From yoga mats to free weights, some telecommuting workers simply haven’t been able to find quality or affordable equipment to actually create a home workout regimen.

The reality of working out when working at home

Some people think that removing time spent physically commuting to an office or getting ready for the day automatically means that “found time” can be dedicated to fitness, but that’s not always the case. A lot of employees are sharing their work-from-home space with schooling-from-home kids or other distractions that actually makes it feel like they have less time than before COVID-19.

The Gallup poll shows that 48% of American adults say the amount of exercise they’re getting is the same as before the pandemic. Another 38% say they’re currently getting less and just 14% say they’re now getting more.

A lot of employees are sharing their work-from-home space with schooling-from-home kids or other distractions that actually makes it feel like they have less time than before COVID-19,

However, working out isn’t the only factor when it comes to wellness. Anyone who has lost weight knows that diet is actually more important for weight loss (though cardio, strength training, balance and flexibility, and other types of workouts are critical for other important factors such as building and maintaining muscle mass).

People eat for a variety of reasons beyond nutrition, most notably stress and boredom — 2 factors people working from home are experiencing a lot these days. Gallup reports that 59% of Americans say their diet hasn’t changed since COVID-19 started while 28% admit it’s worse. Only 13% claim it’s better than before the pandemic. Self-reporting on diet is often even less reliable than self-reporting on exercise, and it’s quite possible these figures are worse than Gallup reports.

The Gallup polls show that 48% of American adults say the amount of exercise they’re getting is the same as before the pandemic. Another 38% say they’re currently getting less and just 14% say they’re now getting more.

What you can do as an employer

According to Gallup, most Americans over the age of 55 have reported that their exercise and diet haven’t changed, which might be due to multiple factors — including the reality that those over 55 were more likely to be retired and more used to current circumstances (or at least not wildly adjusting to a new work environment). The age group most likely to report that their exercise habits have worsened are aged 18 to 34 — at 49%.

So, what can you as an employer do about it? Many of the things you could have done pre-coronavirus, but with some modifications. For example, some employers used to provide discounted or free gym memberships. You can offer discounted or free online workout classes or send employees a yoga mat or kettlebell to use at home.

Numerous studies have shown that people who are happy (which also means healthy) and active are also more productive.

If you’re worried about your employees gaining the “Quarantine 15,” you should be. Numerous studies have shown that people who are happy (which also means healthy) and active are also more productive. It’s in your and your workers’ best interest to help keep your staff fit and healthy.

Building time into daily schedules for encouraged short walks outside or a breathing practice can help set a precedence for activity. Discourage employees from spending hours on their laptop without active breaks. Avoid scheduling back-to-back Zoom meetings. Encourage employees to set timers every 30 to 60 minutes for a 5 to 10 minute activity break.

Don’t forget about mental health

While planning and customizing your approach to employee wellness during quarantine, don’t forget mental and emotional health, too. There are many free and quality meditation apps available, and carving out time daily for your employees to focus on mental health is just as important as their physical health.

We’d love to hear from you! How are you helping your employees maintain or better their overall health?

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