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Priming employees for improved productivity

Americans have become even more sedentary during the COVID-19 pandemic. More hours are being spent sitting in front of computer and TV screens, and that is having an increasingly adverse effect our health – and organizational costs.

The long-term effects of inactivity have long been known to increase risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. But the short-term consequences can also cause a multitude of physical and mental issues, including:

  • Back and joint pain
  • Muscle tenderness
  • Fatigue
  • Brain fog (feeling fuzzy, forgetful and unable to concentrate)
  • Depression and anxiety

Without interventions, businesses will continue to pay the price of inactive employees through lower productivity, morale, and creativity while seeing higher rates of absenteeism and increased health care costs.

Moving towards health

The benefits of an active workforce have not always been clear as many have believed that a worker who sits down at their desk at 9:00am and doesn’t get up until 5:00pm is more productive than the employee who is always going for coffee or walks throughout the day.

Taking periodic breaks according to Psychology Today has shown to:

  • Enhance retention of new information
  • Restore motivation
  • Improve emotional and physical health
  • Boost problem-solving ability
  • Increase abstract thinking and productivity

So, organizations have nothing to lose and everything to gain by encouraging their people to moving more. Here are a few tips for business leaders to remind employees to be more proactive:

  • Encouraging team members to get up every 30-45 minutes and move. Suggest they set reminders on their phones or computers.
  • Promoting lunch breaks and suggesting people get outside and walk. If a meeting is necessary during lunch hours, consider virtual and in-person walking meetings.
  • Having standing meetings and/or adding bursts of activity or stretching.
  • Inviting teams to participate in virtual stretch or exercise breaks during lunch hours or when feeling fatigued.
  • Making fitness fun. Create fitness challenges where employees can track their steps and win prizes. Contact your company’s Employee Assistance Provider (EAP) for more ideas. Leading providers like LifeWorks have extensive experience motivating, energizing and inspiring teams to be healthy and happy.

Implementing and engaging employees in workplace wellness programs can be challenging especially when employees are not all working in the same space. LifeWorks’ comprehensive Employee Assistance Program has a variety of online platforms and programs to provide easy access to effective – and engaging – mental health and wellbeing support from anywhere and at any time.

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