How to Encourage a Healthy Employee Lifestyle While Disconnected

Supporting and encouraging a healthy employee lifestyle

by Elle Mason - June 25, 2021

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be challenging enough, but trying to do it while working remotely can feel near impossible for many workers.

To start, remote works eliminates commuting for most people, and while this may save them time, gas and money, it can also mean less walking or cycling. Even a brisk ten minutes between the parking lot and your desk each way is better than nothing. And unfortunately, without the pressure of a commute, many employees might default to “nothing.”

Speaking of commutes, when the transition to work is no longer clearly defined, and your “getting ready” process means simply moving from the bedroom to the coffee table, the lack of boundaries between “work” and “rest” can weigh on people – leading to more stress or longer hours.

Remote work can make it more challenging to get into a routine, or stretch your legs the way you would to visit a coworker’s desk or to make a coffee run – and it makes it more challenging to determine when “work” is truly over.

Given that, encouraging (and modeling) healthy employee lifestyles and habits can be a great way to improve the way that people feel at work – even while disconnected.

Just as it is harder to engage employees during the age of remote work, it may be difficult to encourage a healthy lifestyle in general from behind a screen. This article will serve as a resource for HR managers to better support and encourage a healthy employee lifestyle, even from far away. This can mean anything from active lifestyle tips to mental health, and beyond.

Start with Prevention

  • Promote wellness activities: Like Meditation Mondays or Yoga Fridays. While these activities shouldn’t be mandatory, sharing and allowing people to opt-in to these types of events can demonstrate a commitment to healthy lifestyles.
  • Continue to Allow flexible work: While this may not seem obviously health-related, for many employees, it can be! It can lead to more walks throughout the day, more time to cook healthier meals instead of opting for take-out and a massive reduction in stress that comes with better work-life integration.
  • Share health insurance information: Robust health plans often come with benefits beyond the standard coverage like EAP access or other elements that employees may not be aware of. Be sure to highlight and share these benefits and how they can be utilized.

Ensure That You’re Being a Role Model

  • No late emails: Consider using an email scheduler if you find yourself on the clock at midnight. No matter how well-intended, a lot of employees will feel pressured to adopt late work hours when they see people in leadership doing so – and they’ll also feel pressured to respond immediately regardless of the time.
  • Think twice about virtual Happy Hours: How about Coffee Hours? Tea Hours? Think of ways to build camraderie and connection that don’t involve alcohol, which can often come with some hidden or invisible pressures to partake.
  • Remember that everything speaks: Actions speak louder than words, and if employees see their managers and senior leaders living work-first and health-later lifestyles, they’ll feel pressured to emulate some of those behaviors. By being a role model, you’re actually giving implicit permission for people to prioritize their health and wellness.

Encourage Physical Activity

  • Build in rest breaks and stopping points: Try not to book a calendar full of back-to-back meetings and instead remember to account for human needs. Even setting meetings to 45 minutes instead of the default 60 minutes can help give people some breathing room to stretch their legs or take a water break on a busy day.
  • Share local races or walks for a health cause: If there are local walks or races for critical illnesses, considering boosting them for awareness and even inviting people to participate in these activities if they’re inclined to.
  • Consider additions to the benefits: How robust is your employee health plan? Many companies have considered subsidizing gym memberships, offering rewards for wellness activities (e.g. steps taken in a month) covering the costs of critical vaccines and other preventative health measures.

Don’t Forget about Mental Health

  • Create a company mental health plan: Whether it’s encouraging people to take advantage of their EAP benefits, or offering a regular Mental Health and Well-Being topic and workshop, mental health is as critical as physical health. In fact, the two often work in tandem and influence each other. Think about how to integrate mental health into the organization’s physical health plans.
  • Administer pulse checks: How are people feelings? Are they feeling engaged and connected or isolated and disconnected? Are they overwhelmed? Well-balanced? The best way to find out is to ask. Make it a routine to administer periodic pulse checks or engagement surveys – and even better, follow up on that data and take action when you see warning signs.
  • Encourage positive communication and leadership: All of the health and well-being initiatives in the world can’t overcome a negative leadership style. Offer trainings around positive leadership, positive communication and organizational culture. It’ll go a long way.

Try Virtual Wellness Activities

  • Consider corporate health applications: Digital apps that can do anything from tracking people’s steps to helping them stay on top of wellness visits can help encourage entire company’s and teams to prioritize their health.
  • Observe health-related awareness days: From Breast Cancer Awareness Month to World AIDS Day, observing and recognizing these days can not only be encouraging, but can foster appreciation for employees who may be impacted by these various illnesses.
  • Share health articles and newsletters: This can be in the form of a weekly or monthly digest, or even a calendar.

GoCo can make all of these things easier. Since you can automate any HR checklist, you can use GoCo to create automated flows for employee engagement surveys, performance management/feedback and more. With this, you can easily engage the employee, ask for feedback and see how you can better support a healthy lifestyle.

This isn’t just limited to pulse checks and surveys, either. Digitizing your processes in general will help support healthier work-life balance. Employees won’t spend as much time on manual or administrative work, and neither will HR. HR can automate processes through the GoCo platform so that they can focus on employee engagement programs instead.

See how GoCo can simplify your HR