Employee Wellness Should Be the Foundation of the Workplace
Posted Mar 15 2011 6:08pm
T he Sunday, March 6 edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quotes Tim Springer, “It’s still true that the majority of time that people spend working, they spend in a seated position. The chair becomes the foundation of the workplace.” That sound bite may win you some business if your clients sell chairs, but from a productivity standpoint, this is not the foundation that you want to build any other business upon. Studies show that sitting too much decreases productivity in the workplace. It also contributes to poor health, increasing health care costs and absentee levels.
It is true that many people spend a lot of time sitting at work, but this needs to change. We should not be promoting inactivity or sedentary habits if we truly want to have a healthy and energetic workforce. While proper ergonomic design is important when we do sit, we should not get too comfortable.
As a nation, we are already sitting too much at home and in the car, but sitting too much at work can lead to even more sitting outside of work. Most people spend the majority of their waking hours at work or school, so it becomes even more important to be physically active in those places. Even people who try make up for their sedentary time by being active before or after work are not immune from metabolic and cardiovascular health risks. These “active couch potatoes” are not able to undo the negative effects of sitting and are still at risk.
Instead, frequent short breaks from sitting (or standing still) can increase productivity and overcome many of the health risks. Employees should have the ability to perform tasks while sitting, standing, or moving around. Many strategies can be incorporated into our routines and will not interfere with our work flow. Other strategies take a little more effort and may seem to interrupt our work at first, but ultimately end up increasing our overall productivity throughout the day.
The best way to accomplish these things is through a comprehensive workplace wellness program that promotes adequate physical activity. Avoiding long periods of sitting is just one part of a culture of wellness whose ultimate goal is to maintain and improve employee health. This should be the foundation of the workplace.
Dr. Marc Tinsley is the People Repairman™ and the founder of Fitness For The Rest of Us™. He is a health, fitness, and wellness expert who takes the fear, difficulty, mystery, and confusion out of exercising, eating healthier, and taking better care of yourself. He energizes individuals and organizations so that they can stop losing money, and be more productive.