Healthy workplaces can happen by doing small things

Managers set the tone for healthy environments

Does it seem ludicrous that there could be such a thing as the nation’s healthiest community? Or that you could live in it?

On one hand, it does seem impossible. But on the other hand, why not? What’s stopping it from happening?

If everyone had a commitment to taking small steps in the choices they make, I believe the impact could be huge. (The same holds true for management development, too.)

Yesterday, PeopleSense Consulting (that’s me) became an Organizational Champion in the Vision 2020 program. Vision 2020 is a community-wide health initiative designed to actively engage the citizens of Cheshire County [New Hampshire] in the process of becoming the nation’s healthiest community by the year 2020.

Months ago, I signed up to be an Individual Champion because I believed in the direction of the initiative. And since I don’t have employees, I didn’t think the organizational program was for me.

But yesterday I had an epiphany. It’s not about the number of employees. It’s about the impact one can have. One person can make a difference.

It’s funny how the things that should be so obvious to someone often aren’t. Having that light bulb go off for me was almost embarrassing. Why hadn’t I seen it that way before?

When I can set a good example of making healthy lifestyle choices, it may or may not change the behavior of others. And that’s ok. But I can feel good about knowing that I’m doing what feels right to me. Even though I don’t have employees, I have direct connections with hundreds, even thousands, of employees. It’s like that proverbial ripple in the water. One drop spreads to many.

I’ve never been athletic. Nor coordinated. Nor skinny. So within my own self-image, I’m not what I consider the ideal model for being healthy. Healthy to me has always been reserved for marathon runners or health-club fanatics. How silly is that?

So I have begun to think about it differently. I love the outdoors. I try to walk everyday, either outside with Grace or on the elliptical, sometimes both. I love fresh, locally grown food and despite not loving to cook, I’ll spend lots of time in the kitchen to prepare dishes with authentic ingredients. I’m diligent about working a weekly yoga class into my schedule. I’d love to play more golf that I do.  I’m surely not perfect when it comes to eating right nor will I always walk fast enough so that my heart rate reaches that magic number for cardiovascular benefit. But I try.

And that’s what the Vision 2020 Organizational Champions program is about. Doing what you can to encourage yourself and others. Last night, I finished off dinner with a delicious slice of homemade blueberry pie. See, I’m not perfect. And I have no regrets about that sweet treat. Moderation can be healthy, too.

Just like the connections I see with Grace and the workplace, I see those same ties to how healthy individuals feed a healthy corporate culture. For starters, being active and eating healthy helps us handle stress easier. And we all know there is plenty of opportunity to deal with stress in our jobs!

As managers, you can set an example by doing small things.

    • Take the stairs.
    • Park further away from the front door.
    • Stretch while you’re on the phone.
    • Bring a creative and decorative fresh fruit and vegetable platter to celebrate some project milestone.
    • Commit to a certain amount of time to unplug from your phone and email — especially when you’re on vacation. And make sure you encourage your employees to do the same.

I’d love to hear your ideas on how you incorporate good practices in your office. What do you do that helps you and your employees live healthier? What are things that distract you from making those choices?

By now, you know that I’m facilitating a workshop entitled “What Type of Leader are You” on Sept 27. (We won’t be talking about nutrition or exercise.) But I’ll be serving a healthy breakfast to start the day off right. And I’m committed to spending a few minutes doing something healthy in a break. Those are tiny, but important things I can do to help all of us be our best. I hope you’ll join me.

Together, we can make a difference.

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