Hanging with my Healthy Friend

One of my best friends is a complete health nut. She is vegetarian, never indulges in junk food, she runs every day, is a mum of two kids under 8, has her own successful business and always manages to seem fresh and bubbly. If she wasn’t so nice I would really like to hate her… But she really is lots of fun and a positive force to be around. If I’m looking for someone to have a few too many wines with or a movie night with a big tub of ice cream, she’s not exactly my go to person but.. whenever I am around her, I find her healthy ways start to rub off. It’s really hard to spend time with her and not do the right things in terms of my health and wellbeing.
This got me to thinking: If my healthy friend has such a positive influence over my health and wellbeing, how healthy would I be if I spent every single day with her? Then came the light bulb moment - could the workplace: somewhere I do have to be everyday, have the same impact?
What if my workplace was such a healthy place, with so much positive healthy messaging all around, that being healthy and making the right choices every day started to become my normal?
Now, this may seem a little far-fetched, but when it comes to relationships, we are greatly influenced — whether we like it or not — by those closest to us. It affects many things we do, including our way of thinking, our self-esteem, and our decisions. Of course, everyone is his or her own person, but recent research has shown that we’re more affected by our environment than we think.
A 2016 study by researchers from the University of Birmingham revealed that exposure to social-based messages promoting healthy eating can increase consumption of fruit and vegetables and reduce consumption of high-calorie snacks. In new research presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior (SSIB), the foremost society for research into all aspects of eating and drinking behavior, the researchers found that a "social norm" message - that other people enjoy eating fruits and vegetables - had a particularly powerful effect on food choices.
With this in mind, health and wellness shouldn’t be a once-in-awhile idea that people think about and act upon when it’s convenient or when they have a little bit of extra time. If our workplace cultures embrace health and wellbeing so that it is around us constantly it could become like a healthy friend that positively influences the choices we make every single day.
Here are a few simple ways you can connect with your people and turn your workplace environment into a positive influence for those that are in it each day:

1. Deliver communications through a variety of touchpoints.

Don’t rely exclusively on just one style. Too often we see a blanket approach to wellbeing messaging delivered through posters and an online platform. Push out communications using various modes and show employees that, just like a ‘healthy friend’, you get them. At B2L we have a simple rule when thinking about employee communications and engagement: If it wouldn’t appeal to us, we don’t employ it in our programs. Get creative by using the resources that are at your disposal. Some modes of communication you can employ are:

  • Newsletters
  • Posters
  • Deskdrops
  • Activations
  • Company influencers
  • In house AV equipment
  • Company Social networks

2. Train your managers to include healthy messages in their communications

By balancing stressful tasks with healthy messages, managers can reinforce employees’ feelings of value and boost team morale, productivity and performance. Equipping managers with the skills and resources to integrate wellbeing into the fabric of the day to day is an essential piece of the engagement puzzle that employers often overlook.

3. Keep messaging light and brief

The aim here is to get employee’s attention, then target them with the more serious message. We often see companies trying to enforce healthy behavior with one dimensional, dictated messaging and wondering why employees elude them, or even worse, recoil. If you think about it, no one likes to listen to the broken record, sanctimonious friend who won’t stop telling you to ‘watch your sugar’ or ‘do yoga’. You want to instead, be the inspirational, informative and interesting friend who encourages, enthuses and motivates. Taking a marketing approach to delivery can help. Use different ways to reinforce what you’re trying to communicate - e.g. a tip, inspirational quote, something funny, videos, quizzes or challenges all ensure you capture the attention of all different types of employees without seeming overbearing, boring or preachy.

Below are just some examples of ways you can turn your workplace environment into a “healthy friend” for your employees.

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