Book Review: “The Healthy Workplace”

To start achieving a healthier workplace, one of the easiest things is to encourage your employees to walk more.

“The Healthy Workplace” by Leigh Stringer
c.2016, Amacom
$27.95 / higher in Canada
234 pages
There’s something going around the office this month.
It appears to be a cold; half the staff is sniffling, the other half is coughing, everybody’s sluggish, and you’re not feeling so well yourself. Will this affect your business?  Maybe, but in “The Healthy Workplace” by Leigh Stringer, you’ll find ways to minimize it next time.
As an overworked, overstressed mother of two, Leigh Stringer didn’t seem to be able to unplug until a minor crisis indicated to her that there wasn’t much of a choice anymore. Stringer had to learn “to stop working so hard and start working smart.”
Once, she was a marathon runner, and she remembered how great that felt. Now, there were no hours left in her day, so no time even for the gym. What if, she mused, work was exercise? What if there was a way to incorporate healthier practices on the job?
Healthy employees are more energetic, she says, more creative, more alert, and “are less prone to take sick days…” Mentally healthy workers are more focused and engaged. Productivity zooms when co-workers feel good.
To start achieving a healthier workplace, one of the easiest things is to encourage your employees to walk more. Urge them to walk around the room, down the hall, downstairs, or outside. Program elevators to work slower, making stairs “more attractive to use.” If you’re purchasing new office furniture, consider buying treadmill desks; studies show that walking boosts creativity and lessens the chances of brain-lock.
Give your employees more autonomy. Allow more leeway on how and where they do their work. Consider telecommuting, flexible work hours, or job-sharing.
Carve out a place for employees to work out, including showers and bike storage. Create napping areas or quiet zones for employees to mentally unplug or de-stress. Offer classes on mindfulness or meditation. Rein in after-hours emails and encourage employees to use vacation time. Remove fatty snacks from the breakroom vending machine; replace them with healthy alternatives.
Finally, so you know this is working for you, too, calculate the ROI for your wellness program. Working smarter is smarter in more ways than one.
You’d like to think your workplace is progressive. You like to think you’re on top of the trends. So are you ready for the ideas inside “The Healthy Workplace”?
You might be but, in the short run, it won’t be cheap.  Author Leigh Stringer has many, many great ideas that your employees would no doubt appreciate, but few of those ideas can be done on a budget; some, in fact, may require extensive workplace remodeling. Even so, Stringer offers compelling reasons for business owners to at least look into better well-being programs – or, to at least look the other way if their employees are already taking initiatives on their own.
This is a provocative book and, because better health is a national concern, it’s full of things you’ll likely be hearing about for years to come. Whether it’s immediately applicable to your business is up to you, but “The Healthy Workplace” won’t leave you cold.