When it comes to encouraging population health and wellness, the New Year may be one of the easiest times to do it. There’s nothing special about this time of year, per se, it’s just that many people are ready for a fresh slate and a clean start. It’s basically the “I’ll start eating healthy on Monday” of the calendar year. But it’s a great time to take advantage of the enthusiasm of your population and propel your health and wellness initiatives forward.
In this post we’ll explore four ways to help promote population health and wellness in the New Year. Keep reading!
1. Encourage Movement
When it comes to improving population health, one of the best – and easiest – things you can do is encourage individuals to move more. Whether they’re at work, school, or home there are nearly always ample opportunities for someone to get up and move and make it fun. In nice weather, for example, you could hold a “walking meeting” for brainstorming sessions rather than gathering everyone into a conference room. On days with inclement weather – or for times when a meeting absolutely must take place in a conference room – you could try handing out some waters and starting out with a few stress-relieving stretches to get everyone hydrated and their blood is flowing. Similarly, encouraging those who can to take the stairs rather than elevators is an easy way to “get some steps in” without making too much of an impact on their day.
Of course, you’ll want to be careful to create opportunities that are both inclusive of the needs and abilities of everyone on your team and don’t begin to foster an overly competitive environment.
2. Provide Alternatives
Picture this – you’re sitting at your desk fighting off a 2pm slump. You’re feeling like you need a quick boost, so you get up and head to the break room where there are vending and soda machines full of sugar-packed snacks and drinks. Perfect, right? Not so fast! Those daily junk food sessions aren’t doing anyone any favors. For starters, the quick burst of energy from a sugar rush might last through clock-out time but it isn’t necessarily making anyone more productive. In fact, according to Psychology Today, “high blood sugar paired with a mentally challenging task is associated with high levels of cortisol – a stress hormone known to impair memory.” So, if it feels like everything that happened after your late-afternoon nosh is a candy-coated blur, that’s because your brain is honestly struggling to recall what happened. And second, a daily binge session could do a number on someone’s health. The occasional unhealthy snack here or there is fine, but a daily habit adds up.
Instead, encourage alternative, healthy snacks – or better yet, provide them! When your population is aware of the healthier alternatives and actually has them in reach, they’ll be more likely to choose them. An apple a day keeps the doctor away – but it will also help keep energy levels, and productivity, high.
3. Lead by Example
One of the best things any organization leader can do is lead by example. Telling people to do something is one thing but practicing what you preach and making yourself accountable is another. When your population sees you taking the stairs, munching on some baby carrots – or heck, reads about your Couch to 5K training in the company newsletter – they’ll be more inspired to follow suit. Additionally, humans are inclined to follow the leader – figuratively and literally. If we’re lost in a crowd we tend to just go the same direction that everyone else is going, and if we’re trying to figure out what we should be doing (while struggling through an inaugural Barre class – no, just us?) we’ll look around and copy someone nearby.
4. Administer a Health Risk Assessment
You don’t know what you don’t know – and that’s especially true about your health. To be fair, most people know that healthy eating and exercise are what’s best for them, but they may not realize that they’re at risk of developing chronic diseases. By providing your population with a health risk assessment (HRA) they’ll be able to glean insight into their specific health status and you’ll be able to provide them with resources and interventions that can help them get back on track.
Are you ready to learn more about working with your population to advance their health and wellness goals? Learn what other factors (besides the New Year) contribute to change readiness by downloading our whitepaper below.