It’s not exactly news that there’s a connection between health and productivity. An infographic from our friends at ZeroCater outlines some up-to-date statistics on this link.
There’s tons to say about this topic, but we’ll save our commentary until after you’ve looked at their gigantic image. Scroll through and then see our thoughts below.
Let’s review the highlights:
- Good health habits (eating healthy, exercising regularly, being a non-smoker) lead to increased productivity
- Simple behaviors (high fives, stretching, healthy snacks, or quick naps) can reduce stress and boost your mood
- Drink plenty of water!
None of this is all that surprising. We’ve talked about the link between health and productivity before. We’ve explained why stress and health problems are costing a trillion dollars a year. And you already knew that you should eat less fast food, that smoking is not good for you, and that you shouldn’t sit so much.
So why are we bringing this up? Because…
Workplace Culture Often Unintentionally Encourages Unhealthy Choices
You know why there’s a vending machine at your office? It’s not because these usually contain great healthy choices. Rather, it’s because this is a way employers can provide access to some calories with little to no direct cost. And of course, the vending machine prevents people from having to leave the office to get a bite to eat.
That’s the same reason we have desks and cubicles. Employers aren’t trying to make this a healthy place to live and work. They give people a place to sit so they can be there longer, and they crowd them into less real estate because that saves money.
And what about the office itself? Is a big building full of people where you have to commute to daily really something which is as healthy as possible? Driving to and from the office requires us to deal with the stress of traffic and the discomfort of sitting in the cramped space of our automobile. That, plus the general frustration that can occur when you’re in a crowded room with noises and distractions. How is this healthy?
To Encourage Healthy Choices: Trust Employees and Grant Them Freedom
Why do people make the awful mistake of having lunch at their desks? It’s because they are expected to be always available and because there isn’t enough time for them to take a real break and still finish by the end of the day.
What if instead, we trusted employees to get their work done and gave them the freedom to do that work whenever they wanted and wherever they wanted? That way, they wouldn’t be slamming energy drinks or racing through traffic to get to the office by 8:00am.
Furthermore, trusting employees means we don’t need to worry about where they are and how to reach them at every moment of the day. If someone does need to take a nap, go for a walk, or enjoy a leisurely healthy meal, they can do that.
And that doesn’t mean that we can’t eat together as a team sometimes. After all, it may make sense to enjoy a meal together when working on an important project or when developing our working relationships.
So remember: health does improve productivity. But you can’t force people to be healthy. Instead, you can empower them to have the freedom and trust to be able to make healthy choices, rather than limiting them so that unhealthy choices are the most available options.
Think about the next time you’re eating a bag of buttered popcorn for lunch or making that fourth cup of coffee. Healthy choices are likely as much about workplace culture as they are about individual decisions.