Finally! The weather is warming up, and you want your employees to burn off that cabin fever they all seem to have. But how? They were extremely active in your summer and fall wellness programs, but interest waned quickly in the winter, and now you feel as if you’re starting from scratch again. Motivating employees to participate in your company’s wellness program in the winter months is tough, especially when opportunities for exercise are dictated by the weather.
Before you bust out your major wellness programs for the year ahead, it’s best to ease your staff back into being active. Here are a few small activities you can implement immediately (and most are free!).
Lunch on the Lawn
When the weather is just starting to be nice, your staff may be spending more time staring out the windows than staring at their work stations. Instead of urging them to pay more attention, invite them outdoors. Start weekly (or daily!) lunches on the lawn where staff can come together to socialize and get some air. If this turns out to be a big hit with your staff, you could hire a nutritionist to teach healthy-eating classes during the outdoor lunches. Another option is to invite a farm to sell their produce at the same time as your staff are eating outside.
Did you have a super-active walking or running club last year? Prepare to bring it back by offering short walking breaks for employees once or twice throughout the day. These quick jaunts only need to last about 5–10 minutes each and can take place when your staff would normally have some downtime to take a break. If you see increased participation, offer 15-minute walks: one in the morning before work starts and one in the afternoon after everyone clocks out. If you’re seeing decreased participation, invite the C-suite or managers to lead the walk. If employees know they can have informal access to the company leaders, they may be more willing to join.
It’s possible that your staff are looking for a new activity and that they’ve grown tired of your previous wellness initiatives. If you haven’t tried yoga, the spring is a great season to offer it as an option to your staff. Since it won’t get them very sweaty, and it’s easy enough for most body types, your staff will likely sign up. Offer it in the mornings right before work, or better yet, start the hour-long session a half-hour before their workday begins. Motivating employees is easy if you schedule a 30-minute session in the morning to get physically active.
Create a Community Garden
Give your staff ownership of an outdoor herb garden. This project is a great way to get people outside for short periods, and if you have a cafeteria, the herbs can be used in meals. If you don’t, allow each garden grower to bring home some of the herbs once they’ve fully matured. For a successful herb garden, all you need are pots full of dirt, seeds, sunlight and someone to regularly water the seedlings. If you have enough outdoor space that you’re willing to use for the garden, you can expand it to include vegetables, fruit and flowers. This is sure to be an activity your staff looks forward to annually.
Soak In the Sunlight
Some of your less-active employees may be hesitant to join a newly formed running club or show up early for morning yoga, but if you give them 10 minutes of downtime after lunch to just sit in the sun, there’s a chance they’ll take you up on the offer. Plus, vitamin D helps ward off depression. To entice staff to show up, pass out free samples of sunscreen. Invite professionals to lead a meditation, breathing or simple stretching workshop during the sun time.
One final tip: If you want any of these outdoor initiatives to take off, you’re going to have to participate as well. If your staff see you holed up in your office, they’ll follow suit. Lead by example and spend some time being active outdoors.