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3 Ways to Promote Health Within Your Organization

Health problems are costly in more ways than one: personal lives suffer, productivity drops, your clients are unhappy and your revenue takes a dive. A healthy worker is not only one that lacks a sickness, but also one that feels great about waking up every morning and going to work. In other words, health is important for your employees and your business. That is why in this article we share three ways in which you can promote health within your organization. Read on to learn more.

Health is such an important matter that governments around the world are encouraging their citizens to adopt healthy lifestyles. For example, the Mexican government started taxing sugary drinks and junk food. They have also just implemented tax breaks for those who visit a nutritionist. Japan has started looking into an epidemic of Karoshi or sudden deaths caused by overwork. Sweden has cut back working hours to six hours per day. France started paying its citizens for riding their bike to work. The list goes on. 

According to the American Heart Association, as published by Construction Business Owner, costs of cardiovascular illnesses cost about $316.6 billion dollars per year in the US. In fact, heart problems are more common in the construction industry. This number includes healthcare costs and lost productivity. In other words, an unhealthy person will not only have to pay for medical care but also will lose money by not being able to work. Therefore, health issues impact the individual, the company that employs her, and her country.  But not only can governments do something about this issue, your company can also promote health among its employees. Here are three ways to do it:

Look into your company values

This might sound cheesy, but in fact, checking your company values is very important. If your values promote respect, collaboration and integrity, team members will create a healthy working environment. In our article "How soft skills can help your construction project succeed", we mention Simon Sinek's book "Why Leaders Eat Last". This book also mentions a very important factor: a competitive, hostile working environment has a chemical impact on employees. The fear of losing their jobs or the stress induced by hard deadlines or poor interpersonal relationships produces cortisol. This chemical is the very same that our ancestors produced when they were being chased by a saber tooth tiger. Only today, this chemical stays there for days on end. In turn, heart disease skyrockets. 

The opposite is also true, according to Sinek. A friendly, cooperative working environment makes people produce oxytocin and endorphins. Oxytocin is the chemical produced when someone feels loved or supported by friends. Endorphins are produced after healthy exercise and make you "addicted" to these boosts of good energy. 

Ask your employees what their health goals are

Have you asked your employees what their health goals are? Perhaps they don't have a straight answer because they haven't really thought about it. Ask them and give them a chance to really think about it. Then, after a certain period of time, ask them again and make them commit to those goals. 

Start a formal health program

As a way to encourage healthy lifestyles, just like the government initiatives mentioned above, you too can start your own health program. Collect your employees' answers from the previous point. Set your own company goals, and then design simple strategies that can help you achieve them. For example, include gym memberships or dancing lessons in your employee benefits program. Ask your employees to go home after a certain time of day. Overwork causes health problems, (look up Japan's Karoshi epidemic). In other words, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars a month to encourage a healthy lifestyle in your workforce, you only have to make small changes that can go a long way. 

Health is unfortunately very much underestimated. Without it, nothing else can be achieved. 

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