It’s a new year and an opportunity for a new beginning. A fresh start. Lots of people have been setting goals and resolutions for the year and a great many of them will be health related. New year resolutions often face their stiffest test on the cold long January days when we’re back at work after the festive break. That’s why I always love to see the hugely underrated Operation Transformation programme back on RTE. There’s no other show that I know of that provides so much positivity and inspiration to those looking to make healthy lifestyle changes. The show is a brilliant motivator for people up and down the country looking to introduce (and stick with) healthy behaviour changes at the start of the year.
OT and Irish Business
When I’m discussing health promotion at the workplace with CEO’s and senior management teams in Irish businesses, I often encourage them to use the Operation Transformation leaders as an example for how they can become role models for healthy behaviour change in their organisations. The OT leaders lead by example for their families, friends and followers all over the island. The leaders in Irish businesses can be the healthy role models for all of their employees.
In Operation Transformation, the leaders go public with their goals to make healthy changes in their lives. Their families and friends and the general public follow their example and hold them accountable each week. In the workplace, I encourage senior leaders to go public with their own health and wellness goals. They don’t have to be marathon runners, they don’t need to be lifting heavy weights or leading yoga classes every morning but they should strive to make healthier choices in their daily working lives to set an example for their teams.
Where do you start?
Here’s a few ideas on how to set a healthy example at the workplace:
Take the stairs over the lift
Bring a healthy pre-prepared lunch to work
Take regular breaks from your desk
Eat with colleagues and not in isolation at your desk
Get out for a walk or some other kind of exercise at lunch time
Drink plenty of water
Encourage walking meetings
Shut down your laptop by 5.30PM and go home!
The list goes on, I think you get the idea. You don’t need to break any world records, small changes over time can lead to incredible results and that’s what we’re looking for.
Workplace Wellness Comes from the Top
Studies repeatedly show that a culture of wellness comes from the top. If employees see their manager heading off to the gym or for a run at lunch time, this tells them that theirs is a workplace where this activity is the norm. I follow an 8-step process when I’m developing a wellness programme for companies. The very first step in this process is “Committed Senior Leadership”. If the management team are not supporting and promoting wellness at the workplace then it significantly reduces the chances of programmes being successful.
The best example I’ve seen of a senior manager leading by example was from a company CEO that by his own account was not a pillar of health. Following a routine check-up, his doctor advised him that if he didn’t prioritise his health he wouldn’t be around for much longer. Rather than keep the news to himself, he went public and shared all in a blog post to the entire company. He also went public about his intention to exercise regularly at lunch time and welcomed others to join him, he pledged to make healthy options the norm in the company canteen and he brought in experts to talk to the staff about different aspects of health and wellness and built a programme of healthy activities around this. The positive ripple effect this had throughout the entire company was phenomenal; a real Corporation Transformation!
Lead by Example
Don’t wait for the wake up call. You can be the role model in your company. You don’t have to be the CEO or even a manager (although leaders are brilliant role models for their teams). How you behave, your actions and decisions can have a positive impact on your colleagues. There’s nothing stopping you introducing a walking group or a “no stairs Tuesday” or a healthy bake sale etc.
As you progress, don’t fall in to the trap of one-off talks and initiatives here and there. Think long term when it comes to workplace wellness. It takes at least six weeks to form a habit. Put in place programmes that have clear objectives and support structures for those participating. Target the majority and not the minority, wellness should always be inclusive.
Be the wellness champion at your workplace. Use Operation Transformation as the template to lead your organisation towards a Corporation Transformation.
Yours in health,
About the author:
Brian Crooke is a wellness consultant, speaker and trainer specialising in the auditing, development and delivery of workplace wellness programmes such as Corporation Transformation for Irish companies through his Office Worker Health business. He is also the founder of the Workplace Wellness Ireland community. In his spare time he is bringing free resistance training to every county and community in Ireland through his parkHIIT project.
Contact Brian to request a brochure for the “Corporation Transformation” programme for Irish businesses: firstname.lastname@example.org