L to R, David D. Dagget of Daggett Shuler, Gayle Anderson of the Winston Salem Chamber of Commerce, Marlon Hunter of the Forsyth County Department of Public Health
Does it really matter what we eat? Does it matter how physically active we are? Does it matter how much time we take to recover from a stressful environment? Well, the good news is, we have tremendous power over our health, destiny and longevity. The majority of premature death and disability is preventable, with a healthy lifestyle. This according to a Global Burden of Disease Study,funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. No longer is the number one concern tobacco consumption. Its nutrition and lifestyles choices.
Oddly enough it’s not the medical community leading the charge to better nutrition and lifestyle, its individuals and more specific business leaders. Many employees take the lead from their employers; it’s only natural. They give employees direction and instruction and the employees follow. In addition to work ethics, some employees look up to their superiors on other personal levels, such as following in the footsteps of their bosses and the company executive staff when it comes to healthy behaviors. It is difficult to nail down the executive staff of every major and up-coming company, such as Google, Apple, and Microsoft, and determine what their own individual habits are.
However, many of these companies, whether it be these large corporations or smaller scale businesses, set an example for a healthy lifestyle in their company policies and practices. For example Winston Salem attorney and 27 times Ironman triathlete David D. Daggett states “I definitely believe in leadership by example and positive health and fitness helps create a high- performing workplace.” Daggett further says “we do a number of things in our office including incentives for health and fitness activities, bring in guest speakers on diet and exercise, guest speakers on motivation, and the first Wednesday of every month provide a healthy breakfast for the entire staff. Hopefully these initiatives create a positive impact on the health and habits of our team which also results in higher professional performance”
When choosing an employer, many individuals read about the potential benefits they will be awarded in the contract provided to them. If your company provides reimbursement for anything health related outside of your typical benefits, such as the purchase of a bike, the cost of a yoga class, a gym membership, in office massage therapy, etc., then it is safe to assume that the company’s top executive staff take healthy behaviors seriously, not just for themselves, but also for their staff. Some companies go as far as having a gym in their office, healthy options cantina and providing personal trainers to themselves and their staff at no charge. Winston Salem Chamber of Commerce President Gayle Anderson has a very vigorous walking routine, is a certified yoga instructor and encourages her employees to practice healthy lifestyles as well.
The Chamber “pays “$150 a year for them to use for a health club membership.” says Anderson.Knowing that employees endeavor to follow in the steps of top executive staff, many CEO’s and top staff members of organizations aim to set a good example, by promoting healthy eating, exercise, and offering incentives such as reimbursement for staff attempts to be healthy and exercise as well. Therefore, it can be argued, that the healthy behaviours of employers do get passed onto their employees.
Consider this illustration;Milo, the employee, and his superior, Jason. Milo is being groomed to take over his boss, Jason’s, position in the next five years. Given the nature of their business, Milo and Jason have become quite friendly, but still maintain the repertoire of employee and boss. In many ways, Milo looks up to Jason. He notices that Jason is making an effort towards healthy behaviour and in an attempt to have something in common with his friend and boss, he makes the same efforts. Not only does Jason’s behavior rub off on Milo, it sets a great example and gives the two of them even more reason to bond, as they will have this subject in common outside of work. As a result of Jason’s efforts, Milo has now taken up a healthy lifestyle by following the lead of his supervisor, Jason. Although this is an example, it is also a true story.
The purpose of telling this story is to demonstrate that friendships aside, the actions of the employers, be it their professional actions, or personal actions such as healthy behaviors, do rub off on employees. Therefore, any employer who can promote and encourage a healthy lifestyle through example and incentive is promoting a healthier lifestyle to their employees, their families, and the general public as a whole. To get a community wide perspective Forsyth County Department of Public Health Director Marlon Hunter says that he is very active physically and will often take a team member for walks that are in his words, “very fast.” As an employee benefit “We have a wellness program for all employees to participate in. The program includes health coaching and health screening. Additionally the program is incentivised by offering a deduction off of employee monthly insurance premiums.” So what do your leaders do to encourage healthy behaviors? To get the conversation started just simply ask.
Often smaller businesses are so focused on the bottom line they can overlook one of the most important factors that contribute to the literal health of the organization. Ask about bringing in healthy food like fruits and veggies as snack during meetings or inviting health promoting guest speakers as stated above. Consider having meetings where everyone stands or “Walking meetings” For more information about other healthy ideas please contact the 6th Sense Health and Wellness.