How to Create a Culture of Health for Happy, Productive Employees
by Mike Esposito, President and CEO
Are you looking for ways to improve employee productivity and boost morale? Consider creating a culture of health in your dealership.
Many studies show the correlation between healthy employees and higher productivity. Research from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), Brigham Young University and the Center for Health Research at Healthways shows:
Employees who eat healthy are 25% more likely to have higher job performance
Employees who eat 5 or more servings of fruit and vegetables at least four times a week are 20% more likely to be more productive
Employees who exercise for at least 30 minutes, three times a week, are 15% more likely to have a higher job performance
Absenteeism is 27% lower for workers who eat healthy and exercise regularly
In addition to increased employee productivity, companies that offer wellness programs are able to negotiate better rates with their insurance providers.
From a personal standpoint, the employees at Auto/Mate have fully embraced a culture of health and root for one another’s goals and successes. I have seen first hand how this helps to strengthen our team atmosphere and attitudes of “anything is possible,” which also spills over to job performance.
A culture of health doesn’t just happen automatically. Management buy-in and involvement is a must to help organize (and sometimes fund) events.
Follow these recommendations to start building a culture of health in your dealership:
Organize Active Events
It’s easy to find local active events that are linked to a cause, whether it’s Walk for Alzheimer’s, The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, or 5K runs. Teams from Auto/Mate participate in the Workforce Challenge, a local running event that benefits youth health programs, and the Tour de Cure, a cycling event that benefits diabetes. On National Walk@Lunch Day, we organized two groups of walkers for a brisk 30-minute walk at lunch.
Promote employee involvement in events by sending out emails and posting flyers in the break or lunch room. Set a company goal of how many employees you’d like to participate or how much money you’d like to raise for the event.
It also helps if your dealership’s team has a T-shirt specially made for these events. The cost is small compared with the return in energy and goodwill that participating in these events generate among employees.
Start a Wellness Program
Once a month or once a quarter, bring in a local health professional to conduct a wellness workshop. At Auto/Mate, popular topics have been how to stop smoking and how to cope with and reduce stress.
Incent Employees to Reach Goals
If you have employees who are trying to stop smoking or lose weight, consider offering a small incentive when they reach their goal. This could be offering to pay for a gym membership for a year, a gift certificate to a grocery store or offering to pay their entry fee for a fun and active event.
Have Healthy Snacks Available
Do you have a vending machine filled with candy bars and chips? Consider replacing it with a vending machine that offers healthier choices, such as fresh fruit or granola bars. Or just make these types of snacks available in the employee break room.
Ditch the Birthday Cakes and Morning Donuts
Okay, I realize some employees may rebel at the thought of doing away with such time-honored traditions as donuts in the morning and birthday cakes on birthdays. But there are healthier choices available. How about once a month having a combined, “birthday lunch” for all employees with birthdays in that month? Have the lunch catered by a local food vendor that can accommodate requests for healthy fare.
Another idea is to contact a local food truck that offers healthy options. Have the truck park at your dealership on a weekend day. Both your employees and your customers will love it!
Health-Up Your Barbecues and Cook-Offs
Does your dealership occasionally host barbecues? Recruit several employees to make healthy salads and bring vegetarian or turkey burgers for these events. At Auto/Mate we host a chili cook-off competition among employees every year, and over the years the recipes have definitely trended towards healthy. Several employees now make vegetarian and turkey-based chilis that are delicious!
Install a Standing or Treadmill Desk
In dealerships, sitting at the desk all day isn’t an issue for many employees in sales and service. But for those employees who do sit all day, consider installing a treadmill or standing desk they can take turns using for certain tasks (great for phone calls!) or while on breaks.
Get Managers Involved
With all of the above recommendations, it’s highly recommended to have a principal and/or manager spearhead the events and set an example. First, it increases the participation rate of employees, and second, when managers don’t participate, it’s not exactly sending a “we’re all in this together” message to the employees.
The bottom line: Healthy employees are happier, more productive and will take better care of your customers. What tips do you have for creating a culture of health?