My job is killing me. My job is boring. My job is making me sick. My job is making me fat. My job is making me depressed. My job is ruining my life. My job is killing my soul.
It’s amazing what the most popular searches are when you enter “my job is” into Google.
What’s even more striking is the number of results that come up. “My job is making me fat” reels in 56.4 million hits. “My job is making me sick” brings up 47.2 million. And “my job is killing me” gives 181 million hits, the clear winner.
None of these searches should really come as a surprise. America is really screwing the pooch right now as far as health goes, and the current workplace model isn’t doing anybody any good.
Well, except maybe a few micromanaging middle managers. They’re lovin’ it.
Most office workers are effectively chained to a desk throughout the work day. They’re bogged down with email. They deal with irksome coworkers, being underpaid and/or overworked, pointless meetings, domineering middle managers, cultures that suppress strengths…
…as well as harsh lighting, poor on-site nutrition options (if there are any), few chances to be active throughout the day, little opportunity to be outside in the sun, office plans that hurt productivity and lower backs, and the need to stare at a computer screen most of the day.
That’s a recipe for disaster.
Fortunately, there’s a way to avert all of that chaos, or at least most of it: bringing your company’s workplace into the 21st century.
How best to do this?
- Corporate wellness programs. With the Affordable Care Act launching in 2014, the number of companies launching wellness programs will be on the rise. These programs can do a great job of improving employee health, but they’re a significant undertaking. There are a number of critical steps in deploying a successful workplace wellness program, all of which are discussed here.
- Well-being initiatives for smaller companies. I’m a minimalist at heart. I don’t think many smaller companies need extensive technological apparatuses, health coaches, nutritionists, or any of that junk in order to foster employee well-being. It takes sound management, some health and activity changes, and respect for your fellows. That’s it. Oh, and maybe some spreadsheets, pens, and papers to help keep track of statistics.
- Employee health. We can’t have functioning companies without functioning employees. Physical, emotional, and mental health all tie together, so encouraging workers to adopt healthy habits both at work and at home is important. Encourage companies to adopt healthy habits, too, like better ergonomics and making time for physical activity during the day.
- Dropping manufacturing-era dogmas. Some workplace mantras and dogmas took hold during the United States’ manufacturing era. The standard eight-hour “stay at your station” work day is one of them. However, the U.S. now is largely a knowledge-driven economy, and many of these outdated dogmas need to be put to rest.
- Knowing the interplay of workplace health with societal health. Like it or not, the majority of Americans (indeed, in most Westernized nations) spend much of their waking hours and working lives behind a desk. This massive chunk of time – often a third or more of a day – can make or break long-term health and fitness, both on a personal and societal level.
- Government regulations. It’s an alphabet soup out there, folks. ADA, ADEA, ERISA, GINA, PPACA, HIPAA, COBRA, FMLA, FLSA? That’s just the beginning. Regulations on wellness programs, insurance and benefits, nondiscrimination, and confidential information is another part of maintaining a workplace in modern society.
- Effective management. How often does stress crop up because of micromanagement, heavy-handed superiors, or poisonous cultures espousing working far beyond overtime to be deemed “dedicated”? Organizational change is often necessary to beget true improvements in health and fitness. Finding ways to maintain and improve productivity is always a good thing, but should not come at the cost of employee wellbeing.
My ultimate goal? Helping ten million employees in America improve their health, and helping ten thousand companies change their workplace culture to embrace both health and a results-oriented workplace.