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Make employee wellbeing a priority: heart-healthy tips

Published by: LifeWorks,

As we hunched over our desks, chipped away at our task lists, and attended one meeting after another this past month, many of us overlooked the fact that February is National Heart Month. Instead, we concentrated on a much more popular heart-related national observance: Valentine’s Day.

But, when it comes to employee well-being, supporting and maintaining heart health is equally as important as exchanging heart-themed cards and candies. Especially when you consider the fact that cardiovascular disease remains the leading global cause of death, according to the American Heart Association, with nearly 801,000 deaths in the U.S. — that’s about one of every three deaths.

The good news is it’s not too late to make employees’ heart health a priority. When it comes to employee wellbeing, HR professionals should strive to be proactive, rather than reactive. In fact, that’s the foundation of what we, at LifeWorks, like to call superhuman resources.

In addition to addressing various aspects of employee well-being in accordance with a national health observance, HR professionals have a great opportunity to make heart health a priority year-round. After all, heart disease is easier to prevent than it is to treat.

So, inspired by National Heart Month, here are five ways to celebrate and support employees’ heart health every day:

1. Walking meetings

Year-round, find small ways to keep moving throughout the work day. A simple way to get everyone in the office involved is to ditch the boardroom for walking meetings — meetings that take place during a walk instead of while sitting in an office, coffee shop, etc.

The office walk-and-talk is a great way to get both the blood and ideas flowing. In fact, a 2015 study of 150 working adults led by Dr. Russell Clayton, assistant professor of management at Saint Leo University, found that those who participate in walking meetings are 5.25 percent more likely to report being creative at their jobs than those who do not.

What’s more, the study revealed that those who participate in walking meetings are also 8.5 percent more likely to report high levels of engagement. So, not only do walking meetings support heart health and overall employee well-being, they get the creative juices flowing. It’s a win-win.

2. Health fairs

The key to prevention is education — especially when it comes to employee well-being. In order to take a superhuman approach to employee heart health, consider hosting an annual health fair for employees and their families.

“Health fair” events can be fun and engaging!  You can include some hands-on activities that will educate employees on cardiovascular disease prevention, encourage them to engage in smoking cessation and weight loss programs and to try out stress management tools.  You can even present activities that include family members – always a good way to engage employees!

For instance, instead of providing informational pamphlets on stress management, bring in a masseuse for on-site chair massages or a yoga instructor for a quick lesson on meditation techniques employees can perform at their desk. The key here is to make health fairs something employees can look forward to and learn from and share with family members and even friends.

3. Cooking classes

When you have a million things on your plate, it can be tempting to grab for a quick frozen meal. But healthy eating doesn’t have to be time-consuming. And considering that losing just 5 percent of body weight can lower risks for developing cardiovascular disease, according to a recent study published in Cell Metabolism, healthy eating can be made accessible to everyone at work.

To show employees it doesn’t take a trained chef to whip up something that’s both tasty and nutritional, make your next team-building activity a healthy cooking class. Not only can cooking classes teach employees how to prepare quick, healthy meals, but also they serve as a fun way to boost workplace relationships. After all, the way to most people’s hearts is through food.

4. Year-round support

While walking meetings, health fairs, and cooking classes are all fun ways to approach employee well-being and heart health, the most important way to prevent heart-related health conditions is to provide year-round support.
One way to do this is through an employee assistance program (EAP). These programs boost employee well-being through individualized counseling, educational materials, wellness perks, and more.

When it comes to heart health, EAPs can also provide support for people recently returning to work after a heart-related issue, such as a stroke. The key here is to go beyond National Heart Month and make employees’ heart health a priority throughout the year. And EAPs can help you do just that.

5. Heart-related health observances

National Heart Month may be ending, but there are a few more heart-related health observances to get involved in throughout the year. So, mark your calendars:

  • National Nutrition Month – March
  • National Sleep Awareness Week – April 23-29, 2017
  • American Stroke Awareness Month – May
  • National High Blood Pressure Education Month – May
  • National Employee Health & Fitness Day – May 17, 2017
  • World Heart Day – September 29, 2017
  • National Wear Red Day (for women’s heart health) – February 2, 2018


How does your office plan to celebrate and support employee heart health year-round? Let us know!

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