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How employers can use wellbeing calendar dates to help set their employees on the path to a healthier 2020

Advice and top tips

How employers can use wellbeing calendar dates to help set their employees on the path to a healthier 2020

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Every new year brings with it a wealth of opportunities to a promote a well workforce, thanks to the multitude of health and wellbeing awareness days dotted throughout the year.

By tapping into these awareness days and exploiting opportunities to encourage healthier living, companies can address the health risks of their employee population in a proactive, structured and consistent way.

Here, we outline just some of the ways that companies can take advantage of health and awareness months, weeks and days and set their employees on the path to a healthier 2020.

JANUARY   

National Obesity Awareness Week

Obesity Awareness Week is a New Year’s resolution with its sights set on improving the nation’s health, through healthier diets and exercise.

After an indulgent Christmas, employees may be more receptive to making positive changes to their lifestyle.

With any New Year’s Resolution, small steps are key to long-term success.  Companies can give employees the tools to help them make small changes to their diet and exercise regime.  This will give employees ownership of their own health, backed up by some gentle employer encouragement, making it more likely for healthier habits to be formed.

Cooking classes, where employees can be shown ways to make their favourite meals healthier, providing healthy snack alternatives in the office, and offering easy access to exercise that fits around employees’ schedule, such as walking clubs and on site group classes, are all simple but effective options.

FEBRUARY

Time to Talk Day

The aim of Time to Talk Day is to challenge the mental health stigma and encourage everyone to be more open about mental health.

This year, the campaign is using the popular game ‘Would you rather?’ to help break the ice and get the conversation flowing.

Companies can nod to this by doing simple games in the office to open up the lines of communication and normalise the issue of mental ill-health.  If assigned, mental health champions could run activities throughout the day, such as a mental health pub quiz and mental health myth buster game.  Time for Change, which spearheads Time for Talk Day, have helpful resources on their website.

MARCH

No Smoking Day

This well-established awareness day has been running for more than 35 years and is intended to help smokers who want to quit smoking.

Previous research conducted by GfK NOP suggested that one in 10 smokers quit on No Smoking Day.

Companies can support their workers by offering access to and actively promoting smoking cessation courses.  In the run-up to the awareness day, companies can email daily tips on how to stop smoking, which can be found on the NHS website, and outlining the health benefits of quitting.

Employers could help workers kick the habit of taking smoking breaks by offering healthier alternative uses of time, such as office ‘exercise snacking’ – short bouts of exercise that are performed twice a day – and creating pop-up relaxation zones.

APRIL

Stress Awareness Month

Stress Awareness Month aims to increase public awareness about both the causes and cures for the modern stress epidemic.

According to the Mental health Foundation, 74% of UK adults have felt so stressed at some point over the last year they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope.

Stress has also been identified as the most prevalent workplace health issue for today’s employers, according to our Global Benefits Attitudes Survey (GBAS).

This month is a good opportunity for companies to highlight the impact of stress, the importance of stress management and the options available to employees to alleviate stress.  Companies could use communications to outline the most common signs of stress, encourage employees to speak out if they are stressed, and promote the tools that they have at their disposal to manage their own stress levels.

This could be meditation apps, EAPs, text-based counselling services, self-help CBT apps or resilience-based training.

MAY

National Walking Month

With recognised initiatives, such as Walk to Work Week, National Walking Month gives companies ample opportunity to encourage employees to be more active, in an accessible way.

As well as participating in Walk to Work Week, which could include an incentive, such as a competition to win walking boots or fitbit, companies could send out regular communications about the benefits of increasing their step count, establish a lunchtime walking group and compile a guide to the best walking routes close to work and home.

JUNE

British Heart Week

Healthy hearts take centre stage during June and companies can follow suit.

There are around 7.4 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases in the UK, and these diseases cost the UK economy an estimated to be £19 billion each year, according to the British Heart Foundation.

There are several areas that companies can focus on to help improve the heart health of their staff, namely nutrition, physical activity and smoking.

Companies can try and tackle ‘cake culture’ in the office and help employees stave away from reaching for sugary or salty snacks by providing healthier snacks on the office floor and staff room, such as fruit and veg.

They can also regularly communicate nutritional advice on the right foods to be eating to maintain a healthy heart, such as oily fish and wholegrains.

Sedentary lifestyles are also an issue for heart health, so helping workers to incorporate activity into the working day may be beneficial.  This can be anything from providing standing desks and running pedometer challenges, to hosting active social events, such as fun runs.  Companies may also wish to actively promote smoking cessation courses.

Companies can drive home the importance of healthy hearts by providing key stats on the nation’s heart health in communications, carry out blood pressure checks in the reception and look into providing CPR training for staff.

JULY

Health Information Week

This campaign aims to improve access to health information, coordinated by local authorities, public libraries, the NHS, the voluntary sector and advice centres.

Companies can plan their own Health Information Week, perhaps running an email campaign with a health theme for each day of the week, from stress to alcohol, highlighting key facts and tips relating to each issue and outlining the relevant workplace benefits and sources of support.

AUGUST

Cycle to Work Day

The UK’s biggest cycle commuting event, Cycle to Work Day, will see thousands of workers pedal to and from the office in the summer.

As well as the positive environmental impact, the day gets people to think about their activity levels and how they can build exercise into their normal working day.

Employers can take part in the initiative by visiting the Cyclescheme website, or run their own onsite activities.  For example, a competition could be held for participants in which they could be in with a chance of winning a bike, or a cycleathon could be held in the reception area to raise money for a chosen charity.

The day could be a good opportunity for companies to promote the government’s Cyclescheme or their own cycle-to-work initiative, should they have one, so that more commuters can make the long-term swap to two wheels, and at the same time improve their overall health.

SEPTEMBER

National Fitness Day

National Fitness Day highlights the role physical activity plays in staying happy and healthy.

Employers have many options when it comes to promoting National Fitness Day, and activities can be adapted to suit all fitness levels.

Employers can try and involve as many workers as possible by hosting a range of group activities, from sponsored walks, fun runs, ‘plank-offs’ challenges, office yoga classes, treadmill challenges, high street HIIT classes and dance-offs.

It could also be an opportunity to encourage employees to kick-start their own fitness journey by bringing in professionals, such as personal trainers, for workshops or consultations on the day, or running a discounted gym membership offer.

OCTOBER

National Work Life Week

National Work Life Week is an opportunity for both employers and employees to focus on wellbeing at work and work-life balance.

Employers can use communications to highlight the importance of a work-life balance, as well as outline the signs of burnout and provide information on what employees should do if they are struggling to juggle work and home life.

Managers could be encouraged to display healthy behaviours, such as leaving work on time and not replying to emails outside of working hours.

Activities can be held to promote work-life balance, such as running fun quizzes and meditation exercises to encourage workers to take breaks and holding team lunches.  Workplace benefits, such as gym memberships and dance classes, can also be promoted during this week.  The company may also choose to showcase their flexible working policies and practices.

NOVEMBER

Alcohol Awareness Week

Alcohol Awareness Week is a chance to drive a conversation about alcohol and signpost those who need help to the support they need.

Companies may take the opportunity to hold alcohol awareness courses, which can highlight the confidential sources of support that are available to those worried about their alcohol intake or who need help to stop.

It can also be a chance to change the culture around alcohol and workplace socialising.

Companies could look to introduce healthier alternatives to social events that involve alcohol, such as swapping the company-funded pub nights for sporting events, such as five-a-side football, baking challenges, or book clubs.

DECEMBER

More than Christmas Jumper Day

Christmas Jumper Day is a national fundraising campaign to raise money for Save the Children.

The day is an opportunity to bring employees together and promote social wellbeing in the workplace.

Employees have a shared goal to raise money for a cause, while carrying out fun group activities, which can bring with it a sense of belonging and social inclusion.

December can be a difficult time when it comes to feelings of loneliness and isolation so employers can choose to continue this theme of social wellbeing by planning activities for throughout the month, such as Christmas lunches where everyone contributes a dish, Christmas quizzes or games and office carol singing.

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