4 Tips for a Heart-Healthy Workplace This February and Year Round

Do you agree, employees are the heart of a company?

You spend hours with employees each day, week, month, and year.  They become not only your employees but someone you develop strong, healthy relationships with.  You learn about their family, hobbies, likes, and dislikes.  You respect them and what they do for you and the company.  You are happy that they are such loyal and productive people. 

But are you taking care of them the best way you can? 

An estimated 1.6 million Canadians are living with heart disease or the effects of a stroke.  Much of this is preventable.  If it is not, can be quite costly for you.  High blood pressure can cost around $518 per year, per employee.  Cardiovascular disease costs employers an extra $1100 each year in lost productivity.  It is in fact, the costliest disease for employers.

About half of people have high blood pressure, cholesterol or are smokers which are key risk factors for heart disease.  Other lifestyle choices can also increase a person’s risk such as obesity, diet, inactivity, and alcohol use.

February is heart month.  Empower your employees to reduce the impacts with prevention and support!

Policies, Prevention and Support

Workplace policies affect employee behaviour and can have a positive impact on all employees. 

Healthy Eating

Workplace policies can require or encourage nutritious eating by providing healthy foods at meetings.  Workplaces can also put healthier snacks in vending machines, bring in a dietician, and encourage employees to take breaks to eat lunch.  This does not only contribute to good heart health but also keeps workers productive and energized for their workday.   

Smoke-free Workplaces

Workplace policies for all types of tobacco are effective strategies to reduce employees’ exposure to second-hand smoke.  These policies should help smokers feel supported instead of judged, for example providing smoking cessation programs.  The aim will be to make it more likely for them to quit, or at the very least, cut back.

Get Employees Active

Workplace policies can create an environment or culture of health.  Exercise is good for the whole body.  Promote walking meetings, offer onsite or gym memberships, provide bicycle parking, and bring in someone to do yoga class.  Policies can also provide employees with flex time to allow them to engage in these activities before or after work. 

Education and Skill-building

Health insurance providers usually have a variety of free resources such as posters, brochures, or other educational materials.  If these are not available through your insurance provider, local health organizations can often provide these free of charge too.  These organizations can also provide speakers to do lunch and learns.  Health screenings can be lifesaving though.  Send out reminders or host onsite screenings at your workplace.

As you can see, these preventions and supports do not have to cost a lot!  Little to no dedicated budget is required.  Health departments, hospitals, and non-profits can be great resources. 

February is here, so don’t delay in planning your heart month activities! 

But don’t stop there, make it a year-round promotion!

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