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The average American spends most of their waking hours at the office. In many industries, most of these hours are spent sitting down, in a single stationary position, breathing in stale air and eating ‘convenience’ or fast food lunches. Is it any wonder that so many Americans are unhealthy?

Business owners and managers know that one of the keys to a productive workplace is happy employees. And if your employees are healthy, active and feel good, they are more likely to be happy and contribute more to the overall success of the company.

Here at Vision Offices, we’ve come up with five things you can do to create a healthier, more productive environment for you and your staff:

Encourage Exercise.
This may be the single most important step you can take. If your office is an executive suite and you have a gym or workout room accessible, encourage your employees to take advantage of it. See if your contracted health insurance company offers discounts for healthy individuals and promote this with your staff. Try to organize a healthy living “task force” team to set up regular group workout sessions, organize races or hold contests. To up the motivation ante, offer simple incentives for cycling to work, taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a lunchtime walk. The more you can get your employees moving, the healthier they will be.

Invest in ergonomic furniture.
Ailments like back pain and carpal tunnel syndrome are fairly common in the office environment – and they can steal your staff’s joy pretty quickly. It’s important to purchase high quality, ergonomically designed furniture to properly support long periods of sitting. Chairs, keyboards, desks and even phones are now being designed with employee comfort in mind, and they can make a big difference in the overall health of your office. Alternative options like sit-stand desks and medicine balls can also help employees feel comfortable and well-supported at work.

Let in some clean air.
If your office has windows, use them! As long as it is comfortable outside, crack some windows (or even the front office door) to let in some fresh air and provide some circulation. Live indoor plants can also do wonders for eliminating indoor air pollution and purifying the air. Underfloor HVAC systems are ideal, but even traditionally designed office spaces can benefit from letting the fresh air in.

Provide healthy lunch options.
Slowly but surely, café’s and cafeterias are serving healthier options for lunch. But what if your workplace doesn’t have fresh food available? See if you can set up a deal or coupon schedule with local healthy restaurants and keep a list with phone numbers and addresses in the break room. Make sure your office has a refrigerator and microwave so that employees can bring their own snacks and lunches instead of ordering fast food. Encourage employees to bring in healthy snacks for office celebrations (like fruit or whole grains) instead of donuts and cake. Hire catering companies that offer healthy alternatives to popular snacks and lunches. Some offices even start a “biggest loser” competition as a way to keep employees accountable for healthy eating and exercising.

Follow the “If you’re sick, stay home” policy.
When flu and cold season starts, it can become almost impossible to shake if sick people continue to come to the office. Make sure you are providing adequate sick leave for your employees so that they can feel comfortable with staying home when contagious. Not only does coming to work sick spread germs and potentially infect more employees, sick employees are less productive and more likely to be injured on the job. Communicate to your staff that if they are sick – to stay home.

These measures may require more time, money and energy upfront but too often companies focus on the short-term costs and fail to recognize the long-term benefits of a healthy productive staff.

At Vision Offices, we value healthy workspaces and strive to provide options like healthy lunch choices, a fitness center and even steam rooms at our Scottsdale executive suites. When you’ve got employees that are healthy and working at their optimum performance, you’ll have a positive work culture and a business that runs at full potential.

photo credit: http://flic.kr/p/deTPkW