10 Tips for Crafting a Fit & Healthy Workplace

Herosmyth Staff
min read
May 22nd, 2018

Let's face it: your company has a culture whether you do something about it or not.

That’s why entrepreneurs need to assess their workplace to determine if it’s up to par—after all, a business’s company culture directly reflects on the owner, their business, employees, reputation, customer service, and more.

Some brands have a world-renowned culture that’s cited in numerous case studies, celebrated in famous motivational talks, and seems to be mentioned all over the place, but let’s be honest for a moment here: it takes a lot of work to get to that point, and not every brand is quite there yet.

Maybe you just started a company, or maybe your existing business needs a total revamp due to issues like disengaged employees, low morale, high healthcare costs, and so on. The good news is: once you identify that your brand’s culture needs some work, the hardest part is over!

Even though you may not know what to do or where to even start, you’re already ahead of the competition if you’re:

  1. Paying attention to where your company culture currently stands
  2. Identifying what’s not working

You may be thinking, “well, totally changing the company culture sounds expensive and pretty abstract…” But it’s all in the little things, and improving your brand’s culture can mean making a lot of small adjustments in order to get a big final result.

group of happy people with their fists in the air

The best way to turn a bad company culture around is to focus on a key contributor to the issue: health. After all, happy, healthy employees make happy customers, right? Simply making sure that your employees are physically, mentally, and emotionally balanced makes a world of a difference, and we’ll go over the numerous positive outcomes of creating a healthy workplace in just a bit.

Big brands have it easy: they often have the budget and resources to provide employees with a full-blown wellness program, or a formal program launched by employers to improve the health of their employees. This typically includes addiction and health management programs, fitness competitions, educational seminars, and health screenings, among other things. Back in the 90’s, Google launched the original wellness program for its own team, and the trend spread like wildfire among bigger brands that can support it.

So why don’t smaller brands take the reins on molding their culture into the ideal more often? It’s almost too easy to cite reasons for why it’s more hassle than it’s worth: budget issues, being too busy or understaffed to do something big about it, believing it’s “too late” in the business’s development to change, and having a remote team are all common excuses for not actively working toward a great company culture.

Perhaps you’re part of the discouraged group of business owners who have tried and not quite succeeded at improving your company’s culture. If you’ve tried to organize outside-of-work healthy activities for your team and had a low turnout—or even just tried surveying your team on health initiatives with no interest as a result—this article is for you.

Don’t give up on your company culture. Creating a great one doesn’t have to be big, fancy, expensive, flashy, or time-consuming whatsoever; all it takes is sincerity, creativity, and leadership. This article will help you craft a healthy company culture by suggesting the whole spectrum of healthy habits that can make a difference, from the lowest cost to the highest; lowest effort to maximum involvement.

Remember: if you put your mind to it, anything is possible, and having a healthy company is no exception.

Why focus on creating a healthier company anyway?

These are the most common benefits that brands get from improving their employees’ health:

  • Lowers the team’s health risks and injury frequency
  • Reduces the overall cost of healthcare for your company
  • Improves productivity and company morale
  • Lowers rates of absenteeism due to improving mental health, reducing stress, giving employees the ability to refuel and be ready to come to work more often and more mentally prepared, and eliminating many reasons to otherwise take sick leave
  • Helps your brand reputation as well as employee recruitment and retention—it makes a company look good from a customer and potential employee perspective to have a happy team
  • Improves inter-employee relations, promotes a sense of community, increases effective teamwork and therefore productivity, and is overall a great bonding opportunity by creating a sense of “we’re all in this together” 
  • Increases employee satisfaction in general: their life, relationships, health, perception of self, career passion, and more


And now, the moment you’ve been waiting for...

Our top 10 tips on crafting a healthy workplace

Here’s how to take action and transform your company and workplace for the better:

1. Do walking meetings

man and woman doing a walking meeting

This one requires only two things: people and space. Instead of sitting in the office or at a conference room for team meetings, take the lead on walking while you talk instead. It doesn’t require a budget to stroll around the area outside of your office (or even do some laps indoors), and it’s a great way to get some air and sunshine, stretch out the legs, and do some comfortable cardio exercise while carrying on with business as usual.

If you absolutely don’t have the luxury of space, standing during meetings is a good backup.

2. Opt for team workouts over coffee

Zofia and Katie from Ascend doing planks together

You know that dreaded afternoon slump where everyone looks ready to drop and take a nap? Instead, consider dropping and doing 10 pushups, crunches, jumping jacks, or some other quick exercise that will get the blood pumping and liven up the afternoon in an instant. (As you can see from the photo, we Ascenders are big fans of planking.)

This idea is also completely free, and it really nails the “we’re in this together” sentiment by having employees, managers, and others all come together and sweat over the same exercises. If some friendly competition spurs from that one guy in your office who claims he can do the most pushups, embrace it—adding an element of fun makes working out that much easier.

3. Do a company-wide step challenge

man wearing a fitness tracker watch

A little dose of healthy competition works wonders: consider launching an internal contest to see who in your company can get the most steps in a defined period of time. Luckily, there are plenty of free apps that can help with tracking the activity, and providing a prize will gamify the whole thing to increase incentive to be the most active. Not only will you encourage your team to get moving, but it sets the groundwork for maintaining an active lifestyle for the long term.

4. Take a hike

the Ascend team hiking in Three Sisters Park in Evergreen Colorado

At Ascend, we are lucky to be located in Denver, Colorado, right by the great Rocky Mountains, so going on a company hike means getting in a car and stepping foot on the trailhead a mere half hour later. (As you can see from the photo, the great outdoors are an excellent place for an Ascend outing.) Though not every company has it so easy, there are always parks, forest preserves, beaches, trails, and other natural landscapes that make for a great company getaway.

When your team is stuck in a rut or you can sense that morale is dipping, consider treating the whole team to a hike in order to get away from the usual scenery, allow teammates to bond over non-work-related topics, and generally grow closer together by enjoying the outdoors as a team. Realistically, few employees hang out together on their days off, so doing an outing allows people to get to know each other better and feel more comfortable with each other at work, which can improve inter-employee relations, communication, team efficiency, and much more.

5. Offer healthier snacks

a spread of healthy snacks

If you can step up your snack game and offer healthy alternatives to things like chips and donuts, everyone benefits. Sure, the junk food junkies may fret, but oftentimes, people will eat what the company sets out for them to grab. If your company offers fruit, veggies, nuts, and other more nutritious options, you can ensure that your employees are getting better fuel that will help them perform better on the job. You are what you eat, right?

As an added bonus, healthy snacks feel fancier without breaking the bank, so you get to look like the cool boss who pampers her employees with fresh fruit instead of just getting the cheap mega-pack of chips from Costco.

6. Accommodate bike commuters

commuter bike racks

Biking to work is a great way for employees to be healthy, but many people get discouraged from doing so due to working in a non-bike-friendly environment. If your company is located in a bikeable city, especially if it’s one of the most bikeable cities in the US, consider doing what you can to make employees feel like biking to work is a viable option.

On the fancy side of the spectrum, you could add a shower to the bathroom so that they can feel fresh post-ride; on the low-budget side, setting up a bike rack outside of or within the office helps with safe storage.

Some companies can dedicate a whole bathroom to bike commuters or an in-office storage to keep their precious vehicle safe, but something as small as a bike rack is still better than nothing.

7. Redesign your office layout to encourage movement

office with open floor plan and ping pong table

This is easier to accomplish with an open floor plan, but even little adjustments can have a positive impact on employee health. For instance, simply moving the snack area to a far end of the office will get employees off their chairs and walking over to get some food, stretching their legs as a result. It also reduces distracted snacking—having food at arm’s reach means it’s easier to keep on distractedly grabbing handfuls than when you consciously have to get up and walk over every time you want more snacks.

If possible, encourage your employees to utilize the stairs over the elevator (unless you’re located on the 50th floor, of course)—personally, I find doing a few stairs “laps” works wonders when I’m starting to doze off at my desk. Increase exercise while potentially decreasing caffeine-related costs? Sounds like a win-win.

Perhaps most difficult-yet-impactful, provide your employees with standing desks so that they can opt to take charge of their own health and have a healthier work posture. There are cardboard standing desks out there that take cost factor out of the equation, but if you have the budget to go big with it, providing employees with high-quality adjustable desks gives them the power to sit or stand whenever they want to—or without you nagging them to be healthier.

8. Bring a trainer on-site for special occasions

group of people working out with a fitness instructor

On especially busy or high-stress weeks, consider bringing in a yoga instructor or other fitness coach for a company-wide session. Of course, fewer employees will show up if you charge for the session or host during odd hours, but those are the limitations of having a small business.

If possible, however, a quick fitness sesh during lunch will work wonders for improving the team’s motivation, alertness, and clarity, and can combat stress as well. Aside from that, it shows your team that you care about them and their well-being, so you get brownie points for being the cool boss who provides the company with a free workout.

9. Sponsor a local fitness event

marathon finish line with sponsor logos

Becoming a sponsor for a local activity, such as a 5K, marathon, bike club, obstacle course, or other active community events and then getting your employees to participate is truly a win: you get some brand awareness for being a sponsor and your people get to have fun while being healthy. There are plenty of PR opportunities, too, as it makes your brand look good to help provide a fun and community-building activity for all of the people living in your area, especially if some participants also happen to be your ideal customers.

10. offer local gym discounts or memberships

woman working out at a gym

Okay, this is the final tip and likely the most expensive, but if your brand can provide employees with a fitness membership or discount as a benefit, you’re able to make a long-term impact on your employees’ health. Many people don’t work out because the gym’s too expensive, they don’t have the space, equipment, or motivation to do it at home, and there aren’t enough convenient alternatives. If your office is located near a gym of any sorts, consider encouraging employees to frequent it (bonus: join them!) by covering some or all of the cost of going there.

A positive side effect may be that your employees form stronger bonds from going to work out together, which will in turn improve teamwork and productivity, too.

The Bottom Line

The benefits of having a healthier team are endless, and now you hopefully have gained an idea of how to start implementing small changes to work toward a larger goal of having an overall healthier team and company in general.

Where should you go from here?
Start creating a plan to implement healthier habits at work—a great starting point is coming up with a list of feasible ideas and ranking them by lowest cost and effort to find what is realistic for your brand.

To check out some extra tips and get inspired by real-world examples, read our small business company culture article. Say you have a relatively active and fit team, but you can still feel the stress in the room—you’ll find some non-health-focused tips over there that could still lead to effective de-stressing.

Finally, if you’re all pumped up from this article and want to go big with it, feel free to contact us to launch a campaign around a health initiative. After all, building a whole campaign around your company’s health is a great way to improve your brand awareness, build a positive reputation in general, and make sure your employees are aware of how serious you are about implementing a positive change.