Create Your Corporate Health Identity

What is your company’s health identity? What is your focus in motivating collective behavior change? It could be, “At our company, we value health over everything.” When you declare that your workplace values the health of its employees, you grant employees permission to take the actions required to be healthy. You make it acceptable for an employee to take a walk break even if co-workers are keeping their nose to the grindstone.

Google is a great example of corporate identity. The company’s overarching philosophy is to “create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world.” It seems to be a success: Google is repeatedly named the best company to work for, and receives over two and a half million resumes each year.

From free meals to napping pods and free massages, Google strives to provide a happy environment for its employees that fosters productivity. All these perks aren’t viewed as luxuries but rather as good business. Google analyzes every action the company takes. For example, it found that if a new employee’s manager introduces themselves on their first day, the employee is more productive nine months later.

What if your company had managers introduce themselves to new employees and let them know that health is valued? That would surely set the tone for wellness as a priority.

Incorporate Mini Interventions Into Your Workplace

Don’t stop at talk, but walk the walk about your health identity. Create a physical workspace that supports your company’s identity. Google famously provides free food to its employees – three meals a days and unlimited snacks. However, Google noticed that employees were gaining weight, so they experimented with nudges, or small interventions that make it easier to make good choices. They started providing smaller plates, introduced a color-coded system for labeling foods based on nutrition content, and moved salad items to the front. And it worked! Simply moving M&M’s farther down the shelf led to drastic results: Google employees consumed three million fewer calories from M&M’s over a seven-week period.

Action Steps: Defining Wellness at Work

First, define your company’s health identity. Next, figure out what nudges you can initiate around your workplace to support that identity. Ideas include keeping fruit stocked in the kitchen, or offering a space where employees can take wellness breaks to stretch and perform light strengthening exercises. (You can provide equipment, such as exercise bands, and post sample exercises.)

Keep your company’s wellness identity at the forefront, and build your workplace so that your employees can act on it.