The state of healthcare in this nation has been a hot button issue for decades. Not a month goes by that our Leadership Reviews highlight the critical nature of healthcare for our employees. Healthcare is the second largest expense for a team behind salary so it’s no wonder that corporate culture will do anything to drive down these costs. I don’t believe in lobbyists. I don’t believe that the government will be able to get anything done.
If I’ve learned anything in my career it is that change comes from the individual and it happens on a microscale. I want to see better health outcomes from my team and I know that as leaders, we’re the ones who can make that happen. So how did I do it? How did my team become the healthiest in the organization (with cost savings of 15% year-over-year)?
It starts with food. The old standby of coffee and donuts needed to go immediately. People don’t truly realize the power of situation suggestion until they’re sitting next to box of a dozen freshly glazed donuts. I had see too many hard bodies turn to play-doh after a few years in a team that relied on coffee and donuts for meetings. I did away with this immediately by having a list of preferred caterers for meetings. Goodbye coffee and donuts, hello Green Tea and Cottage Cheese samples. There was undoubted backlash but it is important to understand that it was never mandatory that meetings order from our preferred caterers. These were helpful guidelines that finally gave people a healthy alternative they may not have considered otherwise.
Once the food culture adapts you can then start thinking out of the box with solutions to longer term health issues. As I’ve explained in the past involving families is the key to creating an overall positive work environment. As our little ones develop over the years they bring along germs and illness that can greatly impact their parent’s well-being. More than this, as our kids spend a greater amount of time in front of screens there is the potential for them to develop poor lifestyle habits. This is one area where leading by example is the best bet for ensuring long term health. I developed an ingenious solution to this years ago. Once every two months I have all of my team’s kids over to our house for a playdate with our family. This has benefits on multiple levels. It builds our camaraderie as a broader group and it allows children at their most impressionable ages to learn from a good example of hygiene and nutrition.
Some expenses are just unavoidable. As an avid outdoorswoman I know how unexpected a sprained ankle can be and there’s no telling what kind of repeated stress injuries will crop up from poor posture. This was an issue I knew all too well as I had experienced lower back issues from early in my career when posture was neglected for the sake of driving results. When things were at their worst I remember pushing away from my desk and going immediately into the Cat Pose. My deskmates were shocked. What compelled someone to just break out into yoga during the workday (this was back before there were as many yoga studios as there are Starbucks). Since that day ‘Spontaneous Yoga’ has been a staple of my daily walkthroughs with my team. I find an aisle, strike a pose and the whole team stops what they’re doing and joins in! It builds morale, keeps us limber, and cuts down on physical therapy visits!
These are little suggestions that can help inspire your next team activity. Some expenses will never truly go away but with a little creativity there’re ways to keep things in check. I still don’t have a good solution for dental issues. Maybe America can make the snaggletooth sexy again? Put ideas in the comments!