Keeping Employees Happy and Healthy

I was at the store a couple of days ago and was in shock that they were already playing Christmas music. Halloween has barely blown past us and we’ve skipped ahead two months! Its official, the holidays are here. As are the potlucks, candy, cakes, eggnogs. This time of year also brings — baking, cooking, celebrating — and tons of sugar, calories, and fat. My waistline is expanding just thinking about all those goodies and events already tentatively blocked on  both my work and personal calendars.

Keeping Employees Happy and Healthy

Will power is all about the individual but I think that we can help out so that there are not as many“distractions.” Now normally I would write something like this one of my other blogs — but the wellness and health of our employees is to the benefit of both our employees and company. There is an opportunity to be leaders in this for your workplace. So the question is, how do you plan to celebrate without all the bad tempting stuff that people expect to see at events? Well,  I’ve got a couple of suggestions.

First, make it about an event/cause and not about food. Instead of having an event where you sit around and eat, plan an event that you can focus on something else. Perhaps a volunteer event where you are shopping and wrapping presents, singing holiday music, making crafts for a senior home, or maybe even making crafts with kids in an orphanage. The ideas are endless once you prime the pump. Think about events that help commemorate the season, promote team building, and focuses on a cause and less on just sitting around and eating.

But let’s face it, sitting around and eating is kinda what makes the holidays fun. The holidays for me is about baking. I pull out all the cookbooks, cookie cutters, the rolling pans and I fit 12 months worth of baking into about 6 weeks. I don’t need all that sugar around me — so I bake it and give it to others. Great for me — I can get the satisfaction of baking and giving it away means that I’m not eating it. This year, I think I can do better than pushing my sugary concoctions off to my neighbors and work colleagues. So I’m baking healthier options. I’ve replaced some of traditional cookies and recipes that grew up with and swapping them with substitutions or new holiday favorites that are easier on the scale and waistline. I still plan to make some of the traditional stuff for a special occasion, but just my favorites and the ones that are really special to me instead of a whole spread. I’m also including different options in the food that I bring or order. I bought these great lettuce wraps for an after-hours HR event I did last week and they were a BIG hit and I included some salads that rich in texture and flavors. The attendees loved it!  Healthy doesn’t have to be boring rabbit food. Make it fun and interesting and if you don’t know how, partner with those who do. It helps to change the types of choices that are available — and if we all keep that in mind it makes a difference in what we bring to an event or what we select to eat if there are more choices. If I bring in butter cookies and  baked apples — and you choose the butter cookies — that’s on you, not me. 🙂

You choose the butter cookies — who can blame you,  they are DELICIOUS! Why not find ways to increase your physical activity during the holiday time? Involve your colleagues or neighbors. Try a “WOG.” A clever little event that one of my co-workers has put on our calendars — it’s a time to “walk or jog” to get us a little more active. That same colleague also has put a giant bag of M&M’s on her desk for us to all share. Cruel, maybe, but motivation and incentive that if we dip into the goodies, we should make it to the “WOG,” and if you can’t go with your group, then make the time to do it on your own. Plus I find the more active I am, the less I want the bad stuff anyways. Some other ideas:  have walking meetings, considering working standing up, or sign up for a charity fun walk or run, maybe even train together for it (depending on where you are this may be an option – I’m in central Texas, so this is great running weather). Want to take it a step further? If you are comfortable with the idea,  do a wellness challenge and start keeping track of your weight and measurements — if the numbers start to go up you know that you’ve indulged too much and need to change your behaviors. Knowing you’re heading in the wrong direction is half the battle.

Hopefully this gives you some motivation and ideas of how to look at the holiday time in a different light and better prepare yourself, your team, and even your family. Get a handle on how to manage the food and extra calories of the season — so that you’re not having the discussion in January of finding ways to take off the extra weight that put on. Band together and battle the holiday bulge.

What kinds of things are you trying with your co-workers, family, and neighbors to stave off the extra holiday pounds?

Posted in

Andrea Devers

Andrea is an HR technologist and change management expert. She’s has built her career in global HR Compliance, HR process improvement, and shared services across all functions of HR. Connect with Andrea.

Reader Interactions


  1. Julia says

    Great suggestions, Andrea! The holidays are definitely a hard time to think about wellness when so many delicious temptations are around the office. One way that has worked for my company is offering incentives for walking. Each employee gets a pedometer to track their steps every week and those who meet or exceed their step goals are rewarded with points they can redeem for various rewards. Points-based programs are great for promoting wellness because participants are rewarded with the most meaningful gift, the gift of choice! Merchandise, gift cards, and experiential rewards are great at motivating behavior.

    • Andrea Devers says

      That is a GREAT idea Julia! I love it — putting a little incentive on a program can be a great motivator and help to create some good behaviors.



Pin It on Pinterest