The HR Juggler

Healthy Lifestyle: Some Starting Points

Posted on: November 29, 2010

This morning @theHRD wrote a thought-provoking article highlighting the dangers of obesity, the effect it will have on society and issuing a call to action to busineses to better educate and support staff.  His excellent and inspiring article can be found here

I’m always a fan of sharing practical ideas and implementations and I wanted to start the ball rolling with highlighting some of the initiatives from my organisation to promote a healthier lifestyle.  Believe me, there lots of additional things that we could and should be doing and I can take little in the way of personal credit for most of these; however I strongly believe that it is in sharing ideas and bset practice that we collectively raise our game.

So, here goes –

1) Fruit.  For the last three years, in perhaps some of the most difficult economic circumstances, we have taken a delivery twice a week of fruit and made it freely available to staff.  Needless to say, people LOVE this and it is relatively inexpensive for the benefit it brings!

2) Benefits. As well as the usual corporate gym memberships, we also offer a healthy lifestyle subsidy of £250 against receipts every 12 months for those members of staff whose gyms are not covered in the corporate deals, or who regularly undertake an organised exercise class

3) Flexible lunch hours. Agreed individually with line managers, lunch hours can be flexed up to 2 hours to enable staff to undertake exercise during this time

4) Weightwatchers. Driven by demand, we have regularly had Weightwatchers classes on-site during lunch-times.  They are subsidised up to 50% by the company and have been really successful (I lost one and a half stone myself through it a couple of years ago!)

5) Exercise classes on site.  We have subsidised yoga classes each week, taking place during lunch hours.

6) Corporate fun runs. The chief exec of Informa dresses up as a banana once a year and challenges employees and their families to ‘Beat the Banana’

Thee are mostly just starting points and I am sure there are also many other initiatives that we could take up.  The two most powerful forces behind these ideas have been an active and committed staff board and CEOs on a divisional and corporate level who are willing to take the lead and drive these initiatives from the top.

I’d love to hear about what you do in your organisations too.

5 Responses to "Healthy Lifestyle: Some Starting Points"

allison, this is great stuff. sounds like you’re doing things to make it fun and feasible to be healthy. i take it you’re in the UK? if so, can you talk to why you’re company’s interested in this, as so many believe wellness is a peculiarly american thing to do.

since you’re interested in learning with others, i wanted to point you to two places. one is the employee wellness network, formed by bob merberg (@wellwork). the URL is: the other is a monthly tweet chat that i started with greg matthews (@chimoose) on workplace wellness. @co_health is our twitter account and we share information using the #co_health hashtag. we have a broad, open community, representing companies, consultancies and health organizations.


Hi Fran

Thanks for commenting and also giving your information – looks interesting stuff! Yes I am UK based, but am luck enough to work for a very forward-thinking and people-focussed CEO, who is keen to do things to support staff.

Great to hear from you, I will check your colleagues out too!

Great ideas Alison. I remember the Banana Race at Informa from my days at ESI – great fun and involvement from all levels of the organisation.

In addition to corporate gym membership, we also offer an on-site gym at a discounted rate, which employees are free to use whenever they want. The flexibility allows for people to have a good daily work-life balance.

We also sponsor the British Heart Foundation race in Canary Wharf as well as the Dragon Boat Race, amongst other events globally. It generates a buzz amongst the whole work population (of all ages and sizes) and the majority end up taking up running and/or other sports.

The XYZ Network organises all sorts of events to promote well being, sport and charity, with corporate Decathlons in Aberdeen and daily Volley Ball matches during lunch at the HQ in California.

Recently we had 2 company sponsored Personal Trainers come in every day at 2pm to get everyone exercising for 15 mins.

Company wide we have sit to stand desks, so everyone is encouraged to stand everyday for at least 1hr, as well as a work-pace software that “forces” everyone to break for 5 mins and go for a walk.

Fresh fruit is also widely available at most offices globally.

Hi Jose,

Thanks also for the comments, funny that you have experienced Beat the Banana too…small world!

Really interesting to read what type of things you and your colleagues do, thanks so much for sharing

Most what i read online is trash and copy paste but your posts are not alike. Keep it like this.

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