Policies for a Healthy Workplace

It’s tough to mandate good health, but local leaders—whether in government, business, schools or churches–can do a lot to support healthy behaviors through informal or formal policies. Whether they regulate the use of tobacco in public areas, require healthful foods be served at meetings or promote walking, these policies can ensure a community with a rich culture of wellness. They make the healthy choice the easy choice for each of us.  How could the places where you live, learn, work and play promote good health?

Policies for a Healthy Workplace from WPHF on Vimeo.

Tax season–a high anxiety time for anyone–is especially stressful for accounting firms.

Moss, Krusick & Associates, a Winter Park accounting firm, fights back with an arsenal of stress-reducing tactics, including a review of its Audit Tax Season Survival Guide. The guide includes a variety of reminders of healthy ways to cope, such as getting enough sleep and exercise and keeping lines of communication open.

Then, after the April 15 tax deadline, staff members are rewarded with chair massages.

walk_sqIt’s just a small sample of the comprehensive wellness efforts launched at the firm which in 2012 won the Orlando Business Journal award for healthiest employer in the small business category.

Moss Krusick launched its efforts to build a culture of wellness in 2011, according to Stephanie Watkins, CPA, CGMA, who coordinates the firm’s wellness program.

Employees were polled on their interests and the firm researched available resources and materials. Ms. Watkins said they found an abundance of them, and most were free.

The firm’s first office-wide activity was participation in the President’s Active Lifestyle Fitness Challenge where activity could be tracked online.

Then, in 2013, the firm developed three office policies to support good health including:

  • Sit 60 and move for three–this encourages employees to get up after 60 minutes of sitting to move around and stretch for three minutes.
  • Healthy Meetings—this is designed to insure there are healthy options at office meals.
  • Strive to be stress-reduced—recognizing too much stress is hard on health, this policy is designed to help keep stress to a minimum and includes among other activities reviews of the Audit Tax Season Survival Guide.

To encourage physical activity throughout the year, the firm provides employees with passes to the Winter Park Community Center which has a pool, gym and basketball court.

In the months leading up to and then after tax season, staff members are invited to participate in a variety of new activities like kickboxing and paintball, and sit in on lunch and learn programs focused on health, according to Ms. Watkins.

The new policies, activities and education have together produced a shift in the office culture, she said. Employees are all anxious to know what activity is coming up next.

And there has been a shift for Ms. Watkins as well. As coordinator for these healthy activities, her eating habits and activity level are now in the office spotlight, so she finds herself eating healthier foods and moving more. And she likes it that way.

She also is frequently asked to share information about Moss Krusick’s health and wellness culture changes with other businesses and organizations, something she is happy to do. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain when it comes to making healthy choices the easy choices at work. But it is important for businesses and organizations to understand change takes time, she said.