We are pleased to have our Haworth sales representative, Gina Nist, share her thoughts on Rex Miller, Phillip Williams, and Michael O’Neill’s book The Healthy Workplace Nudge. Make sure to order your copy or place a hold at your local library.
Our workplace wellness initiatives aren’t working! We spend $18,000 per employee on health costs and these costs will double before 2030. The Healthy Workplace Nudge works on tackling employee health and disengagement and profiles how 100 large organizations have fixed.
Chapter 9 – Nudge Thinking
So what is a “Nudge” anyway? Miller defines a “Nudge” as a positive reinforcement or gentle suggestion that shifts people towards greater safety, better health, economic improvement, and other individual and group benefits.
Traditional wellness programs have always operated on an opt-in basis and have assumed that people can be cajoled into change. Shifting programs from opt-in to opt-out can dramatically increase people’s participation in a program by using innate human laziness to our advantage. 80% of our time is spent in auto-pilot mode. By making the positive decisions the default we can “nudge” people into better behavior by making it thoughtless!
There are seven pillars behind Nudge thinking:
- Default: Make healthy choice the default option
- Appealing: Give the nudge a solid appeal
- Intuitive: Make healthy choice easy to access
- Simple: Less is more, don’t overwhelm people.
- Feedback: Give people immediate positive feedback to reinforce the behavior
- Forgiving: Make sure your system has an airbag for “oops” moments. We all make mistakes and overly punishing someone will stop them from trying again
- Norms: Leaders produce the positive behaviors they desire by modeling recognizing, measuring, and rewarding.
Chapter 10: The Healthy Building Nudge
We all know that it’s very difficult to change human behavior. So how do we craft a culture of health and happiness? Miller says the best companies have two things in common: committed and engaged leadership and they invested time and hard work to build healthy cultures. The cornerstone of a healthy culture is a healthy building – our bodies adapt to their surroundings and we spend 90% of our time indoors!
Buildings set your stress response and your reactions to certain things in your environment. That stress response gets amplified over time. If you’ve created an environment that’s more stressful, you’re developing a physiology that’s very reactive to stress. This pushes you in the direction of chronic illness.
Delivering a healthy building and culture sounds daunting but it’s becoming more necessary and increasingly economical. The WELL certification lists more than 100 health issues that it aims to combat, from access to light to comfort during the day. Designing your building around the WELL Building Standard lets employees know you built their space with wellness in mind and can act as a nudge for their wellness journey at home as well!
Chapter 11: The Financial Nudge
Why is organizational health so elusive? We’ve talked before about the most common wellness fallacy; that $1 wellness spending = $3 ROI. Unfortunately, there’s not an exact formula to understand what an individual employees well-being would cost. According to Miller, the fastest and least expensive upfront approach is investing in a WELL Building approach. Think about how much you spend per employee on wellness programs, the average cost is $4,360 but the estimated cost per person for upgrading a building to the WELL Standard is $150 to $500 per person. The best part of upgrading to WELL is that you have guaranteed 100% participation.
Chapter 12: Becoming Your Best Self
How do you determine when you are working at your best? What about when you’re at your worst? Often times we burn our candles at both ends, going to bed late and waking up early. Our bodies suffer from days of constant stress and it can lead to chronic illness.
As employees and employers we all need to be more conscious of the following behaviors:
- Sleep Behavior: those who care about their health must understand the ramifications of sleep debt. We must develop routines that optimize biological sleep.
- Recovery Behavior: Today, we have excellent techniques and interventions that help to optimize rest cycles and limit the accumulation of stress.
- Training Behavior: we can and must use technology to prevent overtraining. We need to create individual profiles that hold benchmark physiological information, periodization models, biofeedback and recovery data.
One of the most important things we can do to reduce stress is getting consistent sleep and taking breaks. Getting good sleep keeps you energized and helps stave off the negative effects of stress – the easiest thing you can do to help your sleep is to turn off your electronic devices one hour before you go to bed. During the workday, consider reprogramming your day so that you work for 90 minutes of uninterrupted and then take a 20-minute break walking break. Making these small switches can help manage your energy and stress levels without making large impacts on your daily schedule!