It’s time for another team meeting in the workplace! You walk into the meeting room, pull out a chair, and join your co-workers in gobbling up the delicious muffins and pastries in the middle of the table to share. As the meeting drags on, you find yourself munching on the treats available out of boredom. Three hours later, your team leader finally adjourns the meeting, and you stand up out of your chair for the first time – your legs feel stiff and your back hurts from all the sitting, and your energy is completely drained after all the sugar. You felt so lazy, so you realise you didn’t even come up with a single idea during the entire meeting, either! Do team meetings always have to make you feel so awful?!
Team culture is a powerful determinant of behaviour. Many books discuss how to create more effective teams by improving workplace habits and efficiency. However, perhaps the most important factor contributing to a team’s effectiveness is the health of the team members! High-energy, healthy team members will have better ideas, feel more creative, and create a more positive team environment.
This article will share 4 tips to discover how work teams can encourage one another to eat healthier and follow healthier lifestyle strategies. If you are your team leader, you can implement these strategies directly. Or, if you are a team member, feel free to suggest these strategies to your team leader by explaining that these strategies will improve efficiency and motivation within the team!
Tip 1 – Meet on your feet!
Walking meetings are a great way to gently introduce your team to a more active lifestyle and reduce sedentary behaviour in a fun way, which can actually improve productivity!
Harvard Business Review evaluated the growing trend of “walking meetings”, in which teams take their meetings outside and discuss while they walk. Incredibly, HBR found that walking meetings had the following positive benefits for team effectiveness:
- Team members who engage in walking meetings were 5.25% more likely to report being creative at their jobs
- Survey results suggested that walking meetings improve cognitive engagement (focus) while working
- Walkers were 8.5% more likely to report high levels of work engagement in surveys
It should be noted that research from Psychology Today finds that walking meetings are best to improve creativity and divergent thinking, in which individuals are independently brainstorming. One study found walking meetings improved creativity by up to 60%. However, other studies find that for convergent thinking, in which individuals need to reach consensus, come to agreements, and pool their creative ideas together, walking reduces effectiveness.
The bottom line: Take divergent work like creative meetings and brainstorming work while walking, and keep convergent work like reaching consensus and coming to conclusions while sitting.
Tip: Walking meetings sound too intense or impractical? Add more movement into your team the easy way by encouraging standing desks. You don’t need the expensive sit-stand desks on the market; just add 1-2 tall bar tables from IKEA into your workspace to help your teammates swap to standing a few times in the day to boost their creativity! I’m actually writing this article while using a standing desk right now!
Tip 2 – Challenge Your Team
Instead of lecturing your teammates on why they should be healthy, get them involved in a fun way with a team challenge! Challenges foster improved teamwork, team communication and are a great way to have conversations about adopting simple healthier habits at work. Organise a prize that would get your team excited, and try launching or proposing either one of the following challenges within your team at work:
1. Team walking challenge
Step count challenges encourage team members to find creative ways to squeeze in more movement throughout the day. Increased stepping improves metabolic rate, daily calorie burn, and energy levels. Challenge your team members to compete against each other to log the highest number of steps over a period of 1-2 weeks. If your team members have fitness trackers, you can set-up these challenges within the Fitbit or Garmin apps. Or, you can use a free website like countit.com to link multiple Garmin and Fitbit devices, as well as free iPhone step apps!
2. Team hydration challenge
Tip 3 – Rig the potluck
Office potlucks are essential social functions in which team members share food to increase teamwork and communication. Unfortunately, many office potlucks and snack corners become junk food havens that decrease team energy and load everyone on the team up on sugar!
As a team member, you can take it upon yourself to start bringing a healthy option to every potluck. Better yet, ask a few of your team members to secretly join you in this endeavour, to ensure more healthy options are available at every meeting to provide balance.
As a team leader, you can share with your team that you want to encourage more healthy, energising foods in the team. You can take the lead and start bringing healthy items, as well as sharing a list of healthy snacks that other members might want to bring in the future. This shift towards healthier choices will influence the team environment towards healthier options.
Tip 4 – Incorporate ongoing fitness & health learning into your team’s continuing education
Many teams already have a concept of continuing education amongst team members. Team reading lists, book clubs and sponsored online conferences are common ways to encourage team members to keep learning and improving their core competencies. However, a truly effective team requires healthy team members!
As a team member or team leader, you can suggest adding the following books to your team reading list. These books have been selected as they are foundational contemporary works in the field of health that give an individual a solid foundation of how to live a healthy, balanced, holistic life and improve their energy and vitality in their lives:
Health & Fitness Reading list:
- Eat, Move, Sleep by Tom Rath
- No Sweat: How the Simple Science of Motivation Can Bring You a Lifetime of Fitness by Michelle Segar
- The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
- Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Micheal Moss
Adding health discussions into your team’s concept of continuing education helps create a culture in which health, fitness and healthy eating are part of your team’s core values, which naturally creates healthier, happier, more productive team members!
Is your team “healthy” or “unhealthy”? Do you spend most of your workday sitting or standing? Let us know in the comments!