The Healthy Executive – Last of the Series

How do we nudge?

I really can’t say this article is my last on being a healthy executive. It’s a lifestyle that I’ve chosen, which I’m always learning valuable lessons along the way to pass on to others. Last week, I talked about how mental health is just as important as physical health. Here, I want to focus on how making small changes in our companies will help employees become healthier, and thus our companies become healthy. As leaders, we need to shift our cultures into those where well-being is placed among the highest priorities. We must shift our thinking from that of using wellness incentives (which have never worked) to one offering healthy choices in our facilities as well as the opportunities for our employees to rest their brains after a mental workout. You all know we need to make the shift not only for our employees but also for our families and ourselves.

With placing it upon the leadership’s shoulders, I want to restate my recommendation to reach out to Rex Miller when you’re ready to discover how you can help your executive team reach their wellness goals, including mental and physical well-being. His book, The Healthy Workplace Nudge, goes into depth about creating healthy workplaces and gives examples of how companies throughout the world already are transforming their spaces and companies into healthy ones.

We all want healthy employees for many reasons, mostly to save money with less healthcare costs but also for fewer mistakes and absences. Even the best minds need rest. So how do we help change behavior? The book dives into much more explanation, but the simplicity of it is in the title, simply ‘nudge’ people toward making the right decisions. Incentive programs don’t work over time. We need to facilitate folks into making the correct choices on their own so these choices become automatic.

What is a nudge? The book explains it as making the right thing easy. I think of it as sort of grocery store marketing where the store places some items that they want to sell quickly at eye level and arms reach but places other items, those on sale or most frequently bought, on the top or bottom shelves where they’re harder to find. In other words, put the bottled water and healthy snacks where employees can easily see and access them. Make the right choices more convenient – maybe just hide the sugary sodas and high-calorie snacks – or get rid of them. Even the small adjustment in making healthy items more easily accessible provides positive reinforcement and gently suggests people shift toward choices that provide a greater benefit to the company and themselves.

The culture movement within a company isn’t really as easy as your display of food and drink, but it doesn’t have to be as complicated as you might think. You need to assess your culture, make your ‘shift plan’ to nudge people into making healthy choices, provide space and/or permission for mental recovery and reap the benefits of greater employee health, engagement, retention and savings. I’m sure small changes will bring out the best in your company. Let me know if you contact Rex. I’ll put in a good word for him to work his healthy magic for you too.