Workplace Wellness: Should You Reward Employees for Using the Stairs?
We all know that workplace wellness is important. But what if you could reward workers for making healthier decisions in the office? Would you do it?
Office tech: encouraging healthier behaviour
You arrive at work on a Monday morning, enter the lobby of your office building and head for the lift. Just as you reach it, your phone beeps, reminding you that itΓÇÖs healthier to take the stairs. You turn around, enter the stairwell and begin the ascent, while the smart tag you wear on your lapel logs your decision, sending the info to HR.
Thanks to technological advances, the scenario described above is possible. In theory, you could kit out your office with sensors at key points ΓÇô such as stairwells or lifts ΓÇô to monitor employee behaviour. You could even program those sensors to issue prompts, encouraging healthier behaviour.
It doesnΓÇÖt stop there though. You could assign points to each employee, each time they make a healthy lifestyle choice in the office. ItΓÇÖs then up to you how you choose to translate those points into real-life rewards (although presumably, it wonΓÇÖt be an all-you-can-eat buffet or cases of champagne).
You donΓÇÖt have to restrict your monitoring to wall-based sensors either; they can also be integrated into a variety of other office items, as some recent inventions have shown. Take the Stir desk, for example. It contains sensors which monitor your seated posture and can be programmed to gently rise to a standing height at intervals throughout the day.
The Darma smart cushion performs a similar function, monitoring heart rate, stress levels and the length of time the user has remained seated.
Should you reward employees for using the stairs?
There is a strong case for employers to take a stronger interest in their employeesΓÇÖ wellbeing. If nothing else, the healthier your team is, the less sick days theyΓÇÖre likely to take and the more productive your company or department will be. It can also be a morale booster to show that you care.
But thereΓÇÖs a distinct difference between supporting healthy behaviour and monitoring employeesΓÇÖ lifestyles. Many will find the latter intrusive. Not to mention the fact that it puts the pressure on you, as the boss, to lead by example. Is that a commitment youΓÇÖre willing and able to make?
Fortunately, there may be a simpler solution.
Back in 2010, a study conducted in the US and reported in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health* demonstrated that placing a sign next to the lift which highlighted the benefits of taking the stairs resulted in a 34% increase in people choosing the latter to get to their destination.
ItΓÇÖs not exactly high-tech and the results may not be quite so easy to measure (the researchers conducting the study had to hide near the lifts to observe). But itΓÇÖs also a lot cheaper, a lot easier ΓÇô and well, weΓÇÖre all responsible adults. ShouldnΓÇÖt the benefit to our health be motivation enough?
Bosses ΓÇô would you reward employees for taking the stairs? Employees ΓÇô do you think your boss should reward you for making healthy decisions in the office?
* Grimstvedt et al, 2010