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Employers can set wellness examples

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So if you notice that workplace morale is low – if it appears that your partners, associates and paralegals have grown sluggish and seem down – the answer to turning things around could start with your own behavior.

Research shows that taking a 20-minute, moderately paced walk in the afternoon can instantly improve your mood and increase your energy. But employees are less likely to initiate this wellness ritual if they hardly ever see their boss stand up from his or her desk.

Do yourself and your employees a favor and start setting examples of how to improve wellness in the workplace. You might find that once you start incorporating healthier behaviors into your day, your workers will follow suit and start picking up on them, too.

Organize Social Events

Psychology says that socializing can provide a number of benefits to your physical and mental health. This includes decreasing feelings of depression, increasing productivity and potentially adding years to your life. Unfortunately in the legal profession, it’s all too easy to stay glued to a computer screen or a stack of paperwork all day long.

As an employer, it’s your responsibility to encourage socialization amongst colleagues and create an environment where employees want to work together. To do so, consider organizing social events outside of the workplace to help your workers form new relationships. As a result, this could lower stress at work and improve productivity.

Promote fitness at work 

Regular exercise reduces stress, says the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Physical activity produces endorphins — the brain’s feel-good chemical — which acts as a natural painkiller and mood booster.

According to  “A Profession At Risk,” the report released by the Committee on Lawyer Well-Being of the Supreme Court of Virginia earlier this year, one of the greatest risks to lawyer health is the sedentary nature of the work. So as mentioned earlier, get your employees moving! Instead of convening in the conference room, instead try a walking meeting. Do your workers live near the office? Suggest they start biking to work (and perhaps you can do the same.)

If you start making an effort to increase activity throughout the day, your employees will, too. And you’ll probably find they’ll be much happier as a result.

Provide Healthy Snacks

We get it. Sometimes you need that piece of chocolate to get you through the rest of the afternoon. We’re not saying to completely eliminate salty and sugary treats; but research shows that healthy meals improve employee wellness.

Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are full of nutrients, fiber and protein, and they keep your employees feeling great throughout the working day. Not to mention healthy snacks will keep them feeling more productive for longer periods of time.

The American Heart Association has a list of heart-healthy snacks that your staff will enjoy. Instead of surprising the office with a coffee cake on Monday morning, why not make oatmeal bars instead? Food for thought.

Add a splash of color 

Studies have been done in recent years investigating how the use of color in interior design at hospitals can help create a healing environment for patients. Researchers have found that some colors, such as orange, can stimulate mental activity and help improve psychological conditions.

Whether you believe these ideas or not, you can’t deny that a colorful painting is more enjoyable to look at than a blank, white wall. Is it too far-fetched to believe that making a few design tweaks in your office could have a positive impact on employee’s mental health?

This can include putting up photographs, bringing in house plants and, if you’re feeling up for it, painting a wall or two. If redecorating the office isn’t in the plans, consider giving each employee a stipend to get a little something for the desk area.

Create a wellness newsletter

And send it out at the start of every week. Not only is this a great way to remind your employees about healthy living tips they can incorporate into their work routines, it can also help spark communication among workers on how to improve their well-being.

The more comfortable employees are discussing wellness, the more likely they are to start picking up on healthier habits. As the leader of your workplace, take it upon yourself to start encouraging these behaviors.

You’ll find that you, your employees and your practice could benefit majorly from the most minor changes.