May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month

As the growing trend of corporate social responsibility starts to strengthen, businesses are becoming more aware of not only the environment's health, but all the physical and mental well-being of their employees. As the employer-employee relationship continues to change and evolve, more companies have come to understand that an employee's health is something they must not only protect, but improve. 

This increased awareness can be seen in the fact May is Global Employee Health and Fitness Month. Across the world, organizations have bought into the value of workforce well-being strategies and programs. A healthy worker is a happy worker, who is also a productive worker. Beyond that, engaging employees on their health can improve morale and shows that their employer takes an active stake in their personal well-being. Here's what you need to know about Global Employee Health and Fitness Month and how your business can participate.

GEHFM founded in 1989

According to the National Association for Health and Fitness, Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM) was first observed in 1989. At that time, the concept of employer and employee taking a cooperative, proactive approach to personal health wasn't exactly mainstream. Since then, however, there have been tremendous advances in technology and modern corporate thinking that have led to the current climate where businesses are offering fitness trackers, gym memberships and other perks just to get workers moving.

Collaborating on achieving a healthier workplace and workforce is in everyone's interests. Employees can benefit from healthier lifestyles, while companies can see gains on multiple fronts, including: health care cost containment, office motivation and increased productivity. 

"Employees can benefit from healthier lifestyles, while companies can see gains on multiple fronts."

How to get involved this May

There are many steps both employees and employers can take to observe GEHFM and inspire progress:

  • Take part in National Employee Health and Fitness Day: Held on Wednesday, May 18 this year, National Employee Health and Fitness Day is the premier event held during GEHFM and is the largest worksite health and fitness event held in the country. Businesses can hold events, sessions, even contests, to highlight healthy choices and moments during the day (like getting up to stretch or to walk after a long period sitting down).
  • Have leaders set the example: For most, office direction and guidance to work has to be reinforced from the top down. That's why it's important for business leaders to be present and engaged with GEHFM, as employees will take their cues. It not only helps spur well-being awareness, but builds a better culture.
  • Get at least 20 minutes of exercise each workday: Workers (especially those in white-collar, office settings) often feel chained to their desks. It's important for managers to let them know it's more than OK for them to take a break — it's encouraged. Getting 20 minutes of exercise or movement during the workday is important to setting the foundation for a healthy lifestyle.

As more businesses see the value in engaging workers on their well-being, it will be important to take advantage of opportunities like GEHFM. Start thinking about what training sessions or impromptu exercises may work for you.