Your employees are the heartbeat of your company.
Yet, most of them aren’t taking care of their own hearts.
A 2019 study found that nearly half of Americans have some type of cardiovascular disease, often a result of high blood pressure. Worse yet, heart disease continues to rank as the number one cause of death in the U.S. Stroke trailed closely behind as the fifth leading cause of death.
Both of these conditions are also the most expensive medical conditions for employers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While you can’t force your employees to exercise or quit smoking to improve their cardiovascular health, you can nurture a heart-healthy workplace culture.
Here we take a look at the impact cardiovascular disease has on the workplace.
Plus, we’re sharing easy-to-implement ideas and activities to promote during American Heart Month to help your employees learn to show a little love to their hearts.
What is Cardiovascular Disease?
Cardiovascular disease is also known as heart disease. It can include a variety of conditions related to the heart, often tied to atherosclerosis.
Atherosclerosis happens when “plaque” builds up in artery walls. After much build-up, the arteries narrow, making it tough for blood to flow freely. If blood clots form, it blocks blood flow and may cause a stroke or heart attack.
While there are plenty of treatments for different heart conditions — like heart valve issues, heart attacks, strokes, or arrhythmia — prevention is an ideal way to reduce the risk of heart disease from developing or progressing.
Heart Disease Facts to Share With Employees
Because nearly half of Americans are battling heart disease, there’s a good chance a percentage of your employees are, too.
Educational heart campaigns are a simple way to spread awareness through your workplace.
The easiest way? Share heart disease facts with your employees during American Heart Month, which is in February. Doing so increases awareness and starts the conversation about the importance of heart health.
Here are a few heart disease facts to pass along:
- 1 in 4 Americans dies of heart disease.
Atherosclerosis is the most common cause of cardiovascular disease.
● Heart disease symptoms can be caused by heart defects.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women.
● Heart and blood vessel disease are also known simply as “heart disease.”
- Risk factors include age, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol levels, smoking, family history, diabetes, obesity, stress, poor hygiene, and physical inactivity.
Where to share these facts: On social media, fliers, email newsletters, and bulletin boards. Show some love to your employees during Valentine’s Day by handing out gift bags with heart-shaped items and a printed list of heart health disease facts.
How to Keep Your Office Heart Healthy
Hearts are front and center during the month of February. But that’s not the only time heart health should be discussed in the workplace. Considering kicking off a heart health campaign that runs throughout the year to remind workers that heart health is important every day, not just once a year.
Here are a few ways to promote your employees to get heart healthy:
Make Healthy Eating Exciting
Workers spend a good chunk of their days in the workplace. Unfortunately, that sometimes means they aren’t focusing on eating a balanced diet or eating well. Not only does eating well contribute directly to good heart health, but it also keeps workers productive and energized for the full day.
A few ways to encourage healthy eating:
- Stock the fridge with sparkling water
- Keep a fruit bowl stocked in the break room
- Host a local farm-to-table catered lunch monthly
- Ask vendors to put healthier snacks in vending machines
- Remind employees to step away and eat lunch
- Do quarterly healthy cookbook giveaways
- Hire a corporate dietician or nutritionist
Healthy eating should never be boring, either. If you hear workers hemming and hawing over the “too healthy” foods being replaced in your workplace, bring in a nutritionist or dietician for a lunch and learn. An expert can show your workers how to eat well yet feel satisfied.
Enforce a Smoke-Free Workplace Policy
A smoke-free workplace is a healthier workplace. Not to mention, non-smokers cut their risk of heart disease by quite a bit. Even smokers who quit can immediately improve their heart health.
Why a smoke-free workplace works:
- Healthcare costs may be reduced
- Non-smoker complaints are minimized
- Shows the company cares about all employees’ health
- Non-smokers won’t be exposed to toxic air
When implementing a smoke-free policy, help smokers feel supported instead of judged. It will make them more likely to quit, or, at the very least, cut back.
Get Employees Moving
Exercise is good for the whole body, including the heart. Since lack of exercise is considered a risk factor for heart disease, it’s just another reason to promote working out to your team. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic.
Ways to get employees moving:
- Host walking meetings
- Build an on-site gym
- Offer gym memberships
- Bring in yoga or cardio trainers 3x weekly
- Schedule before and after-work gym sessions
Any way that you can encourage physical movement in the workplace is good. Even providing a standing work desk or treadmill workspaces can help employees improve their health daily. Reward employees for participating in any sort of physical activity to encourage them to stick with it!
Encourage Health Screenings
Health screenings are one of those things that's easy for employees to put off in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But health screenings can be life-saving screenings. It helps employees get ahead of health conditions that they might not otherwise know about — like high blood pressure.
How to promote screenings:
- Send out quarterly health reminders
- Email this list of health screenings
- Host an on-site biometric screening
- Bring in a nurse for a lunch and learn event
Want to make it super easy on your employees? Then host an on-site biometric screening where the pros come to your workplace. Your employees will get a good snapshot of their health, including BMI, blood pressure, triglycerides, and glucose levels.
3 Easy American Heart Month Activities For Your Office
Now that you’ve got the facts on just how damaging heart disease can be to your workforce, it’s time to get employees excited about taking care of their tickers.
With February just right around the corner, now is the time to start planning your American Heart Month activities.
Here’s a list of three ideas that are super easy for any workplace:
Red is the official color for American Heart Month. Every Friday, ask your employees to wear the color red to spread awareness and unity as an office that stands up to heart disease. Make red days casual days. Your employees will love it and it will increase participation, too.
Bonus idea: Set aside one “red day” where employees can decorate their shirts, especially if you have a company team that will participate in a local charity race. Or, your employees can create a shirt in memory of someone they know who lost their fight to heart disease.
Have employees get a little sentimental on social media. Ask them to use your company’s hashtag along with the #ourhearts hashtag. Encourage them to share pictures of reasons they keep their hearts healthy. It can include family photos, marathon finish line pics, or general pics of them enjoying everyday life. It will require them to reflect as they post the image.
Bonus idea: If your marketing department is super creative, have them create a mini-campaign surrounding those images.
Host a Cardiologist
Bring in a cardiologist for a lunch and learn event. When you host a cardiologist, you give your employees insider knowledge from the field. A cardiologist can share risk factor information, personal stories, and ways employees can immediately improve their heart health.
Bonus idea: After the presentation, see if the cardiologist would be open to a Q-and-A session. Presentations are more interesting and impactful when the audience can engage.
Promote Heart-Healthy Lifestyles Year-Round to Employees
Taking preventative steps is a big part of keeping the heart healthy — no matter what stage of life your employees are in.
While some types of heart disease — like heart defects — can’t be prevented, other types of cardiovascular issues can be avoided through smart lifestyle changes. Encouraging your employees to eat well, cut back on sodium, maintain a healthy weight, and reduce stress are all prevention measures within their control.
As an employer, don’t let the burden of cardiovascular disease take out your employees — from work or from life.
Take steps now and year-round to help employees minimize their risk and make permanent lifestyle changes to avoid heart disease. American Heart Month is just the beginning.
Interested in helping your employees reach their fitness and wellness goals? Check out the free downloadable guide: 6 Easy Fitness and Wellness Challenges For Any Workplace to help them get started!
Heart Image Credit: Freepik