5 unhealthy workplace habits and how to fix them

A messy desk can produce work-related stress. Get organized!

A messy desk can produce work-related stress. Get organized!

By Joel Vento

The average American full-time employee works approximately 47 hours per week, according to data from a 2014 Gallup poll. Given the amount of time spent at the office, it is essential to help your small business employees practice healthy behaviors while at work. Helping your employees avoid the five unhealthy workplace habits discussed below can boost their energy and lead to happier workplace moods. And you should try to avoid these five habits yourself!

• Staying at your desk all day

It is easy to get in a zone of staring at your computer screen, only to realize that several hours have passed without getting out of your chair. Unfortunately, scientific research has shown that a sedentary lifestyle significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and cancer. In fact, sitting for long periods of time each day may be shaving time off your life.

To rectify this problem, make it your mission to take brief breaks throughout the day and encourage employees to do the same. This can be as little as getting up and walking around your office for two to three minutes each hour. To stay on track, set an alarm on your computer or phone to ding every hour. This will remind you to start moving. If you are seriously committed to decreasing your sedentary lifestyle, consider getting a standing desk. Standing desks provide a great way to boost productivity while staying healthier.

• Unhealthy snacking

With the office snack machine just a few steps away, it can be tempting to reach for a candy bar or bag of chips to fulfill that mid-afternoon craving. Eating unhealthy snacks at work is problematic, but so is cutting too many calories. Skipping a snack may cause you to be starving when you get home, leading to overeating.

Solve this problem by keeping healthier snacks nearby. For example, sliced carrots or celery with a few tablespoons of hummus can make a good mid-afternoon treat. Alternatively, pack a piece of fruit, a few slices of cheese or a handful of walnuts. Anything that contains several grams of protein is a good way to combat cravings and increase satiety. And if you’re the owner, research the trend towards vending machines that offer healthier alternatives.

• Poor desk posture

Sitting at a desk is not a natural posture for the human body. Investing in an ergonomic chair is a good way to alleviate pressure on your spine. However, also pay attention to your body posture to make sure you do not harm yourself. When sitting, keep feet flat on the floor beneath you. Adjust the chair height so that your thighs are roughly parallel to the floor. Remember to keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Pretend that someone has attached a piece of string to the center of your head and is pulling upward on it. Avoid hunching your shoulders when sitting at your computer, which can lead to major back tension.

• Failing to stay hydrated

Staying hydrated is essential for good health. When you are properly hydrated, your heart has to exert less force to pump blood to your tissues. Your muscles also work more effectively, reducing the energy they require.

Experts vary in the amount of water they recommend each day, but 8 cups per day is a good goal. To meet this objective, bring a re-usable water bottle to work. Remember that all fluid intake counts toward your goal. Choosing water over juice or soft drinks is a healthier choice. Add a wedge of lemon or lime to jazz up the flavor.

• Desk disorganization

If you constantly have to apologize for the state of your desk, it may be time to de-clutter. Desk disorganization is a potential source of business problems, including lost or misplaced files. However, it can also be bad for your mental health. A cluttered desk may increase your anxiety or work-related stress. This can contribute to poor mood both at work and at home.

To tackle your desk, start with a digital file organization system. Placing all new files in the appropriate folder in your inbox prevents them from piling up. Then, set aside 15 minutes on Friday afternoons to clear any clutter that has accumulated during the week. This will help you stay organized over the long term.

If you’re the business owner, make sure your employees have all the supplies they need to get organized. And you might consider bringing in a specialist in office organization to give people tips on how to de-clutter.


Joel Vento works as the head of sales at Concept Seating, a manufacturer of heavy-duty seating solutions for a variety of industries. Concept Seating’s ergonomic chairs are built withstand demanding work environments. Joel Vento brings over 20 years of experience to the seating industry, joining Concept in 1992.

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