Inspiration & AdviceWork Well: 5 Ways to Build Better Work/Life Balance at Your Startup

All entrepreneurs know the importance of building a great team—and if you don’t, you’ll learn the hard way. It’s those people working long hours for an uncertain future that can make or break a startup—and yet, in the midst of endless to-do lists, it can be all too easy to deprioritize their health and well-being. That goes for your health and well-being, too!

You know you’re thankful for your team, and you probably tell them so, but actions speak louder than words. Here, guest blogger Carol Marleigh Kline, MA, CWIC, CWWS, CWWPM, of Arcadia Wellness Partners, shares some ideas for fostering workplace wellness you can act on today. Here’s Carol:

Encouraging workplace wellness doesn’t require deep pockets or an extensive HR team. Here are some moves a scrappy startup can make as part of worksite wellness that will make you more competitive in the hiring market—and keep you and the team happy!

1. Flexible Hours. If you know you can juggle your hours to be there for a child’s school play, check on an aging parent or help your spouse meet his/her work obligations, can’t you just feel the relief? Flexible hours reduce stress, which builds wellness. Several studies are showing that when employees have the option of working flexible hours, their relationships improve. They become more engaged at work and less likely to suffer from “spillover,” a term that describes the negative effects of taking work stresses home with us, or bringing home stress to the workplace.

2. Stressbuster Stations. Steal great workplace wellness ideas from well-funded wellness programs at MD Anderson Cancer Center or Willamette View retirement community. Both offer stressbuster stations—leased bicycle-type exercise equipment an employee can use for five or 10 minutes of pedaling in a hallway. Studies are showing that even moderate exercise bathes brain cells in oxygen and glucose. Exercise helps us focus, feel better, and release tension, which makes for more productive, happier employees.

Don’t have the budget or space for exercise equipment? Try an Instant Recess, or set up a standing work station.

Wait, where are the Doritos? Vending machines can offer fresh fruit instead of, or alongside of, chips and candy. Photo by eroku (cc).

3. Walking Challenge. Even the smallest company can offer employees the fun of a walking challenge. Experts say 10,000 steps a day is a reasonable goal. Since it takes 21 days to get us in the groove of a new habit, aim at a three-week challenge to hit 10,000 steps per day. You’ll be amazed to see how many ordinarily sedentary people start walking during lunch! As an incentive, consider a lottery for tickets to a game, play, or a gift card for dinner out.

For those who want to precisely track distance and speed, a GPS watch is good. Otherwise, a $3 plastic pedometer should work well enough. Be aware that phone apps for step tracking use a lot of battery power, and GPS watches have to be recharged.

If disabled or injured employees would like to qualify for the lottery, ask them to run the communications/advertising campaign for the challenge and tally each employee’s totals. Involving every employee in the pursuit of wellness is good business.

4. Vending Machines. Vendors like to stock their machines with items that are almost guaranteed to be edible into the next century. If that’s the case at your workplace, ask if some other items might replace the high salt/sugar/fat candy and chips. Apples and nuts are a good start. Prices for less-healthy items might be allowed to go up a bit to offset the expense of stocking fresh items.

If you don’t have a vending machine, employees can take turns keeping a fruit bowl stocked or organize a weekly healthy potluck breakfast or lunch.

For more local wellness inspiration and resources, check out:

5. Buddy System for Health

Staying with a new course of eating or exercise past the first few weeks of determined effort is not easy. Consider creating a buddy system. Bring in a speaker or have employees discuss their nutrition and fitness goals at a meeting with the aim of finding/being a buddy to someone with similar goals. If your team is too small to support a buddy system, consider partnering with another organization in your building or nearby.

What other workplace wellness ideas would you suggest?

Carol Kline, Arcadia Wellness PartnersCarol is a certified wellness coach and worksite wellness specialist and program manager. Her website is Contact her at


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