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Employee health and wellness has become a highly popular initiative over the years to drive business outcomes

Employee health and wellness has become a highly popular initiative over the years to drive business outcomes. While many published research results have shown strong correlations linking productivity to happiness, health and motivation, the essence can be distilled in the following top 10 practical tips for Canadian businesses to use in 2015 to increase productivity and engagement among employees.

1. Get the blood flowing. Since much of our best talent is shackled behind computer screens and at desks, it's important that they get up and move around to rejuvenate their minds with oxygenated blood. Two minutes of stretching and a 15-minute walking meeting are great ways to increase blood flow and get more oxygen to the brain.

2. Increase productive social interactions. Humans are social animals, so giving time to interact can harness our natural behaviours to impact health and business. Regular social interactions decrease stress and create trusting environments among adults. We suggest holding brainstorming meetings or lunch and learns with 30 minutes or so of social time afterwards to discuss topics to help employees feel more socially connected.

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3. Focus on energy enhancement. Fatigue caused by low heart rate and high body temperature can decrease productivity. Make sure indoor temperatures are where they need to be for the most comfort and provide regular intervals for employees to actively engage throughout the day. One way to perk up the energy and maintain upbeat heart rates is by playing up-tempo music in break rooms and washrooms.

4. Gamify the office. Problem solving can be fun and social. Tossing around a ball while brainstorming is an active way to engage employees in the active thinking process. Regular office-wide brain games and challenges are another good way to keep things fun and competitive.

5. Allow un-interrupted hours for task completion. Distractions are omnipresent at busy offices. Creating quiet zones or enclosed areas where employees can 'hide-away' to accomplish tasks without interruption can increase productivity.

6. Nutrition for performance. The food we eat has a lot to do with our ability to focus, our energy levels, and how we feel about the world. Access to healthier food options and nutrition coaching are simple tactics to change behaviour and better employee health.

7. Ban busy-ness. A single work day can fill up quickly, but are all the to do's necessary for progress? Fifteen minute no-chair meetings to discuss daily or weekly objectives give employees time away from their desks and save on meeting time. Managers should also coach their employees to help them prioritize tasks.

8. Measure the right metrics. Take a look at the frequency employees use sick days, as well as the amount of daily hours logged for things like task management and project completion. Use this data to implement new programs that help employees improve their productive hours instead of just "present" hours.

9. Create ways to save time. One of the easiest ways to cut down on production time for completing work is to implement a system of transparency for knowledge sharing and performance visibility. Provide your employees with tools that can help answer questions quickly and give insight into how they are performing.

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10. Encourage joy and authenticity. It is very important to create a safe and happy environment that allows everyone to be themselves. If people have to hide what they do to make themselves happy or energetic for fear of the consequences, it doesn't leave much room for a happy or open environment. Starting fun rituals such as afternoon stretches or implementing something like a "silly hat day" can bring back the laughter, and make it easier to request progress updates from unfamiliar colleagues.

There's a lot that can be gained through simple changes. The 10 tactics laid out here are practical office initiatives to get started with. The hardest part is starting. I invite you to begin by writing out a few items on a post-it note and placing it somewhere visible in your work area.

Jane Wang is the CEO of myHealthSphere, a corporate health and wellness company geared towards providing the best preventative coaching solutions for employee health in the office. Jane has extensive experience with health data analytics, product technology and project management. More? Check out www.myhealthsphere.ca.

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