When the Founder and Chairman of an international company is diagnosed with cancer at the age of 56, it is not usually expected that an announcement would be immediately made to all the clients and field operations around the world. But that’s just what I did.
As the Founder of BNI, the world’s largest referral networking company in the world, I began
blogging, honestly and openly, discussing my health, the physical and emotional struggles I
faced, as well as the challenges of being the owner of a multi-million dollar business all while
working to heal from prostate cancer. I decided to not only transform my own health habits,
but my office’s as well. After implementing a few healthy tweaks around the workplace, I
discovered that my staff became more energetic, more productive, positive and creative. Now in
remission, I’m on a mission to help other workplaces across America become healthier and more
Now understand, you can’t just take away the donuts and give them carrots instead. Surprising
your staff with a juicer where the soda machine used to be could cause a revolt! The key is to
get your employees on board and ease them into these positive workplace changes. Most they’ll
love right from the start, but a few of them might take a little getting used to, but the benefits
are powerful. As an employer, you’re always trying to get the most out of your employees. By
making these small changes, many of which don’t cost much, you can cut down on sick days,
midday doctor’s visits, and those infamous afternoon energy slumps.
5 CHANGES BUSINESS OWNERS AND OFFICE MANAGERS can make that will boost
the health of their employees:
1) Install a water filtration system with hot and cold water. Having access to pure water, not
plastic water bottles or tap water, will encourage your staff to hydrate well. Hydrated brains
are productive brains. Drinking soda, coffee and black teas dehydrate our bodies. BNI provides
coffee makers and staff members are welcome to bring soda from home or drink tea of their
choice, but if herbal teas and fresh, purified water is available, they are just as likely to drink
these provided beverages.
2)Engage the entire office in a doctor-approved, body detox program. One of the very first
things I did after receiving his cancer diagnosis was to complete the 8-Day Detox developed by
Dr. Bill Kellas at the Center for Advanced Medicine. Doing a body detox is a great way to help
the body eliminate the toxins which can be contributing to weakened immune systems, frequent
colds and flus, which account for a lot of sick time being taken by your staff. The BNI staff was
invited to do this 8-Day Detox together. Nine of my staff members participated together in the
detox. Doing something like a cleanse or detox together gives those participating the support and
accountability to complete it.
3)Provide healthy alternatives at staff luncheons and celebrations. Most offices provide lunch
for their staff from time to time. This gives a good chance to evaluate what you’re feeding your
employees. If your lunches are centered on burgers, fries and milkshakes, consider adding some
healthy alternatives such as turkey burgers, whole wheat buns, fresh juices and salads. Not
everyone will eat the healthy food, but there are many who would appreciate having a choice. At
birthday celebrations, include a fruit platter with the cake and ice cream.
4) Start a walking club at work. You’d be surprised at how many of your employees would come
early to the office to walk together! Walking in the early morning can be invigorating and give
everyone a jump start on the day. Walking is not something which is going to make your staff
wish for a second shower before starting the day at the office. At BNI a free weekly Qi Gong/Tai
Chi class is held in a spare office over the lunch hour. I’ve found this gives my staff a chance to
relax, refocus and refresh in the middle of the day.
5) Keep morale high in the workplace. Having a strong morale has always been a focus at BNI,
but after my diagnosis, it was even more important. Mental attitude has such a profound impact
on health that we started a “Daymaker Initiative” based on David Wagner’s book, Life As a
Daymaker. The focus on making someone else’s day better really captured the interest of the
BNI staff. The number of compliments flying around the office, little niceties and random acts of
kindness soared after I provided David’s book to everyone and held a staff meeting to introduce
the initiative. Simply creating a positive environment can make your office a healthier place to
WHAT ARE THREE SIGNS YOUR OFFICE IS IN NEED OF A “HEALTH MAKE
Negativity in the workplace. People who do not feel well overall tend to have a more negative
outlook on life . . . both personally and professionally. When suffering all day with a headache
or fatigue, it is hard to feel or act positive and cheerful. If you notice that the overall energy level
of your office is low or negative, then perhaps it is time to brighten things up by focusing on
recapturing high levels of health in your office.
If one person gets a cold or flu, many others get it. When everyone’s immune system is
strong, colds and flus do not get passed around quite so easily. Some offices bring in a healthcare
worker to administer flu shots each year, although the efficacy of these shots has not been proven
by medical studies! At BNI the focus on building health takes an approach of building up the
staff’s own immune systems to prevent the spread of colds and flus. If you find that your office
goes through times where quite a few employees are out sick at the same time, you may want to
evaluate whether a health make over is needed.
Many of your staff members are overweight. When the metabolism slows down and people
gain a significant amount of weight, other systems in the body are also compromised. The
immune system and the liver (which plays a large role in the strength of the immune system)
usually do not function as well in people with slower metabolisms. When I focused on boosting
my immune system and engaging my liver in the healing process, I easily lost nearly 40 pounds,
all while eating four to five times per day. The difference eating fresh fruits, vegetables, and
antibiotic-free and hormone-free chicken and seafood was simply amazing. While my immune
system became stronger, I naturally and easily dropped the extra weight I’d been carrying for
years. Take an objective look at your staff. If you realize that more than 10% of your employees
are overweight or obese (with a Body Mass Indicator ((BMI)) of 30-39.9), then your office may
benefit greatly from a health make over.
YOU CAN’T CHANGE THINGS OVER NIGHT!
I found that the key to moving my staff into a healthy paradigm at work is to make incremental changes, rather than coming in all at once and making sweeping changes. Not everyone in the office will be excited about embracing a healthy lifestyle, but many will. Most people need to make changes and know it, but they may not know how to make those changes, or they may lack the motivation or willpower to do it.
Having a healthy, supportive focus at work among others with whom to share this positive shift can make all the difference!
Called the "father of modern networking" by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times
bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.BNI.com
), the world's
largest business networking organization. His book, Networking Like a Pro, can be viewed