How Project Managers Can Motivate Team Members to Stay Healthy

In the fast-paced environment of project management, it can be easy to get lost in tasks and deadlines and thus forget to prioritize your personal health. In fact, this is a struggle in the larger world of work, as CNBC reports low levels of employee well-being due to heavy workloads, long hours, and workplace stress. While companies and organizations can make an effort to improve employee health and well-being through equitable pay and flexible schedules, project managers should also leverage their roles to look after their team members. Here are some ways project managers can motivate team members to stay healthy for increased job satisfaction, productivity, and work-life balance.

Schedule Necessary Breaks

No matter how close you are to a project deadline, ensure team members take short breaks between tasks or meetings. Studies show that a majority (85%) of employees who take regular breaks during the workday are able to boost their productivity, while 37% said that these breaks contribute to health improvement. Although guilt can sometimes hold employees back from taking a break, encourage necessary downtime by setting up a well-stocked, comfortable break room. If your team works remotely, set calendar notifications or alerts reminding team members to stretch, drink water, or step away from their desks even for just five minutes.

Encourage Progress Tracking

While team members can set their own health and wellness goals, your role as a project manager is to encourage them to make progress through habitual tracking. Similar to how a project manager’s roles & responsibilities include using trackers for task organization, resource management, and goal-setting, you can help employees track their daily eating or exercise habits to visualize achievements and areas of improvement. This can be done by using a physical journal or a health and wellness app where users can set daily, weekly, or monthly goals. Since you’re also uniquely positioned to know the team members’ individual strengths and weaknesses as their manager, you can communicate with them to keep them aligned with their goals and provide support, motivation, and encouragement throughout their respective health and fitness journeys.

Offer Healthy Eating Options

Beyond family and friends, coworkers can also be an influential factor in employees’ healthy choices. A study published in BMC Public Health found a positive correlation between employees’ eating behaviors and their colleagues’ fruit and vegetable consumption. As such, your role as a manager is to be a positive influence and make healthy eating an easy choice within the workplace. This means ordering nutritious meals for workplace meetings or offering fruits, nuts, and protein bars as break room snacks. If your workplace has a cafeteria, meet with other managers to collaborate on a nutritionally dense and diverse menu for your respective team members.

Plan Healthy Team-building Activities

Project teams are accustomed to team-building activities aimed at improving collaboration, morale, and dynamics between the members. But as explained in a previous post, morale building is about cultivating the mind, body, and spirit all at once. Instead of resorting to traditional games and activities during team events or hangouts, look for ways to combine physical and emotional exercises. These can come in the form of group yoga for strength, flexibility, and mindfulness or corporate fun runs that encourage physical endurance and stress management. Ultimately, the goal is to support one another in living healthier, more active lifestyles.

As you take into account the tips mentioned above, remember to also be motivated in your own health journey, as it’s easier for team members to stay healthy when they have a good role model to look up to. Praise and positive reinforcement can also go a long way in making team members feel recognized for their hard work and healthy lifestyle transformations.

Contributed to pmStudent by:

Jenny Rothe is a freelance writer with a penchant for topics in business and consumer technology. Her dream is to travel the world as a digital nomad and build a marketing startup that she can manage from any corner of the globe.