Walking is a simple, low-impact and effective form of exercise. When it’s paired with a task, like walking to work, the benefits increase: Not only do business owners and staff get some extra physical activity, they also cut down on the environmental impact of driving to work. Taking the pedestrian route to work also allows you to take in the surrounding environment, whether it means enjoying nature’s beauty or just noticing details you haven’t before.
A holiday that celebrates the benefits of walking to work and walking in general is fast approaching, and small business owners can play a special role in the effort. National Walk to Work Day – also called National Walking Day, a recent change developed to broaden its scope – is observed on the first Friday of the month of April each year in much of the country. It’s worth noting that some cities, like San Francisco, celebrate the day on April 6, and other organizations and areas observe the day and similar events on April 5.
How can you contribute to National Walk to Work Day as a small business owner and incorporate it into your operations?
Make it a team-building event
Whether you’re in charge of a few workers or a few dozen, National Walk to Work Day offers a chance to boost employee engagement in a fun, unique and visible way. The San Francisco Walks program offered some guidelines that help everyone participate, whether they can easily make it to work on foot in a few minutes or commute many miles. Here are a few logistical suggestions for making this approach feasible for everyone involved:
- Set a safe, easily walkable distance. San Francisco Walks uses an informal measure of 15 minutes, which is equal to about three-quarters of a mile at average walking speed. Depending on where your business is located, you may have to go with a shorter distance. Suggest that employees park in municipal lots and other free parking areas and then walk the rest of the way. Make sure employees have a safe pedestrian path to your business from the chosen locations. Note the day isn’t mandatory, and any employees with concerns about participating don’t have to do so.
- Tell them to dress appropriately. For employees who don’t regularly walk to work, a reminder about the need for comfortable shoes and weather-appropriate attire can go a long way.
- Provide a reward or refreshment for those who participate. This token doesn’t need to be much, but a cold bottle or glass of water and a genuine thank you for participating can help employees feel appreciated.
- Considerations for employees with staggered shifts. Many companies won’t have every employee on duty from open until close. This is an easy enough obstacle to work around with a little forethought. Encourage employees to walk no matter when they start their shifts and give encouragement to each other as they make the trek to your business or back home.
Promote your involvement
Health and wellness is a popular topic for many Americans. You can highlight your participation in National Walk to Work Day inside your store and on social media to show your business cares about the issue as well.
Depending on the nature of your organization, you can follow a number of different avenues. Restaurants can consider featuring low-calorie and nutritionally balanced meals as specials, while bars can offer free water to walkers – and potentially draw them in for a drink or two as well. For retailers, a small discount or other promotion for patrons who walk into your store can attract attention, especially when it’s promoted with signage in windows and on sidewalks – perhaps funded in part through a cash advance for business owners – as well as through social networks.
Another angle to consider is the participation of other businesses in your commercial district, neighborhood or town. If you know your neighboring businesses, check in and see if they’ll participate. You can also reach out to the local chamber of commerce to see if they have any info and make a call to town hall to see if there’s any involvement planned on the municipal level.
National Walk to Work Day is a great opportunity to engage your staff about fitness and activity in an easy and positive way. Be on the lookout for related opportunities throughout the year and you can create a welcoming attitude about fitness for your staff, a strategy that benefits you and your workers.