How do you involve colleagues with children in your vitality initiative? 🧑‍🍼

‘Oy... that won't work, I have to pick up my kids from school in a minute.’ Do you recognise that some employees with children find it difficult to get involved in your vitality initiative? It can sometimes be a challenge to keep them involved in your vitality initiative because you also well understand that they have other priorities and responsibilities. Fortunately, it is certainly not impossible. We talked to HR managers who recognised this challenge and shared solutions with us. With these handy solutions, you can take employees with children by the hand and let them participate in your vitality initiative worry-free.

Time to read: 5 minutes

How do you involve colleagues with children in your vitality initiative? 🧑‍🍼

Employees with children have to keep several balls up at once. They juggle different schedules, including tight schedules for the children's school, hobbies, and sports activities. As a result, they sometimes forget to take a moment for themselves or work on healthy habits. Parents face numerous obstacles, which can make it challenging to involve them in your vitality initiative. As an HR manager, you want to offer an initiative that feels approachable to these busy employees.

Being a parent is a sport 🤹

As a parent, the day often starts in high gear. The ritual of cycling to school to drop the children off on time is a marathon in itself. It is a non-stop activity that often goes unnoticed when it comes to discussing vitality in the workplace. Parents take this for granted, but you can include this in your vitality initiative in a fun way. You can highlight these daily sporting activities of employees with children with your initiative a bit more by implementing a 'Parent of the Month/Week' programme, for example. For example, in a newsletter, have an employee with children tell a bit about his or her healthy habits that she is already subconsciously performing by picking up a child from school by bike. Perhaps this will motivate other employees with children to take the bike more often sometimes, or to cycle a different longer route together with the child. Or create a special hall-of-fame for employees with children. Highlight the parent who scores best during your vitality initiative. You can also motivate employees who are parents by setting up a special competition. Create a series of challenging activities that all employees can participate in but create a special competition with hall-of-fame for employees with children. Imagine: The ‘Race of the Raging Parents’! How special that even they, with all the extra responsibilities they carry, can pop during your vitality initiative. We all know the power of a little friendly rivalry.

The golden mix of employees and their mini versions 👪

Imagine you have an enthusiastic employee eager to participate in your organised running race. Later, the parent finds out that he or she is caring for a child during that weekend and, therefore, cannot be at the running race. Super unfortunate, of course. This is a dilemma that sometimes comes around the corner unexpectedly. An effective way to involve colleagues with children in your vitality initiative is to organise activities and events in which both parents and children can participate. Consider a family-friendly running race where the child can participate or a sports day where parents and children form teams. Organise a boot camp session where parents and children can participate together or invite parents to participate with their children in cooking workshops that focus on healthy meals. By taking this approach, you take the worry away from a parent, allowing this colleague to focus on your initiative and also have more fun during the event. In addition, you also enthuse the children so that your vitality initiative lives within the family. The family will work together to get the most out of your initiative by, for example, working out together or being more conscious of food.

Of course, there is not always the space and time for a large-scale event. You can also involve the employee's child with small initiatives. For example, by setting up a 'Family Fit Challenge', parents and children can take part in activities together and earn points for their efforts. From joint walks and bike rides to sports games in the garden. Think of different activities a family can do both at school and work, as well as healthy challenges they can do together in their free time. Guaranteed to be an enthusiastic conversation over dinner about earning more points, and maybe it will be the children who come up with their own ideas.

Think back to when you had a drawing competition in primary school. That jitters you experienced as a child during the start and submission moment is a feeling every child experiences. Children, and often adults too, love competitions. You can add different events to your vitality initiative to increase the competitive component. For example, organise an event at the end of the initiative where the parent or child who has completed the most points or exercises wins a prize. Each family can be a team or you can work in pairs. Children of employees can become a team where they compete against a team with all parents, or you, as HR manager, can create your own pairs. Use the competitive aspect as a game to actively involve the whole family in your vitality initiative.

From nappies to lunges outside working hours 🍼

We all have busy days at work from time to time. Then we eat an easy meal, laundry shifts to tomorrow and you might go to bed early. For employees with a child, extra care for another person is added to that. Evenings filled with nappies, cuddles, and bedtime stories. Jogging after work? Forget it. There are several ways through which your vitality initiative can fit a little better within these parents' tight schedules. For example, consider a workout at home while the little ones sleep. A dance in the living room, or a few yoga exercises before bed. When your vitality initiative is filled with small short exercises, it is easy for your colleagues to carry it out between their busy schedules. Take a good look at your vitality initiative and ask yourself if you might be able to add or modify components so that employees with children can adopt a healthy new habit into their current routine. For these employees, it's all about finding those little moments between the chaos to work on their own vitality.

You may remember this from the past; doing homework was almost never fun. This is a great opportunity for an employee with a teenager at home to use this time for the vitality initiative. For example, for every correct answer to a question, the employee can do a squat. Children find it hilarious to turn the tables and give parents a task. This creates an opportunity to engage in vitality and is a motivating way to get the child to do homework. It's a moment together that the employee shares with the child so doesn't waste time. You can involve this in your vitality initiative in different ways. First, share the idea with employees that they can also contribute to the vitality initiative in this fun way. Then make sure your vitality initiative consists of small components they can easily do at home. Suppose you offer weekly yoga sessions with your vitality initiative and employees with teenage children cannot make it to participate. You can turn this initiative into a homework activity where each correct answer represents a simple one-minute stretch exercise. Take a short walk around the house with each correct answer during a steps initiative.

In addition, a parent is often involved in the child's hobbies and activities. This is an opportunity for the employee. ‘How so?’ we hear you thinking, ‘Surely this actually reduces time and stressful situations!’. You can turn this involvement around in a positive way by allowing the employee to share the hobby or passion with the child at the same time. Encourage these employees to look for alternative activities while waiting for their children during sports lessons or other activities. Perhaps even within the same sports club. For example, they can play sports near the venue or join a group class. Perhaps themselves within the same club. They can also use these moments to look for healthy recipes, for example, while waiting for their children. This encourages healthy eating and allows employees with children to be actively involved in the vitality initiative, even during busy times.

Uniting Dads and Moms in the workplace 🤝

As a busy parent, seeing or hearing that they are not alone is nice. Think back to a less pleasant moment when you initially thought it would only happen to you. It probably relieved you immensely when someone told you that he or she has been through exactly the same thing or would react the same way. In stressful or difficult situations, having a like-minded person around you can be a huge relief. All parents go through difficult moments and who better to give advice than a colleague who has gone through exactly the same thing with his or her child?

As an HR manager, you can support employees with children within your vitality initiative by putting them in touch with other employees with children. They can give each other the perfect tips on how to combine your vitality initiative with all the busy schedules and responsibilities of a child. For example, you could schedule a meeting for these employees at half-time of the initiative. Colleagues who find it difficult to focus on the initiative can sign up and share their pitfalls. Also, invite some parents who have found a special way to make everything run smoothly at their place and ask them to share the tips they apply. Try to create a community where a colleague can help another colleague who is both parents. After all, they have the best working tips.

You could also see these discussions as valuable information for your new vitality initiative. If you want to tackle the problems they face in advance, it is also an idea to let their voices be heard before the launch of the initiative. Invite them to a discussion where they can already express their reservations and resistance. Share your idea about the vitality initiative and give them space to have your initiative tailored to them. The thought, ‘Yes, nice idea, but that won't work at all for me, with children, anyway’ During the start of your initiative, you can turn around to enthusiastic employees who believe they too can participate. When employees with children have come into contact with each other, it is an idea to involve this aspect in your vitality initiative actively. Some employees want to play sports but cannot leave a child at home alone. This major obstacle can be conveniently solved by having colleagues work together. For example, children can take turns staying at another colleague's house. This is both fun for the children who can play together for an hour and convenient for the staff who can play sports together. The idea that colleagues can support each other can be done in several ways. Picking up and bringing to school could perhaps be shared, babysitting and meal times could be taken over from each other. There is a good chance that this may not be possible for every parent in every organisation, but if it manages to take a major worry away from as few as 2 or 3 employees in this way, it is already a big win.

As an HR manager, you understand all too well how precious time is, especially for employees who are parents of children. Being a parent is a sport in itself, a non-stop activity that often goes unnoticed when it comes to discussing vitality in the workplace. These employees' daily lives are often ruled by tight schedules, from juggling meals to rushing to hobbies and doing homework together. These moments can also be opportunities for vitality without sacrificing extra time. By making small adjustments and supporting parents, as an HR manager, you can keep them involved in your vitality initiative.

Want to work together to find a vitality initiative that fits well with the lifestyles and full schedules of employees with children? Schedule an appointment with one of us, and let's have a digital cup of coffee soon.