11.7 million. That’s how many days of work were lost during a span of one year in the UK according to Health and Safety Executive. This was due to a lack of employee wellness.
Although the bottom line is always important to a business, the health and wellness of the employees are just as critical. Studies have already shown the harmful effects of working a desk job. If employees are not happy and healthy, this will reflect in the work they do.
The health of a business is directly related to the health of the employees. One cannot be sustained without the other. So how can employee health become a priority? Although there are many things that hinder wellness in the workplace, these simples steps can be taken to get on the right track.
First, an employee’s physical health needs to be taken into account. A worker sick at home doesn’t benefit anyone. Of course, if an employee does become sick, it is always recommended that they stay home instead of going to work. Not only would they be miserable working while being ill, they could potentially make others sick as well. It’s best for everyone for those who are sick to be given the time they need so they can rest and heal.
Also, by providing hand sanitizer and encouraging regular hand washing, people on average will spend less days sick at home. An extra step a company can take is providing free or discounted vaccinations. Nobody likes getting the flu. By getting a flu shot, employees are less likely to contract this illness and spread it to others.
Now it’s time to get the ball rolling on mental health in the workplace. An employee’s mental health is just as important as their physical health. However, most people are uncomfortable talking about their mental health with coworkers.
When not given the accommodations they need, individuals with mental health conditions can become less productive and require more sick days. To promote mental wellness in the workplace, companies need to foster an open and receptive culture so that employees are more comfortable sharing their needs.
Once an employee shares the details of their condition, changes can be made that will work for both the individual and the company. Another issue that should be on employers’ minds is work-related stress. Managing employee stress should be a top priority for companies, since depression and anxiety can develop when mental strain becomes too much.
The need for an open culture is also crucial for relieving stress so that employees can feel safe to discuss if their workload becomes overwhelming. Although it’s impossible to remove stress entirely, striving for a healthy balance is completely possible.
Physical fitness is key to maintaining overall health. Working a desk job has some definite hindrances to keeping up with a workout routine. However, there are ways to schedule fitness in so that the benefits of regular exercise can still be enjoyed.
Employees can take advantage of fitness opportunities if their company has an onsite gym or offers free or discounted gym memberships. Taking walks during breaks is also a way for employees to break up staying in a sedentary position for too long.
Companies can form sport teams as well that not only help employees stay in shape, but serve as a great team-building activity and form too. If employers or employees would like to track their activity, wearable tech is a great option to consider. Progress can be evaluated much more accurately when steps and heart rate can be recorded.
When employees are fit and healthy, studies have shown that productivity increases. This is due to the hormones that are produced during exercise, which helps with concentration and motivation, as well as getting a good night’s rest. Exercise is also linked to the growth of the hippocampus of the brain, leading to the improvement of learning skills and memory.
Nutrition is one of the simplest improvements to aid in better health. What to eat should be given as much thought as what to think and how to exercise. Instead of filling up the company break room with unhealthy junk food, opt for more nutritious snacks such as fruit and granola bars.
Hosting a wellness seminar is also an option to inform both employers and employees of the benefits of eating healthy and what those healthy choices look like. Companies can also reach out to healthy restaurants nearby to set up an employee discount. Both the company and restaurant will benefit by having more productive employees and more regular customers, respectively.
Promoting health and wellness in the workplace is not a simple feat. Several factors must be taken into account, such as employees’ physical and mental health. Companies can aid in their workers’ well-being by promoting physical exercise and good nutritional choices. As employees begin to take the steps they need and their health starts to rise, productivity and progress is sure to come.
I'm a people-person through and through. When I'm not elbows-deep in the inner workings of small business retail, I'm negotiating the mesmerizing world of online community-building and dreaming of new, creative ways to help people connect through the written word.