Employee illness and injury cost employers hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and many businesses just like yours can save money through presentation efforts and health initiatives in the workplace. You will be able to save on insurance costs, costs relating to sick leave, and improve the overall efficiency of your workplace (by reducing the number of disruptions caused by absences)
Not only that, but healthier employees are more motivated, more productive, more likely to work well together, and quicker to get back to work in the event they do get sick. Keep reading below to get some ideas on how to make your workplace a healthier one.
Diet and Dining
1) Bring in Healthy Office Snacks
Nutrition is perhaps the key factor to a healthy life, and while you’re unlikely to completely control someone’s diet, you can control what snacks and treats are available around the office. If you have unhealthy snacks such as chips and candy, we suggest replacing them with much healthier alternatives (we prefer healthy snack bars, small packets of nuts, and veggie chips).
If you think it won’t be a waste and you have a sweet tooth or two among your staff, keep some fresh fruit or dark chocolate around for those seeking a sugary pick-me-up.
A company like Snack Nation is a great delivery service for healthy office snacks.
2) Keep A List of Healthy Restaurants
Regardless of the debate on whether people should go out for lunch or dinner or whether bringing your own meal is the better choice, there are going to be people who order out if at all possible. In this case, try recommending or keeping a list of healthy take-out options in your area. If the area isn’t so friendly to healthy eaters, at least craft a list that mitigates the damage.
3) Keep the Water Cooler Stocked
Lack of proper hydration can cause a great deal of workplace illness, and sometimes it only takes a few glasses of water to take an employee from half-slumber to a clear head. Make sure that your employees don’t have to go to great lengths to get water, and consider removing soda from the workplace as well to encourage better health.
4) Encourage Healthy Recipe-Sharing
Consider creating an online office recipe listing or crafting an employee recipe-book so that employees might try new things. Try to encourage the submission of healthy recipes instead of baked goods and fried foods (delicious as they might be). This will not only keep the workload light on you but create topics of conversation in the office and encourage co-workers to get to know each other just a little better.
5) Host a Healthy Workplace Potluck
On a related note, if your office is expecting a late night or you feel the need to change the routine a little, consider organizing an office potluck so people can share those healthy recipes, except already made! By encouraging people to bring healthy dishes, you’ll hopefully give employees ideas as to healthier dishes they can make at home instead of their usual take-out.
Movement and Exercise
6) Bring in Standing Desks
If you’re in a standard office, chances are employees will be sitting down for hours on end, something that will increase the risk of various heart problems, back problems and other aches, and weight gain. Many employees don’t want this but don’t see any alternatives.
We recommend making standing desks available to employees so that those who choose don’t need to force themselves into so sedentary a lifestyle. Standing burns more calories, keeps employees slightly more active, and may even improve productivity for some employees.
7) Bring Some Work Outdoors
If your office area and industry is good for it, consider encouraging employees to take some work outside and take in the fresh air, perhaps also getting a healthy walk in as they meet with each other or make important plans.
If your building can accommodate it, you might even want to make a small outside workstation or two, setting up a table where people can bring their laptops out on a nice day.
8) Install Gym Equipment or Offer Memberships
If your company is large enough to justify it, consider using some space to set up a workplace gym where employees can get their blood flowing before or after their workday. Many people don’t go to the gym because of the hassle or commute, and your company can remove that burden, leading to a healthier lifestyle.
If an office gym isn’t a feasible option, you can still promote a healthier lifestyle by offering memberships (or membership discounts) to employees, removing the financial factor from the decision for employees.
9) Create a Workplace Sports Team
The form this suggestion takes will depend highly on if leagues or fields are available in your area, but creating an office sports team is a great way for your employees to bond outside the office while staying active. Even being on a bowling team will bring more activity into people’s lives.
If sports aren’t really an option, than even consider starting up a running group within the office to keep people invested and accountable to each other in their new habit.
10) Encourage Stair Use
It’s a simple suggestion, but it’s easy to implement and it works. Taking the stairs regularly is better exercise than most people think, and it could be a great first step to wellness for many employees. Consider putting up a notice near the office elevator or making a sign pointing people towards the stairs.
Sleep and Stress
11) Allow for Naps
A sleep-deprived employee is hardly an employee at all, and coffee, while loved, is often just a band-aid for the real problem at hand: most workers simply aren’t getting enough sleep to work at peak performance. On top of that, exhausted employees aren’t likely to take part in other workplace wellness initiatives.
While unorthodox, allowing some time for a quick nap when employees get tired might leave employees alert, focused, and far more productive, easily making up for the time spent snoozing.
12) Limit the Number of Hours Spent in the Office
While working hard can be a virtue, spending too much time at the office can be bad for an employee’s health and outright counterproductive. The increased stress will cause long-term adverse health effects throughout the body, and the lack of time will mean the employee is less likely to properly take care of themselves.
From a productivity level, it’s now known that working too many hours for more than a couple of weeks leads to diminishing returns and eventually to lost productivity from having to correct mistakes.
13) Refuse to Keep Employees too Late
On a similar note, unless the job involves a late shift, make sure that employees go home at a reasonable hour, even shutting down the office at a certain time if necessary. It is best to make sure employees go home and take some time away from work to reduce stress and maintain and healthy work-life balance.
14) Stress the Importance of Vacation
Whether it takes the form of weeklong breaks, monthlong excursions, or simply regular long weekends, even top performers need to take breaks to keep themselves sharp and healthy. American workers work more than nearly any other advanced nation, and that can mean they miss out on less stress and better cardiovascular health.
Even if you must force people to take a break, consider stressing the importance of vacation and make the work environment one that encourages the usage of vacation time, as opposed to some toxic and overcompetitive workplaces.
Programs, Incentives, and Feedback
15) Host Regular Workplace Wellness Challenges
To change things up regularly, consider hosting workplace health challenges on a weekly basis, with a prize available for the winners.
Examples could be walking a mile every day for a month, going without ordering unhealthy take-out for lunch for a period of time, or simply drinking the proper amount of water every day.
16) Help Employees Quit Smoking and Reward Them for Getting There
If there are any smokers at your workplace, quitting smoking is without a doubt the best possible thing they can do for their health. You will want to research incentive efforts based on the size of your business and implement them to keep smoke away from the workplace. Providing an additional incentive, whatever you think might be best, to smokers to quit might just be the push needed.
17) Bring the Health Professional to the Employees
Many employees won’t be able to remember the last time they saw a health professional of any sort, and this is a major problem. Having a health expert, nutritionist, or nurse come to the office to provide advice and even perform evaluations is a great way to lead employees to wellness, and such a visit may possibly catch problems before they become a major issue (for both the employee and your business)
While this is a great idea for some offices, we would like to offer the warning that some employees might see this as an invasion of privacy, so we recommend stressing that the health professional will have no ties to the company and that the services are optional. If you’re still concerned, talk to a legal professional.
18) Allow Sick Employees to Work Remotely
While in an ideal workplace employees will take the day off if they get sick, the truth is that some projects won’t rest and some employees are too passionate about their work to let sickness get in the way, even if they happen to be contagious.
The best compromise is allowing for remote work in this instance, keeping the project on track while keeping germs out of the workplace.
19) Encourage Volunteer Programs
Many volunteer or charity partnerships involve exercise and activity, whether that comes in the form of a charity walk or a team effort to clean up the local wilderness of litter. Letting employees take a day of company time to help the community also boosts employee morale and can have mental health benefits.
20) Make Your Workplace Bicycle Friendly
This could take the form of a bike-to-work program, a discount at the local bicycle shop, or just installing a few secure bike racks near the office, but making it easy for people to pedal their way to work is a way to make wellness easy for employees.
21) Take Wellness Suggestions from Employees
While we researched this topic heavily and came up with the most common and effective ideas for most offices, no one will know your employees and office like your employees themselves. We suggest taking some to explain that the business is working to improve employee wellness and is actively taking suggestions to that effect. You’ll be able to know exactly what they want and exactly what will work best.
While it’s unlikely that all the above ideas will work in your workspace, we’re certain that by implementing just a few of the above ideas you’ll be able to improve the overall health of your staff and start seeing results in a few months at most. We wish you luck with your efforts and encourage you to look further into ways your business can support wellness among employees.
Do you have any additional ideas of your own? Does your workplace have a few policies implemented already? Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.