Employees are the best asset of every organisation, and putting effort into employee wellness can encourage better teamwork, increased productivity and reduce sick leave and workplace accidents.
Ideally, you would create a workplace wellness plan or strategy with your team. Put together your favourite suggestions from the list below, and arrange a time to speak to your team about ways you could work together to create better employee health as a company.
Once you’ve agreed on a program, continue to assess the outcomes, and regularly survey your team to gather feedback. Maybe trial doing different activities each month, and then after six months, review the program, and find out what your employees think of each activity.
You could even reward the team with prizes for participation, or a random draw. Just be careful not to make it competitive, and add further to employee stress levels.
Focus on general prevention
general prevention is much cheaper and easier than cures. What are the overall factors that affect your employee health, and what can you do as a manager to implement a few organisation wide programs, to help affect them positively?
1. Have a doctor visit your workplace and speak to your employees about common health issues
2. Consider offering a rebate for, or arranging onsite, flu vaccinations
3. Look at offering rebates or incentives on health insurance
Encourage healthier eating
Most of us know that eating healthy can help prevent future diseases such as diabetes and cancer, however did you know that unhealthy eating is linked with a 66 percent increased risk of loss of productivity, according to a study published in science journal, Population Health Management. So, healthy eating actually equates to more productive employees – a win for both the individual and the business!
4. Provide a fridge for employees to bring in healthy lunches from home
5. Provide a fruit bowl for free fruit
6. Buy healthy lunches for team meetings
7. Replace sugary drinks in your staff fridge with healthy options such as juices, etc
8. Consider installing a juicer, blender and sandwich press so your team can make their lunches
9. Develop a healthy food and drink workplace policy including a healthy catering policy
10. If you have in-house catering, provide and consider subsidising healthy food and drink options.
11. When arranging catering, identify healthy options on all menus, and restrict unhealthy options
12. Ensure any on-site vending machines contain water and low energy drinks and snacks
Develop a smoke free workplace
As we are all aware, tobacco smoking is a large reason for deaths around the world. According to the CDC, that equates to seven million deaths every year from tobacco use.
Reducing the effects of smoking in the workplace is paramount to better employee health. Here are a few different methods you could consider using to reduce smoking in the workplace and generally amongst your employees.
13. Ensure your workplace and all company vehicles are smoke free
14. Develop a smoke-free company events policy
15. Encourage employees to join a ‘quit smoking’ program and consider subsiding these programs
16. Encourage employees to talk to their doctor about quitting smoking
17, Subsidise aids to quit smoking such as nicotine replacement patches or therapy
Encourage more physical exercise
Encouraging employees to exercise is a great way to encourage better employee health. It needn’t be expensive either, with plenty of low cost methods, including;
18. Provide wearable trackers such as a Fitbit or Jawbone to all the team
19. Encourage walking meetings (around the block, anyone?)
20. Provide allowance for public transport if available nearby
21. Create and fund an employee sports team
22. Enter employees in fun runs and charity events
23. Install bike racks in your staff carpark
24. If choosing a new work place location, pick a location near train or bus station
25. If you have a elevator, encourage the team to take the stairs
26. Buy employees a gym membership as a gift or incentive
27. Have a yoga instructor or fitness coach come in and run sessions in the workplace
28. Install a shower for employees who ride or run to your workplace
Improve mental health
Recent reports have shown that ignoring mental health costs at least $11 billion to Australian companies alone. We all have a responsibility to look out for one another. Some ways you can do this in the workplace, include;
29. Creating a company wide mental health plan
30. Offer rebates to see a counsellor if required
31. Encourage positive communication in the workplace
32. Train managers on mental health strategies
33. Run employee polls or surveys to get valuable feedback on how the morale is
34. Keep an eye on your colleagues and know what to look for
35. Have strategies to avoid bullying and unprofessional behaviour in your workplace
36. Have a professional come in and give advice on stress reduction techniques to all employees
37. Look at running a meditation course or weekly reflection time
We cover more in our article about employee mental health.
Avoid long chair time
Scientists at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center analysed the lifestyles of more than 17,000 American men and women over about 13 years, and found that people who sit for most of the day are 54% more likely to die of heart attacks. That’s right; fifty four percent!
38. Install standing desks
39. Install cycle chairs
40. Encourage stand up meetings
41. Have an expert come in and review ergonomic environment
42. Encourage the team to take regular breaks during the day
43. Run a 10 minute stretch program each day (twice a day even better)
44. Ask your team to eat lunch away from their computers
We’ve written an article on exercises your team can do at their desks which may help.
“When your boss and colleagues care enough to invest in your health, it is good for you and the business.”
– Tom Rath
Encourage healthy weights
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, about 80% of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese, and in 2009, Diabetes was the seventh biggest killer in the USA. By encouraging your team to have healthier body weight, you are encouraging them to live longer, happier lives.
45. Provide employees with information about how to maintain a healthy weight
46. Encourage employees to call government run health lines
47. Invite a dietician in to speak to your team at an event
48. Subsidise employee participation in weight management programs
49. Encourage employees to talk to their doctor and/or an accredited practising dietitian about their weight
Reduce alcohol intake
According to health professionals, there are a significant number of alcohol-related diseases and health problems caused by alcohol consumption, including cancer (bowel, breast, throat, mouth, liver), liver and cardiovascular disease, stroke and heart failure and mental health problems.
We all have an obligation to encourage better employee health, and some methods include;
50. Develop an ‘alcohol at my workplace’ policy
51. Promote responsible drinking at any company events, such as celebrations or social events
52. Provide non alcoholic options at all company functions
53. Avoid regularly providing alcohol at your workplace
54. Consider workplace stress as a trigger to high-risk or problem drinking
55. Provide employees with information about the risks of high-risk and problem drinking
56. Encourage employees to talk to their doctor about their alcohol consumption
57. Encourage employees to join an appropriate program which aims to address problem drinking
“Individuals will achieve healthier lifestyles when prevention and wellness programs are accessible and available in their workplace, through their health provider, and in their communities.”
– Rob Wittman
As we all know, exercising more, eating properly, drinking more water, managing stress levels and having the support of your workplace makes a huge difference in how you perform at work.
All of us can do our part to help encourage a healthier workforce.
Having healthy employees reduces time taken in leave, creates more motivated and happier employees and importantly displays that you care for your team and their well being. Don’t forget yourself either!
Remember to monitor any program you put into place and don’t forget to constantly ask your team for feedback, either in person or by using employee surveys.
We wish you (and your team) the best of luck!