How Can Companies Promote Employee Health in the New Year
Healthy employees are happy employees. When your workforce is physically and mentally well, they’ll be motivated and able to work much more productively, with fewer sick days. Your employer responsibility will include looking after your staff and your duty of care in the workplace can extend to improve their mental and physical wellbeing.
The new year is a great time to review some of your practices to see where you can improve how you promote health amongst your employees. Below are some great ways you can make both small and big changes to improve your staff’s physical and mental wellbeing.
Implement Flexible Working Hours
Flexible hours can bring many health benefits to employees, both physically and mentally. It can allow your staff to work at their optimum times, with early birds able to start earlier, and night owls able to work later. This can help to reduce stress on your employees and also means they’ll be able to work more productively.
Flexitime working can also allow staff to take medical appointments, which is especially important if they have regular weekly or monthly appointments that might occur during the usual 9-5 hours. By giving them the opportunity to take their appointments and not worry about missing work, they’ll feel less stressed and also able to look after their health. Flexible working also means employees are better able to deal with any emergencies that might arise, which will again reduce their stress levels and improve their mental wellbeing.
Flexible working can also give employees an opportunity to exercise and improve their physical health. They might need more time in the morning to go to the gym, or a longer lunch break to exercise and shower before they return to work. If your employees don’t have to travel at rush hour, they may feel more comfortable cycling to work. When employees aren’t stuck on a strict 9-5 schedule, they can create an exercise routine that works for them and so will be more likely to stick to regular exercise.
Offer Healthy Food
You could provide healthy and nutritious snacks for your employees, to encourage them to eat healthily. If you have vending machines, make sure they’re stocked with a variety of snacks, including healthy options. Offer a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables in the break room or kitchen, so employees always have the choice of a healthy snack. Variety is key, as people will likely get bored if they have the same thing all the time - so make sure to change up the selection regularly to keep people interested.
If you have a cafeteria, review the menu and make sure there are always healthy and nutritious options on offer. Healthy food is often more expensive than ‘junk’ food, so provide a discount for healthy food to encourage people to choose that selection. If you don’t have meal facilities on site, look at the restaurants, cafes, and shops near your premises and find the ones that provide nutritious food. You can then send the list to your staff to encourage them to pick healthy food when they’re deciding what to have for their lunch.
You could also help to encourage your staff to cook nutritious meals and snacks for themselves. You could hold a regular event where one employee cooks something healthy and then brings it in for everyone to eat, either for lunch or for a snack. If you have employees who are remote working, you could ask one person to come up with a healthy recipe every week or month which everyone then has to cook. They can then show off their creations on a video call. By working together, you can better encourage everyone to eat more nutritious food.
You should encourage your employees to find an exercise routine that they enjoy and that works for their lifestyle. If you have space on your premises, you could set up an area where people can work out, either with an inside gym or using outside space. If possible, you should also include shower facilities on site, making it easier for people to exercise and freshen up so they can return to work. You could encourage people to bike to work by having these shower facilities and building bike racks where people can store their bikes during the day. There are several ‘bike to work’ schemes which companies can join which offer discounts on biking equipment for their employees, which can really help to encourage people to take that step to start cycling regularly.
You could also coordinate walking or running clubs for employees to take part in on their lunch break or before or after work. You could even help to map out local routes that can be taken. If you have remote workers, they can still get involved by running or walking a set number of miles every day or every week, and you can have video meetings to discuss how everyone has got on. By working together, people will feel more motivated to get outside and get moving when they have the support of others. It can also be a good opportunity for your workforce to meet and talk on a social basis, strengthening their team bond.
You could also encourage people to take part in desk exercise, creating a resource of stretches and movement that everyone can take part in at their desk throughout the day. This can really help to combat the aches and pains that come with sitting at a desk for extended periods of time. It can also give employees an opportunity to take regular breaks, which can help to reduce the risk of burnout.
Have Clear Lines of Communication
A healthy mind at work is just as important as physical health. You should make sure to regularly check in with all your employees, both in the office and any that are remote working, to look out for signs of occupational burnout and open up communication. You should make sure everyone has the chance to voice any problems they may be having with their workload or working from home fatigue, and make sure you have the resources in place to help them.
You could schedule monthly one-on-one meetings between line managers and their staff, where they can talk in-depth about the work they’re undertaking and any concerns they have. You could also have weekly or even daily team meetings, where everyone has a chance to check-in with each other and assess the workload.
By making sure everyone can speak freely about how they feel about their workload, you can ensure that burnout is avoided and anyone who is struggling is able to quickly get the support that they require. When your employees feel less stressed about their work, their mental wellbeing will be improved, and they’ll be motivated to work productively.
Supply the Correct Tools
It’s vital that employees have the right tools to work with. If their workstation isn’t set up correctly, employees will develop bad posture which will result in pain, muscle tension, and fatigue. This can even lead to more serious and ongoing health problems.
Ergonomic office equipment can be a huge help to improving employees’ posture whilst they’re working and preventing aches and pains. With the right ergonomic workstation, employees will work more comfortably and avoid physical health issues that come with poor posture and lack of movement. For example, the Leitz Ergo Cosy Adjustable Laptop Stand raises the user’s screen to a comfortable level, so they can work at a better posture. An adjustable keyboard wrist rest or adjustable mouse wrist rest can help the user to hold their wrist in the correct position, so they can work more comfortably for longer.
You can also provide office equipment that promotes both better posture and also movement, like the Leitz Ergo WOW Adjustable Computer Foot Rest. This under desk foot rest means the user can hold their feet and legs in a comfortable position to prevent ache. Plus, the curved underside results in a rocking motion, which promotes healthy circulation and movement whilst the user is working.
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