“Take care of your employees and they’ll take care of the business”
– Sir Richard Branson
It is well documented that too much stress in the workplace leads to employee burnout and a costly payout for employers. Fortunately, more and more companies are increasingly investing into developing effective wellness programmes (often led by a dedicated ‘Health and Wellbeing Lead’) for their employees to: promote the benefits of positive health, improve employee productivity, promote healthy working relationships and reduce the costly outgoings of sick pay and staff cover.
Why is this important?
Investing in the health of employees has shown to positivly correlate with how engaged staff will be in doing their job. Therefore, as employees spend over 1/3 of their waking hours in work, employers should make the business a fantastic place to be, so that employees want to be there, they feel valued by their employer, they stay engaged in their daily tasks, they are engaged with their colleagues and they are engaged with their own physical and mental health. In return, it is likely that business’ recruit and retain staff well and that the business will be portrayed as a brilliant place to work by others.
What can be done?
While it is acknowledged that every business is different, all with varying budgets and abilities to implement strategies, here is a list of 10 ideas that every employer can do to make a start on taking the time to look after employee health.
- Free Fruit Friday – Forget the cake table and invest in ‘Free Fruit Friday’. Contact a local fruit stall or business that can deliver a box of nutritious and healthy goodies on a Friday morning so that employees can enjoy a juicy piece of fruit for breakfast, lunch or as a mid-afternoon snack. This will encourage employees to aim for their 5-a-day goal and it will discourage the urge of visiting the vending machine for some chocolate at 3pm!
- Lunch Away from The Desk – Create a new, simple policy that does not allow employees to eat at their desk. This will bring much relief to nearby colleagues who are fed up of listening to the sounds of their neighbours’ chewing, but it also encourages employees to get up, stretch their legs and have a change of scenery.
- Lunch Time Yoga – Yoga, which originated in India, aims to connect the mind and body. During a class, various positions and postures are held which aims to improve: flexibility, balance, co-ordination, breathing, strength, mental health, high blood pressure and aches. Each position is named after a living organism (cobra, dolphin, tree) and doesn’t require much space or any equipment, therefore it can be done in any space that enables a person to lye down. How about promoting some mid-week yoga for 30 minutes in one of the unused office rooms to allow employees to de-stress? See if any employees are trained Yoga teachers, or hire a local teacher to pop in to provide some professional guidance once a week.
- Pre/Post Work Running Club – There’s nothing like starting or ending the day with a run to beat stress, increase endorphins and create social inclusion. Promote your work’s running club by using eye-catching posters and sending out encouraging emails. Find a basic route to start with that can be tailored to meet the needs of different people; if it becomes really popular, create 2 different routes so that beginners (or those who don’t want to run far) can go one way, and keen runners who are of a faster pace can go another.
- Ban the Junk Food Table – Quite simply, discourage people from bringing in packs of unhealthy biscuits and cakes for the social table. Often, people do not actually want to consume these excess calories but either feel obliged or find it difficult to resist the temptation. Instead, opt for a fruit/vegetable table.
- Ban Employees using the lifts (unless there are exceptions) – Unless employees are physically unable to use the stairs as a result of carrying a heavy load or are unable because of a disability, there is really no need for employees to use the lift, no matter which floor they’re on. Not only will this save electricity, the steps will go towards meeting the 10,000 steps-a-day goal and the physical activity recommendations (5 x 30 mins per-week).
- Feedback – Seek feedback once a month via an anonymous email to get an idea of the general physical and mental health status of your employees and allow a section for suggestions. This will allow you as an employer to understand how your staff are feeling and it also allows employees to be a part of the health and wellbeing process, they may even suggest some great ideas!
- Breakfast Club – Whether you have a canteen or kitchen, encourage a breakfast club once a week to decrease the number of employees skipping breakfast and increase social interaction!
- Gym Discounts – If you’re lucky enough to be near a gym, swimming pool or leisure centre, pop in and bargain your way into some good deals for your employees. One example could be ensuring a discount on membership for those under your employment. Or, perhaps once a month the company could hire a hall and employees could take part in a ‘social badminton tournament’. Finally, staff could take part in a ‘health raffle’ and the winner could get their hands on 4 free swims!
- Water availability – Nobody performs well dehydrated, so invest in a water cooler/fountain or a batch of water bottles that can be easily taken from the fridge. There are so many benefits to water such as: increased concentration and focus, boost to the immune system, cure for headaches, increased physical performance and an aid for weight loss.
Investing in employee health is vastly beneficial, so make a positive change this week at your workplace and watch your employees thrive! We hope that you enjoyed reading this and have left with plentiful ideas that can be tailored to your workplace. If you’re already a company that takes pride in their employee’s health, please do comment below on your tricks and tips, we would love to hear from you!
© 2017 Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.