According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), paying proper attention to workers’ health has many benefits. Promoting health at work can help encourage employees to be more productive, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and boost job satisfaction. It’s also been proven that investing in workplace health promotion actually saves companies money in lowering absenteeism. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.
So, here are some simple steps you can start taking today to help encourage a healthy workplace and help employees thrive.
1. Healthy eating & drinking
A good place to begin is with nutrition. Workplaces can be notorious for the temptation of unhealthy snacks, be they leftover birthday cake, fundraising cupcakes or the office biscuit supply. After snacking on these sugary treats, people will often feel sluggish and sleepy, struggling to remain productive.
Try providing some healthy snacks to encourage employees. Something as simple as a fruit bowl instead of a biscuit tin. Or, if you have vending machines, switch the sweets and crisps variety for ‘healthy vending machines’.
Drinking plenty of water every day is important to help maintain our health and wellbeing. Consider installing filtered water dispensers so that your employees can stay hydrated more easily.
2. Encourage exercise
81.5% of workers say that exercise helps them to stay focused at work, according to an article by Minute Hack.
If the nature of your work is largely sedentary, it’s all the more important that employees are getting regular exercise to help prevent diseases related to sitting still for long periods of time.
Even something as simple as encouraging regular screen breaks, getting up from the desk and walking around the office or performing some easy stretches, can make all the difference. Some workplaces do ‘desk yoga’ or hold ‘walking meetings’ to get people moving.
If you don’t have one already, providing it’s possible, consider installing a shower in your workplace. This can make it easier for employees to do some exercise during the day, such as cycling to work or going for a run at lunch.
Speaking of cycling, many workplaces now take part in the government’s Cycle to Work scheme, which can help employees get a bike which they can then cycle to work on, instead of driving or getting public transport.
3. Stop sitting around
Studies have linked too much sitting with diseases like type 2 diabetes and some cancers, as well as obesity and shortening of life.
Those who work at a desk for 7 hours day or more are at risk. Experts recommend breaking up long periods of sitting with short bursts of activity for one to two minutes each.
Setting a reminder to get up once every 30 minutes to an hour and stretch, or investing in standing desks for those that want them could help. Instead of sitting down at lunch, people could take walks or stand instead.
4. Mental wellbeing
Our physical health isn’t the only thing that can be adversely affected by an unhealthy work environment. Promoting good mental health in the workplace is equally as important. The rates of mental health issues are rapidly increasing. One of the biggest factors that can affect a person’s mental health is their work.
Toxic workplaces, companies who encourage working late and where staff are overworked can be disastrous for a person’s mental wellbeing.
Workplace culture has a huge role to play in helping to promote good mental wellbeing. Companies should not reward presenteeism, working late or those who neglect work-life balance. Instead, they should aim to set an example to employees, encouraging them to take holiday, leave on time and offering support where needed.
A flexible and supportive work environment can make a big difference to those struggling with mental health issues.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, 70 million workdays are lost each year in the UK due to mental health problems.
5. Educate to empower
Education is key when trying to turn your workplace into a healthier place to be. There are plenty of free resources online and from the government and NHS websites on how to eat healthier and live a more active lifestyle. Stick these resources around your office for people to read, run lunchtime sessions or even send round regular emails with tips and advice on healthy living. Every little helps.
While you can’t force staff to make healthier choices for themselves, taking steps to promote good health and wellbeing in the workplace can still have a huge impact, simply in the knowledge that their employer cares.
Taking care of your workforce certainly pays off both in the short and long term. With these simple steps, you can start making your workplace a healthier, happier place to be. If you have already adopted any of these strategies in your workplace, let us know how it went!
For more ways your business can help encourage healthy employees, check out this article from Public Health England.