5 steps to better workplace health and wellbeing

Small steps in employee wellbeing can deliver big results in business wellbeing

A healthier, happier workplace is a successful one, according to Michael Hartland, who explains that small steps in employee wellbeing can deliver big results in business wellbeing

The implications of poor wellbeing in the workplace are serious, and illness-related absenteeism costs US businesses an estimated $250 billion every year. In certain sectors it’s even more critical. Absenteeism amongst healthcare workers compromises the effectiveness of patient care. International research has shown that for every 100 healthcare workers employed, seven will be absent at least once each week.

A healthy workplace improves employee satisfaction, lifts productivity and increases business performance. Here are five simple tips to breathe new life into your workplace health and wellbeing.

1. Mind over matter
Mental wellbeing is just as important as physical. Generally, if the mind is strong, the body will follow. A UK government study found that one in three work absences were due to anxiety and stress. Of these, a quarter involved staff absences of between one and three months off work.

Addressing this issue benefits everyone. For employers it’s about doing basic staff management right. Enforce the taking of proper breaks, so that employees have adequate time to recharge their mental batteries. Offer independent counselling services for employees to call upon in times of need.

Promote positive behaviours and affirm the organisation’s commitment to workplace health and wellbeing through custom corporate wallpapers which staff see throughout the day.

2. Food for thought
Everyone knows the old adage about life that you get out what you put in. It mostly refers to effort, but equally applies to food.

“Getting employees active gets them healthier and more productive. Employers have almost limitless ways to promote exercise in the workplace”

Eating well provides essential nourishment and energy. But in today’s busy workplaces, employees often resort to cheap and accessible snack treats – if they take time to eat at all. These poor eating habits contribute to an unhealthy lifestyle.

Fostering better workplace health can be as simple as having fresh fruit delivered weekly to your offices and making these available free to staff. Have water coolers prominently placed in all locations – there’s no excuse for sugary carbonated soft drinks when water is so readily available!

If dispelling those mid-morning munchies entirely is too unpalatable, other services deliver diverse, healthy snacks direct to your offices, and can ensure that while staff are fueling up they’re not fattening up.

3. Make yourself at home
Comfort is one of the biggest, yet most neglected, factors when it comes to workplace wellbeing. Discomfort affects employees emotionally through increased feelings of unease, plus physically through muscle and nerve strains.

Poor posture due to incorrect workstation placement can aggravate an employee’s conditions, resulting in greater risk of absenteeism.

It makes good sense for employers to invest in personalised workstation optimisation. This professional audit will advise on correct screen height to avoid eyestrain, optimum chair level, use of footrests or other cushioning, and so on.

Conversely, sometimes the best thing for a healthy workplace is not to be there at all. Encourage staff who are unwell to work from home, rather than struggle in and spread their germs.

4. Take a load off
The link between physical activity and workplace productivity is becoming increasingly accepted. Research has demonstrated that employees with higher rates of physical activity have less work absenteeism – in some cases, nearly 75 per cent less.

Getting employees active gets them healthier and more productive. Employers have almost limitless ways to promote exercise in the workplace.

“There’s no excuse for sugary carbonated soft drinks when water is so readily available”

Got a meeting scheduled tomorrow? Make it a walking meeting, ideally outdoors, and enjoy the fresh perspectives as you enjoy the fresh air. Exercise is always more fun with company, so get a group together for lunchtime walks or yoga sessions.

Your HR department can look at introducing workplace wellness programs, negotiate a discount for staff at nearby gyms, or offer an incentive to promote walking, cycling or running to work.

5. Right on target
Wellbeing is personal and can be different for everyone. Physically healthy people can still be dissatisfied with where they are in life. Some people can strive to attain levels of wellbeing that others already have but are unhappy with.

Health and wellbeing isn’t a fixed state. Yours will be different than mine, and both of ours will be different than Jane in Accounts.

Responsible employers seek to find out how their staff really are. How do they rate their health and wellbeing now? What would they realistically like it to be? What changes in the workplace could help them bridge this gap?

A staff survey is an unintrusive way to find out this information. It demonstrates genuine empathy on the part of employers, as well as unearths areas of potential workplace improvement which could benefit everyone.

Orion Advisor Services recently introduced a brilliant but simple idea to find out how staff felt about their day – plus take a timely temperature check on office morale.

A healthier, happier workplace is a successful one. For employers, small steps in employee wellbeing can deliver big results in business wellbeing.