According to the World Health Organization (WHO), paying attention to workers’ health can have many benefits. Promoting health at work can help encourage employees to be more productive, reduce stress, increase self-esteem and even boost job satisfaction. It’s also thought that investing in workplace health promotion can save companies money in lowering absenteeism. It’s a win-win for everyone involved. Healthier people = better business!
So, if you are looking for simple steps you can take to help encourage a healthy workplace and help employees thrive, be sure to read on.
1. Healthy eating and drinking
A good place to begin is with nutrition. Office spaces are notorious for the temptation of unhealthy snacks, be it some leftover birthday cake, fundraising cupcakes or the office biscuit supply. After snacking on these sugary treats, workers can often feel sluggish and sleepy, struggling to remain productive.
Why not try providing healthier snacks to encourage employees to eat healthier and remain productive. Something as simple as a fruit bowl instead of a biscuit tin. Or, if you have vending machines, make sure there is a varied amount of snacks with just as many healthy choices as there are sweets and crisps.
Fruits that are particularly beneficial for employee health include:
- Apples - a great choice for colon health and keeping blood sugar levels controlled. Also a great source of Vitamin C.
- Cherries - have a high concentration of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block the enzymes associated with inflammation.
- Grapes - loaded with Vitamins A, C and B6, as well as folate and several essential minerals.
- Blackberries - rich in the antioxidant Lutein, which helps promote eye health.
Drinking plenty of water every day is also important to maintain health and wellbeing. Dehydration causes ill effects, such as drowsiness and sluggishness. Consider installing a mains fed water cooler, so that your employees can stay hydrated easily.
2. Encourage exercise
Did you know that 81.5% of workers say that exercise helps them stay focused at work?
If the nature of your work is mainly sedentary, it’s all the more important that employees are getting regular exercise to help prevent diseases related to sitting still for long periods.
Even if it’s 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 up and moving.
If you don’t have one already - providing it’s possible - consider installing a shower in the workplace. This can make it easier for employees to do some exercise during the day, such as cycling to work or going to the gym at lunch.
3. Maintain good posture
Maintaining good posture all day requires conscious effort. Most employees who use computers will stare at their screens for hours on end and slowly get drawn into it. This means they stretch their neck forwards, putting pressure on the neck and the spine. This can all be avoided with a range of away-from-desk exercises, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and taking time to stretch regularly.
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 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 a holiday, leave on time and offer support where needed.
A flexible and supportive working environment can make a huge difference to those struggling with mental health issues.
5. Put on some music
Listening to music triggers the release of the feel-good chemical, Dopamine, which helps put us in a better mood.
Music can be both a great motivator and a concentration aid for employees - particularly if you work in a busy, open-plan environment. Though, before you boot up Spotify, consider employee preferences - will they all enjoy the same music? If not, allow employees to plug in a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, or ask for suggestions from around the office.
6. Go pet-friendly
Creating a pet-friendly space where well-behaved dogs are welcome can be a great way to reduce employee stress and give employees something to chat about and bond over. Studies have shown that the presence of friendly animals can reduce heart rate and blood pressure. Going pet-friendly is also a great way to promote exercise as workers will be more likely to vacate the break room and take a walking lunch in the fresh air to move around and leave their office chairs behind.
Having such a fun workplace perk also has the added benefit of helping to attract top talent!
Taking good care of your workforce certainly pays off both in the short term and long term. With these few simple steps, you can start making your workplace a healthier, happier place to be.