Businesses will always have a range of challenges to deal with and goals to achieve, but one priority that should never be overlooked, regardless of how your organization is currently performing, is employee wellbeing. A healthy, happy workforce is essential if you want to be a productive, successful business.
Some staff wellbeing schemes - such as providing gym memberships or private healthcare - are a major cost consideration for employers, but there are many other ways to support the physical and mental health of your employees without spending too much.
1. Make a top-down commitment to workplace wellbeing
The first step to creating a healthy workplace and promoting employee wellbeing is simply having open conversations about the issue, to ensure everyone in the organization recognizes its importance.
This has to start with the directors and managers at the very top of the business. By setting a positive example for the rest of the workforce, senior leaders can enable real change in company methods and attitudes towards wellbeing.
In a survey by the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) for its Health and Wellbeing at Work 2018 report, respondents who agreed their leaders and line managers recognized the value of staff wellbeing were twice as likely to report that steps had been taken to reduce ‘presenteeism’.
“Good leadership and people management practices form the bedrock of healthy and resilient workplaces, so every employer needs to focus their attention on these areas if they want long-term, sustainable change.”- Rachel Suff, Senior Employment Relations Adviser at the CIPD
2. Promote walking or cycling to work
Employees who live close to the workplace should be encouraged to walk or cycle to work, not only to improve their own general health and fitness, but to help the environment and save money.
There are various ways to encourage this, including starting a ‘mile to work’ initiative that challenges people to walk or cycle a mile on their trips to and from work every day. Even people who drive or take public transport could end their journey slightly earlier and walk or cycle the rest of the way.
3. Look into flexible working
Flexible working is becoming more common, with an increasing number of organizations and employees recognizing the benefits it can offer.
From a mental wellbeing perspective, it can help people to feel more positive about their jobs thanks to a better work-life balance and more time to spend with their loved ones.
Simple flexible working schemes, such as allowing people to work from home on a certain number of days in the month, or less rigid start and finish times, could be introduced at little or no cost to your business.
4. Provide standing desks
Introducing standing desks in your workplace will come at a cost but for most businesses it can be a manageable and justifiable expense, especially if you have a relatively small workforce.
Research has shown that sitting down for too long can be extremely damaging to a person’s long-term health. Being able to stand up at regular intervals while continuing to work could go a long way to supporting and improving employee wellbeing.
5. Encourage stand-up and walk-around meetings
If you want employees to stay active at work, why not move away from the entrenched idea that meetings have to be conducted sitting down?
There will be times when sitting down is necessary, of course; for example, a gathering of several people who all need to be able to see a screen or presentation. But if your business has regular, informal meetings with teams of just three or four people, encourage the idea that these can be conducted standing up, or even while walking around the office.
As well as improving physical health, this activity can make people feel more alert and ready to contribute to discussions and brainstorms.
6. Promote health awareness days
A small but simple initiative you can introduce to promote wellbeing in the workforce is getting behind a health awareness day.
Here are some of the biggest events that could encourage people to take action to improve their health:
- World Cancer Day (February 4th)
- World Health Day (April 7th)
- World No Tobacco Day (May 31st)
- World Blood Donor Day (June 14th)
- World Heart Day (September 29th)
- World Mental Health Day (October 10th)
- World Diabetes Day (November 14th)
Making even a small effort to support these causes will showcase your company’s commitment to better wellbeing and encourage members of the workforce to pay more attention to their health.