The adult human body is 50-75% water, and the brain is around 85% water. This makes hydration important for how we think, feel and behave. Research has shown that a reduction in hydration levels of as little as 2% of our body weight can influence our mood, increasing fatigue and reducing alertness.
Therefore, in the workplace, employers should take measures to ensure their staff are taking on enough liquid to stay properly hydrated.
Maintaining and increasing productivity
If employees are sufficiently hydrated this can help them stay alert and focused on their work. The brain is mostly made up of water, and even a slight drop in hydration levels can affect our thought and memory processes.
Dehydration can make it more difficult to concentrate on complex tasks, more easily lead to fatigue and may cause headaches. One study of young women showed that dehydration (-1.36% loss of body mass) led to poor mood, reduced concentration, a tendency to find tasks harder and more frequent headaches.
On the other hand, a properly, regularly hydrated workforce is more likely to maintain or even increase its productivity.
Staff absences can put a strain on businesses and organizations, and have a negative effect on productivity.
Staying hydrated has various health benefits, including:
Good kidney function also helps to boost the immune system.
All these aspects can contribute to a healthier workforce, and reduce staff absences.
But what measures can employers take to keep their staff hydrated?
How to keep your staff hydrated
As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.
As an employer, you can’t enforce rules to keep your staff hydrated, but you can put certain things in place that make it easier for them to choose to drink more water.
- Provide a water cooler – a water cooler, or other sources of cool, filtered water, gives employees easy access to a water source to keep them hydrated, plus it has social benefits and encourages them not to stay seated at their workstations all day.
- Offer fruit as snacks – apples, oranges and peaches are over 80% water, making them ideal as a hidden source of hydration.
- Invest in air conditioning and improved ventilation – in the warmer months, workspaces can become very hot, whilst during the winter, sometimes heating systems can be too efficient, creating an overly hot or dry environment. These can both contribute to a drop in hydration.
- Create a culture of healthy living – healthy eating and regular exercise should be obvious as ways to live healthier lives, but you can reinforce them in the workplace by including them in your company culture. This can be both outward-facing, as part of your public image, and inwardly, in your brand values.
The lasting legacy of good hydration
Hydration is a health benefit for employees but also for the businesses that employ them, because it can contribute to a healthy, productive workplace culture.
When considering your duty of care to your employees, remember that supporting them in leading healthier lifestyles can also be extremely beneficial to your business, your productivity and your bottom line.
Encouraging them to drink more water is a simple but effective measure to help them - and the business - thrive.