A Healthy Workplace: Encouraging & Supporting Employee Wellness

So far, we have explored ways to look inward to your organization’s culture, and you have probably turned over a rock or two and found some areas that need work in order to foster a healthier environment for you and your employees. We have looked at our offices and discovered how that horrendous overhead LED lighting is not only hurting our eyesight, but also our productivity. And the gray walls could do with a light splash of yellow, blue, green, or even red! 

Now, what about our people? Health starts at home and with the individual. Is there anything else we can do to encourage our employees to live better, work better, and be better? While it’s true, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink, we cando our part to lead—and supply the water!

Physical Wellness

Start promoting and encouraging the physical component of wellness into your office culture. While offering the best healthcare benefits package that your company can manage is a very good first start, it is not the only thing you can do. Every little bit can help.

Get Moving

How can you help encourage your employees to get moving? First—educate! Bring in a local health and wellness expert to a Friday staff luncheon and discuss the importance of physical activity and the resulting problems associated with sitting for extended periods of time. Implement a “get moving” policy. Encourage your employees to stand up and move around for a few minutes throughout the day. Prop open the doors to the internal stairwells to encourage people to take the stairs instead of the elevator. Do you have company picnics and other social events? Incorporate some physical/sporting activity into it vs. the museum and open bar. And to really put your money where your mouth is—provide paid fitness memberships!  

Offer Healthy Food Choices

It is so easy to head to the vending machine and grab a candy bar or bag of chips at that 3 o’clock workday crash. If you have a kitchen or breakroom, think about ways to encourage staff to make healthier decisions when they choose their snacks or meals. Stock up on water or juice drinks instead of caffeinated sports drinks and sodas. Have fresh fruit available and competitively priced compared with sugary snacks. Or better yet: provide the water and healthy snacks free of charge and leave the vending machine for the candy bars, chips, and sodas.

Invest In Ergonomic Furniture

When employees are asked to describe their office space, “comfortable” may not be the first word that comes to mind. But a simple Google search for “smartphone pinky” or “sitting disease” shows why employers need to pay attention to the physical mechanics of how we work and the effect it may be having on overall employee health and productivity. You are buying office chairs, phones and desk accessories anyway, so why not do so with a mind toward your employees’ health and comfort? Choose a few ergonomic chair designs that work with your office décor and let your employees choose which works best for them.  Also, provide headsets and adjustable monitor trays. Done!

Mental Well-Being

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. Depression and anxiety are two of the most common mental disorders that affect our ability to work, and productively at that. A study led by WHO found that more than 300 million people around the world suffer from depression and another 260 million from anxiety—with many living with bothconditions—and that such disorders cost the global economy $1 trillion in lost productivity each year. 

You can help promote employee mental health by putting appropriate policies in place, such as health and safety policies; develop and enforce a strict policy against sexual and racial harassment; establish programs for career development like on-the-job training and sponsorship for further development to keep them motivated; and—as we talked about with the company’s overall culture—involve employees in more of the company’s decision-making processes so that they have a strong feeling of validation, control, and participation.

Employee mental health can make all the difference in the bottom line of the company. Take care of the mental health of your team and make your company prosper.

In summary, workplace wellness is possible and largely driven by you—the employer. I hope some of the ideas we have explored over these past weeks speak to you and encourage you to make some positive changes in your workplace. The health and happiness benefits can extend all the way from your corporate bank account to your employees’ living rooms.