Employee wellness is not something every employer thinks about. The day in, day out stress of operating a business can, unfortunately, cause some important things to fall by the wayside. More attention may be paid to employee productivity, as that’s more often than not seen as the be-all, end-all of any business. In reality, employee wellness and productivity go hand in hand. Simply put, an employee who is well performs well. Granted, it’s not entirely an employer’s responsibility to ensure its employees are healthy. However, there are some things an employer can do to encourage its employees to stay on a path to wellness.
Encourage Physical Activity
Unless someone works in a physical job, chances are they’re spending more time sitting at their desk or standing in their designated zone than anything else. Getting stuck in a sedentary routine can wear on employees and deteriorate their health, thus sapping their productivity in the process. To alleviate this discomfort, employers may consider offering gym memberships or, at least, encourage periodic physical breaks throughout each workday.
Consider the Office Furniture
It’s easy to see that the furniture employers choose for their offices impacts their employees’ physical activity. Having comfortable office chairs and cozy common spaces throughout the office might seem like a good idea; however, these cushy accommodations may create the tendency for employees to spend more time sitting and relaxing than working. And that’s not good for the bottom line or employee health. Instead, consider standing desks or alternative office chairs. Just keep in mind that not every employee will be able to use fixtures that encourage movement instead of being stationary.
Offer Healthy Eating Options
The hustle and bustle of a busy workday can leave some employees feeling like they don’t have adequate time to go out for a healthy lunch. And too often, that perception leaves some reaching for an unhealthy snack or, perhaps worse, simply going without nutrients all day. And, unless an employee has a healthy lifestyle, they’re more likely to fall victim to this temptation. But unhealthy eating causes employees considerable stress, which saps productivity. When an employer offers healthier choices, whether that’s snacks or full meals, they help eliminate these temptations employees might have to make poor eating choices.
Provide Educational Materials
A display of health-related, government-issued pamphlets might not be the most popular destination in the office. But employers should provide relevant information to empower employees to make informed decisions. And there are plenty of free resources online from the U.S. Department of Agriculture that make health-related information more easily “digestible,” and even fun. Simply put, employees should feel like their employer is in their corner supporting them. It’s all about creating a culture where employees want to improve their health and become more active. And providing resources to guide employees along their journey to wellness is a big part of establishing this solidarity.
Schedule Health Seminars
A pamphlet or infographic can only tell an employee so much about getting healthy. Holding regular health seminars to present information about wellness in a fun and engaging way can really make the subject matter come to life. Attendance at these seminars should be optional, but efforts need to be made to reward employees who do attend and encourage others to become a part of the process. Getting every employee involved isn’t only about supporting each other’s health, it is also a valuable team-building exercise. And that’s good for both the health of employees and the bottom line.
Teaching About Self-Care
The path toward wellness doesn’t begin and end with exercise and eating healthier. Employees need to have tools that allow them some escape from the daily grind. Many employees may feel pressure to do more and maintain a more-than-sustainable pace to climb the ever-growing corporate ladder. Working hard is one thing, but burning out is becoming a reality for many overworked employees. While exercising and eating well can destress, self-care is equally important. Unfortunately, many individuals simply don’t take the time to care for themselves amid the daily grind. Knowing when it’s time to step away and focus on individual needs is a powerful skill that some employees may need to be taught, or, at least, encouraged to practice.
Rewarding Employee Progress
Recognizing employee progress along their journey goes a long way in creating a culture of wellness in the workplace. Receiving recognition from one’s employer is a powerful feeling, especially when that recognition involves a journey that might not get as much attention. The path to wellness is one that can be littered with many obstacles, so any support that an employee can get will help them reach the finish line. Establishing a robust reward system will help your organization win with wellness.
Success for any organization shouldn’t be measured by the bottom line alone. An organization’s profit, of course, factors into how successful it is, but it is unlikely to maintain any level of success without continual investment in its employees. A loyal employee is going to do a lot more for an organization than one who has one foot out the door. Fostering that loyalty is easier said than done, but it’s clearly a worthy undertaking.