Irrespective of the size of a company, having a healthy workforce is critical to the productivity and financial wellbeing of a business.
Investing in a health and wellness workplace strategy is indispensable and worth its weight in gold. If you don’t think so, check out the statistics below.
According to a 2018 press release for the Integrated Benefits Institute, US companies lose $530 billion per year due to illness-related productivity loss, a figure over and above the reported $880 billion it spends on employee healthcare benefits.
And a similar press release by Mercer UK for the year of 2019, claims that the UK economy suffered from the revenue loss of approximately £92 billion because of both physical and mental health issues.
Even if employees show up for work, but not in the right state of mind or health (called presenteeism), the loss of productivity in dollars and cents, pounds and pence, will be fairly calamitous for the company’s financial ledger, and, for the barely solvent utterly catastrophic. Paying out for a carefully constructed wellness program is an affordable and insightful workplace tactic.
For the large corporation with a huge bankroll, offering a savvy, perk-filled wellness program, complete with an in-house gym, weight-management reward incentives, chef, masseuse, nap rooms, community bikes, fitness classes, mindfulness, onsite health professionals, and more, to win over their employees and keep them healthy and happy, is a manageable affair.
Now imagine fake-coughing into your hand while saying Google, Microsoft, or Asana, and you’ll know what corporations provide the perks. And that is not a negative thing – oh, if only all businesses had the vision and the ability to offer such a wellness package, they surely would.
But there are still many offerings that smaller companies and businesses can implement to provide a better work environment that promotes health and wellbeing.
1. Education and prevention
Offering educational workshops on topics, as for example, ‘How to stay healthy during the winter season’ and ‘What danger signs to look out for regarding mental health’, are a great way to engage your personnel on certain matters that might affect the entire team without singling anyone out.
Providing flu shots administered by an onsite nurse or offering a rebate is a great preventive measure to keep the employees illness-free over the flu and cold season. Also, as part of the wellness strategy, you might be able to offer health insurance packages, incentives, or subsidized rebates.
2. Office setup
Another preventative or remedy to offer your employees is an ergonomic assessment for each workstation. As a preventive measure to avoid over-use strains, the assessments could be implemented as part of the onboarding/orientation process to be completed within the first month of employment.
For all the health issues modern studies relate to sitting down all day, you might consider investing in standing desks or adjustable up/down desks as an affordable and beneficial means to thwart such ill effects as musculoskeletal injuries and compressed or pinched nerve damage.
Preventing the costs of loss of productivity or workers to injuries and expensive long-term rehabilitation is essential to a company’s survival.
Consider offering cycle chairs or swiss balls to replace normal office chairs, and having stand-up hot desks in team meeting rooms as alternatives to promote a sustainable health strategy.
Provision of healthy food and beverage options onsite, including vending machine choices, catering for business meetings, providing free fruit, or even subsidizing healthy food offerings onsite are ways that a company can promote a healthy lifestyle policy.
Also, try making sure that employees are stopping for meals and taking their breaks away from their desks, and installing, tall bar leans in the cafeteria space, instead of traditional lunch tables and chairs.
4. Physical exercise
You might have the resources to provide an in-house gym, a complimentary gym membership, or possibly a subsidized rebate as part of the employee remuneration package.
But, if not, promoting physical exercise throughout the workday is achievable with ideas such as stretching breaks, bike-to-work days, and monthly inter-team PE challenges.
Encouragement to work out or take a walk during lunch, offer flexi-time to allow for fitting in some exercise time during the day, and organize physical games and activities for your team will establish an enjoyable, active environment in the workplace.
5. Team building
Forming company sports teams is a great way of encouraging light-hearted, friendly competition. It fosters camaraderie and colleague friendships that will only serve to enhance the worth of your business, by promoting laughter and fun in the workplace.
A part of every team-building structure should be a robust anti-bullying policy that mandates inclusivity and acceptance within the team for all.
Without such criteria, teams form cliques that exclude by their very nature, and an unhealthy company culture develops.
6. Mental Health
Any illness that goes untreated in a company’s culture will fester and grow into a bigger monster, bullying, being one of the very worst.
Bullying tactics, such as the exclusion of some team members leads to a toxic environment, and left unchecked, it elevates the bullies to poison a team from the inside out. It is also a major cause of mental illness and unhappiness in the workplace.
A mental health plan might consist of education for the whole team, stress reduction tools, e.g., mindfulness, personal strategies, individual coaching and counseling sessions, and taking company-wide Pulse surveys to determine the cultural health overall.
7. Go smoke-free
This is a no-brainer. Make the workplace and all work events smoke-free. Offer a smoking cessation incentive program, rebate, or subsidy. Add to it an all addictions policy, including alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc., and reinforce your support with your mental health and education programs.
8. Sick Leave Allocation
Sometimes, the statutory legal allocation for sick leave is grossly inadequate for an individual in a given year, especially if that individual has mitigating circumstances, such as they have a child, or they have been run-down by stress and mental health. Maybe they have just had a run of bad luck in contracting an illness.
Whatever the employee’s situation, great health, and wellness plan will consider individual circumstances, and allow for extra days and support to get the employee back to good health and productivity without making them use their vacation days to supplement their sick leave.
Because what is a company wellness program for, but to look after the interests of the company and its most lucrative assets, its employees, and to prevent the loss of productivity and revenue due to ill health, absenteeism, and presenteeism? “Better living, everyone” (borrowed from Better Living NZ).