When it comes to creating a healthy work environment, the approach by employers should be a holistic one. Rather than simply finding a means to ward off colds and flu, the overall well-being of the employees should be taken into consideration by looking at their physical, spiritual, environmental, intellectual, emotional and occupational needs.
There is a rise in in healthy workplace committees helping to promote wellness in the workplace and for very good reasons. Unhealthy, stressed employees can cost a company greatly in terms of absenteeism and decreased productivity. Furthermore, there is evidence to suggest that an unhealthy work environment can lead to employees exhibiting unhealthy lifestyles which puts them at an increased risk for injuries, heart disease, substance abuse and mental health problems.
Studies have demonstrated the benefits of a healthy workforce. Employers who encourage and promote a healthy workplace will improve productivity, business performance, staff morale, employee engagement and working relations as well as retaining current employees and attracting new ones. There will also be a reduction in accidents and work-related ill health and absenteeism, a reduction in sick pay costs and insurance costs, and a decrease in stress.
There are obvious benefits to employers creating healthy work environments for their teams. These are a few of the ways that companies can implement health and wellness practices into their workplaces without compromising productivity or efficiency.
It has been demonstrated that one of the best ways to reduce stress is through 30 minutes of physical activity per day. Employees who lead a healthy lifestyle which includes exercise decrease their chances of getting sick and taking time off work which ultimately takes away from a company’s productivity.
By offering access to exercise (whether through an onsite facility or via a discounted membership at a local gym), employers are improving the health and well-being of those employees. In addition, companies can further create a healthy culture by encouraging the use of fitness trackers and encouraging healthy competition among the team for motivation
Designate a Quiet Space
From time-to-time everyone experiences a bad day. Employers can help ease some of the mental tension of their employees by designating an area where they are able to retreat too momentarily and take a mental break. The area should be a quiet, uncluttered space, free of any company materials. It should be an area with comfortable seating, light reading material and perhaps even soft music that will be calming and allow for silent reflection and solitude. When designating this quiet space employers should also establish parameters around its use to ensure its effectiveness (for example it should not be a lounge area filled with chatter).
Encourage Short Breaks
It is important to the mental and physical well-being of employees to take breaks throughout the day. The human body after all was not designed for tasks like sitting in front of a computer screen for eight hours a day. Taking breaks actually improves performance because it allows people to be more focused, less burned out, and more productive in the long term.
There are many employees, especially in small companies or growing start-ups that feel pressured into working constantly and not taking time for themselves. Much like short breaks are needed throughout the work day, so are longer stretches of time required for rejuvenation. Taking vacation contributes to good mental health and should be encouraged, even if it means implementing a use it or lose it vacation policy in the workplace.
There are many companies that offer workplace seminars or lunch and learns for their employees to educate them on topics that will contribute to overall health; topics such as nutrition, fitness, pain and injury resolution and stress management to name a few. Offering employee wellness seminars is yet another approach that employers can take in creating a healthy work environment.
Dr. Lederman offers an extensive and evolving selection of engaging employee wellness seminars focusing on a holistic and natural approach to healthy living and optimized wellness.