How to Have Healthier Workers
Workplace wellness initiatives can save your company money. For as many as 74 percent of American companies, lowering health care costs is a primary motivator for workplace wellness programs. But that’s not the only way wellness initiatives help your bottom line. Healthy workers have more energy, take fewer days off of work, and are more productive. Workers who feel that their company makes their health a priority are more likely to stay in their jobs, and they have better morale.
You may not have the resources or the staff to implement a full-fledge workplace wellness program. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t support your workers in becoming healthier, happier, and more productive. Small gestures, like making it easier for your employees to exercise, offering them flu vaccines, and educating them about healthy eating and stress management, can go a long way toward preventing serious illness among members of your work force.
1. Teach Your Employees About Healthy Habits
Many of your employees would be happy to practice stress management and eat healthier meals, but they don’t know how. One way to teach your employees about nutrition, stress management, and exercise is to offer them regular, brief seminars on healthy eating habits and other pertinent topics, like how to manage and reduce stress, how to stay healthy when you’re travelling, and how to cook delicious, healthy meals. Offer some kind of incentive to encourage attendance — for example, employees who attend a certain number of seminars may earn an extra day off, or a further discount on company health insurance plans.
Most adults with full-time jobs and family responsibilities struggle to find time to exercise regularly. If you don’t have the space for a full-service gym at your company, there’s still plenty you can do to save money on employee benefits by encouraging your workers to be more active.
You can offer secure bike parking for your employees who wish to cycle to work. You can start a lunchtime walking club, or bring in a fitness teacher to teach lunchtime aerobics or yoga classes, and offer employees participation incentives. You could even offer discounts on local gym memberships for employees and their spouses — choose a facility that’s close to your office so employees will have time to work out before coming in to the office or after leaving for the day.
3. Subsidize Flu Shots
Flu vaccines are one of the easiest ways to keep employees from calling out sick for days or even weeks in a row. They’re also a good way to protect employees’ families, since young children, elderly people, pregnant women, and people with certain health conditions are more likely to develop serious — even life-threatening — complications if infected with the flu. It’s easy enough to bring in some pharmacists and have every member of staff vaccinated against the flu — or at least, you can offer to reimburse employees for flu shots they obtain on their own time, if your company’s health insurance policy doesn’t already do so.
4. Offer Healthy Snack Options
Most employees will want a drink or snack once in a while, and if you want your workers to be healthy, then it’s up to you to make sure their snack and drink options are healthy, too. Pull the potato chips and candy bars — or at least some of them — out of the snack machine and replace them with nuts and other healthy snacks. Offer your employees a basket of fresh fruit in the break room. Fill the drink machine with sparkling water and fruit juices instead of soda. If your company has a cafeteria for workers, make sure there are plenty of nutritious and healthy options on the menu.
5. Support Stress Management
Many Americans these days don’t feel they’re managing their stress well — in the 2013 Stress in America survey, 35 percent of American adults said they felt more stressed than they had the year prior, and 53 percent said their health care providers offered them little or no advice on how to cope with stress. Many of the most stressed-out workers are Millennials, those aged 18 to 34.
By helping your employees manage stress, you can help protect them from high blood pressure, heart disease, and insomnia. You can also protect your company from the damaging effects of employee stress, which include absenteeism, reduced productivity and efficiency, and low morale. Offer regular seminars on stress reduction. Consider implementing some sort of employee assistance program so that workers who are struggling with problems — be they financial, family, or mental health related — can get help to cope with stress. Encourage stressed-out employees to take regular breaks, especially if they can take a few minutes to go outdoors.
A workplace wellness program can help your employees be healthier, happier, and more productive, and can improve your company’s bottom line in multiple ways. You don’t need to be able to provide your employees with a full-service gym or a dedicated workplace wellness staff in order to promote your employees’ health. All you have to do is give your employees the tools to live a healthier lifestyle, and they’ll do the rest.