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Jun 2016

Workplace Wellness: Ideas to encourage healthy working and living.


Workplace Wellness

The term ‘occupational safety’ brings thoughts of policy, paperwork, operational protocols, insurance claims, and job training. However, there is another side to ‘occupational safety’ that is just as important; health and wellness. Work environments that mold and encourage healthy employees will benefit in a variety of areas. If you are looking to improve the general well-being of your employees, as well as the safety environment of your workplace, consider ways you can promote health and wellness.

What are the impacts of healthy employees?

Employers who are seeking to improve the wellness of their employees are setting up their workplace for a number of benefits. Obviously, the physical health of every employee matters, and being physically healthy allows for the opportunities to live life happily and with energy. Still, there are a number of subsequent impacts that healthy employees will have on their work environment:

  1. Employees who eat healthy and exercise regularly are more likely to be at work, and will work harder. In fact, there is a 27% decrease in absenteeism in employees who make health a priority, and employees are 25% more likely to have a higher job performance.
  2. Having healthy employees will save you money. Employers spend 73 billion dollars every year on overweight employees. Additionally, overweight employers file twice as many workers’ compensation claims than their healthier peers.  According to a Willis Survey, healthcare costs are driven up by unhealthy employees. In fact, 61% of employers say that employee wellness is the number one challenge when trying to control healthcare costs. 
  3. Having healthier employees will improve the general mood of the workplace. A healthy diet can have direct impacts on mental health.  Employees who eat a healthy diet are less likely to develop mental health conditions, such as depression.

How can wellness be promoted?

Employers may find it challenging to undertake the endeavor of inciting healthy lifestyle changes in the lives of their employees.  However, employers can have a large impact on the health choices made by their employees. The key is to get creative. Find little changes that can be made within the work environment, and over time these small changes will have a significant impact on employee wellness.

  1. Diet is the key to healthy living. A workplace that encourages and promotes healthy eating will see improvements in employee wellness. Employers can do a number of things to provide and encourage healthy choices. For example, employers can stock vending machines with fruits, nuts, and granola bars, while staying away from candy bars and soda. Grabbing a pop or a candy bar is an easy thing to do when faced with a long work day. Help your employees make the healthy choice by providing healthy options.
  2. Promote fitness throughout the workplace. Some gyms offer company membership rates. Check out some of the fitness centers in your area and consider providing this opportunity for your employees. Holding fitness challenges or starting workout groups with co-workers is a great way to build camaraderie, and establish a system of accountability. Starting a lunch break walking club, or a men’s basketball league are great ways to encourage fitness and build relationships with co-workers. Fitness will help reduce the number work-related injuries, such as back and neck injuries.
  3. Group vaccinations can promote employee wellness. Annual flu shots and other immunizations are key to preventing sicknesses from making the rounds in the workplace. In addition, promote hand washing and keep public spaces disinfected.
  4. Mental health is one of the most important aspects of employee wellness. Employers need to be involved, and aware of the mental health of their employees. Obviously, privacy is important. Still, making sure employees have adequate time off, and have a healthy balance between work and daily life will go a long way in bettering their mental health.

Creating a work environment that values employee wellness will go a long way in improving the workplace as a whole; including the safety aspect. Employees who are healthier will cost the company less money, be involved in fewer accidents, miss fewer days, be more productive, and be happier. These are all critical aspects to a safe and positive work environment. Assess your workplace, and find any small changes you can make to promote employee wellness. It can only bring about positive changes.

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