The month of May, deemed Global Employee Health and Fitness Month (GEHFM), is a time to observe how the benefits of health and a healthy workplace make a difference in employers' and employees' lives. Employees in good health, both physically and mentally, are more likely to give their all to their organization. When employees have health-related issues, and nothing is done to help them, it affects their lives and costs businesses money. An estimated $530 billion a year, in fact.
The good news is that improving employee health is not an impossible feat. It's quite possible! Show your employees you care about their health and wellbeing with these tips you can implement in your workplace.
Give employees autonomy
Research done by McKinsey Quarterly shows that the higher someone's rank is in a company, the lower the instances of health issues such as stress and cardiovascular disease.
Why? The higher the rank, the lower the stress and chances for illness.
Even though these high-ranked employees faced many demands in their job, they enjoyed more control over their tasks, how they did them, and when.
This kind of autonomy needs to apply to all your employees. Instead of looking over their shoulders and being a helicopter, give your employees control over their tasks. You can still provide priorities and task deadlines but let them choose what tasks to work on during their day—and how they do them.
Encourage physical activity
A sedentary lifestyle at home and work can lead to health-related issues such as back pain, which 8 out of 10 people experience at some point in their life. Encourage your employees to get up and move during the day—taking a walk, stretching at their desks, and doing yoga are all good options. If your office is onsite, provide workstations with ergonomic chairs and standing desks. If your employees work remotely, consider giving them a stipend that they can use to make their at-home workstation ergonomic.
Help avoid digital eyestrain
Thirteen hours. That is how much time the average person spends daily in front of a digital screen (computer, phone, television), including both personal and work screen time, according to the Screen Time Report. In the same report, 71% of employers estimate their employees spend three or more hours staring at a screen—and 10% estimate their employees spend ten or more hours staring at a screen.
Your employees are locked in to some kind of screen during most of their day, so encourage them to give their eyes a rest by following the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, take a break and stare at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Give a shoulder to cry on
Having social support—family and friends you can count on—directly affects health. The same is true for workplace support. Having a competitive culture that pits people against one another weakens social support. Also, having a transactional culture, where people feel like they're just a number instead of a valued employee, further weakens that support.
Let your employees know that you and their fellow employees have their back and make your company culture one of support and empathy. This lets them know they can trust one another and leads to happier employees.
Don't make people choose
Life is a trade-off between work and family commitments. Parents have school and sports commitments for their children; people have aging relatives they might need to take to doctor's appointments. But for many people, these are stress-inducing events because they feel forced to choose between one or the other—work or family.
Make sure your employees know that family and other personal commitments are a part of life. Give them flexible schedules so they don't miss out on important moments or appointments—because when people feel happy and fulfilled at home, it will reflect in their work.
Encourage employees to actually end the day
Multiple studies show that the number of hours worked does not necessarily equate to productivity. Once the workday is done, encourage your employees to clock out and enjoy their evenings and weekends with their friends and family. If your employees work remotely, encourage them to do the same and to log off their computers when the workday is done.
Invest in your employees' health
When you show that you care about the health and wellbeing of your employees, they will notice. Give them access to health insurance, health and wellness programs, annual health screenings, and health education with practical, straightforward advice that your employees can put into practice. By providing these, you give employees the chance to take charge of their health.
Try "office recess"
Remember recess as a kid? It was a time to play, recharge, and have fun. Office recess is the same concept, where you encourage employees to "take a recess"—to pause and do something for themselves. This gives employees a mid-day energy boost and gets them started on the path to relaxation.
Be healthy, be happy
Employee health is a good investment. When you take the time to make sure they are healthy and happy—both physically and mentally—they will remember it and give their all for you. Use this month to spend time considering how you can make positive, forward-thinking changes to your company that promotes the health and wellbeing of your employees. Even small changes can make a difference. As you work to make these improvements, empowering employees to make healthy decisions for themselves, your culture, productivity, and internal relationships will improve—along with employee health.
Content provided by Q4iNetwork and partners
Photo by eakrinr