By far, the most important asset of any company is its workforce.
However, it’s alarming how companies are hardly doing much to support employee health and wellness.
The Institution of Occupational Safety and Health reports that in an online survey of non-permanent workers:
– 64% are working without sick pay.
– 43% don’t have holiday pay.
– 25% aren’t paid for overtime.
Additionally, in a report by CareerBuilder, three in five workers experience burnout in their jobs, with over 30% of them reporting extremely high workplace stress. With almost 80% of those surveyed saying that their company doesn’t provide programs to manage stress, the toll on their health is huge – many of those surveyed report constant tiredness, sleepless nights, body pains, and increased anxiety as a result.
For any company that truly cares about its employees’ well-being, workplace health and wellness should be a top priority for managers. Increased employee productivity and morale, reduced long-term healthcare costs, and more opportunities to attract and retain talent are just some of the benefits that employers can gain from focusing on this.
Here, we’re going to present three impactful ways that you can implement to support employee health and wellness.
Introduce Healthier Food Options
As a matter of convenience, employees often resort to cheap meals at the nearby convenience store or the fast-food joint next door. While this may provide the energy boost they need to function in the short-term, years of unhealthy eating habits in the workplace can lead to an increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
Making healthier options accessible to your employees on-site not only improves workplace productivity, but it also reduces the risks of employees developing illnesses, lowering company medical expenses over the long-term.
Of course, it all starts with the little things. Instead of bringing cake and doughnuts to your next company celebration, consider some of the options on this list. Another possibility that companies are also considering is to start serving healthy breakfast options at work to provide employees with high-quality nutrition and energy to last throughout the day.
As your company grows, a good investment would be to explore partnering with office snack delivery companies, like SnackNation or Aramark, as a way of making healthy food options more accessible in your workplace.
Implement Mental Health and Stress Management Programs
Proper stress management in the workplace is a must. Without it, employees’ mental health starts to take a toll, possibly leading to mental disorders over time. Aside from absenteeism and lost productivity, these can also translate to physical illnesses and other serious health issues.
It literally pays to invest in programs supporting mental health. Research by the World Health Organization presents an interesting statistic: For every 1 USD spent on treating mental disorders, companies receive a 4 USD return in better health and productivity.
The key is in cultivating a positive work culture that is especially attentive to employees’ well-being. Although this requires sustained and concerted efforts, the long-term benefits of a large-scale emotional support system are extraordinary to employee happiness and engagement.
Removing the stigma around mental illnesses is imperative, which is achieved through crash courses on mental health, stress management workshops, awareness campaigns, and more. Canada Life’s Workplace Strategies for Mental Health provides free and easy-to-use resources to help you get started on introducing this in your company.
An important thing to note is that you are not equipped to give mental health advice. The best you can do is to give employees access to highly trained mental health professionals through local providers of employee assistance programs (EAPs). If you’re based in the US, this directory is a good start.
Conduct Regular Health Screenings
While it’s standard procedure to get health screenings upon entering the company, it’s less common to get regular screenings once already inside the company. This is especially important to older employees, who may be more prone to sickness. Productivity takes a toll as employees develop illnesses.
Instead of taking a reactive stance and paying for employee disease management, focus on preventive healthcare and early-stage detection of sicknesses. By identifying the warning signs of illnesses, employees can then make the necessary changes to their lifestyle before it gets worse. While preventative care might not necessarily reduce medical expenses compared to diagnostic care, improved quality of life over the long-term for your employees creates great wonders for both them and the value they provide to the company.
Healthier food options, mental health management programs, and regular health screenings are some of the approaches that your company can implement to create a sustainable impact in supporting employee health and wellness. To reap the fruits of these labours, however, will require continued efforts from both management and employees. But once the framework is set up, the benefits of a healthier workplace abound, and you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner.