Here in the UK, employers lose an estimated £73 billion per year due to productivity losses associated with employee illnesses. At a time of unprecedented global competition, that's a significant impediment to long-term success. The good news is that there are plenty of things that businesses can do to mitigate some of those losses, and they all add up to building a health-focused culture for employees that will help them maintain their physical and mental health.
Creating a health-focused workplace culture will pay dividends that go beyond cost savings, as well. That's because healthy employees will be more focused and efficient at their jobs. Even employees who aren't chronically ill will show productivity improvements, making healthy workplace initiatives one of the most beneficial types of on-the-job benefit programmes for employees and employers alike. Here are four key pillars of such a programme to help interested businesses get started.
Focus on fitness
There aren't many people who aren't aware that their physical fitness level plays a key role in their overall well being. Most, however, see this truth in general terms and don't necessarily link it to better health outcomes. The truth is, however, that studies have shown that regular exercise can decrease the incidence of colds and other illnesses by as much as half. To encourage employees to get and stay physically fit, businesses should provide subsidies for gym memberships to interested employees. In addition, it's an excellent idea to offer fitness trackers to employees and create a rewards system for those who stay the most active.
Aim for stress reduction
Another key component of any workplace wellness programme is a mechanism for tackling workplace stress as a cause of poor employee health. According to the UK's Health and Safety Executive, workplace stress is now responsible for more than half of the working days lost to illness in the country, so dealing with it should be a major focus of any wellness programme. That means training managers in how to spot the signs of workplace stress, as well as implementing strategies to eliminate it. One excellent strategy is to offer stress management
courses either in-office or through a suitable e-learning provider and to create an open-door policy at the management level that makes it clear to employees that they have a route to address issues at work that are at the roots of their stress.
Provide wellness education
One of the major reasons that employees become unhealthy is that they simply don't possess the lifestyle skills to avoid it. To remedy that, it's necessary to provide wellness education as a part of an overall workplace wellness programme. For example, dietary management courses can teach employees about the benefits of little-known supplements like benfotiamine, which can help them maintain healthy body weight and correct blood sugar levels, which play a key role in their overall health. It's also worthwhile to offer courses on topics like time management, work/life balance, and meditation, to give employees the tools to eliminate unhealthy habits and build lifestyles that facilitate good health.
Appoint a manager
Since it is impossible to build a workplace wellness programme that will be all things to all employees, it is important to enshrine the responsibility for the ongoing evolution of the scheme to a single manager. As employee wellness is a field that has taken on such significance in recent years, it is now possible to hire such a manager from a deep and talented pool of specifically-trained health and wellness coordinators. These professionals have been trained in the latest in wellness practices and theory, and know how to work with diverse workforces to identify areas of employee health that need improvement. Their presence is well worth the investment in salary and benefits, as they help to drive efficiency and minimise the absenteeism that plagues most businesses.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, any business that chooses to put the health and wellbeing of its employees front and centre will help their employees to be more engaged, happy, and more productive. It's a low-cost way to maximise the output of existing staff while also helping them to raise their own quality of life. It is one of the rare win-win situations where labour and business can come together and agree on shared priorities. With so much to gain, workplace wellness programmes are a business imperative that no company can afford to do without.
About Philip P.
My primary focus is a fusion of technology, small business, and marketing. I’m an editor, writer, marketing consultant and guest author at several authority websites. In love with startups, traveling and helping others get their ideas off the ground.