As a manager, you’re invested in your employees - in their training and growth, in their achievement and their sense of belonging, and in their overall feeling of well-being in the workplace. Creating and promoting a culture of health and wellness among your employees can go a long way toward improving your work environment by:● lowering health care costs
● fostering happiness and productivity.
Many companies are looking for ways to reduce healthcare costs. Research has shown that there is a strong connection between elevated healthcare costs and unhealthy lifestyle choices. There is also ample research showing that as we change our behaviors for the better we reduce health risks and our likelihood of developing chronic disease, thus keeping us out of an expensive healthcare system.
When your employees are unhealthy, in pain, or highly stressed, they are much more likely to call in sick or leave early. With this increase in absenteeism, productivity declines and quality drops. As their manager, you want your employees present, alert, invested in their work, and ready to return day after day to put forth their best effort and reach their greatest potential.
And as their manager, you hold the ability to create a healthier workplace and develop an overall culture of health and wellness. Employees look to you. You can create an environment that empowers your workers to manage their own wellbeing. Here are just a few of many ways that you can create such a culture.
1. Keep It Simple
People are much more likely to participate in any kind of health and wellness program when it’s easy and convenient to do so. Keep it simple and stress-free. Rather than pressuring employees to make changes or participate in wellness initiatives, set a tone of acceptance and celebrate well-being. This will encourage your workers to take personal ownership and participate in ways that make sense for each individual.
2. Offer Healthier Options
Healthy eating can go a long way toward preventing diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, whereas unhealthy eating can greatly increase your chances of developing a chronic illness. Prioritize healthy foods and make them accessible to your employees. Make a monthly trip to a wholesale club to stock up on healthy treats such as fresh fruit, nuts, and granola bars. Institute a free fruit bowl where employees can grab and add fruit for all to share. Replace sugary, fatty vending machine snacks with healthy alternatives - think Greek yogurt, almonds, and whole grain crackers. And host a healthy potluck every so often - ask members of your team to prepare a nutritious dish at home and then eat together.
3. Make Wellness Convenient
Rather than piling more onto your busy full-time employees, give them the opportunity to get healthy at work by offering employees the ability to get in some exercise throughout the workday. If your company has a gym, allow team members to exercise for 30 minutes of paid time. Create and fund an employee sports team. Have a fitness coach or yoga instructor come in to run a session in the workplace. Challenge employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator. Subsidize the entrance fee into fun runs and charity events.
4. Improve Your Workplace Environment
Workers who spend most of their day standing on a hard, concrete floor can experience a host of health struggles. Joint pain, back pain, foot pain, and muscle weakness contribute to a decline in productivity and an increase in absenteeism and workers comp claims. Keep your employees feeling their best by installing anti-fatigue mats throughout your facility. These mats are scientifically designed to reduce impact to the parts of the body that are negatively affected by prolonged standing, softening the pressure on joints and muscles and improving circulation. In addition, there are mats available to prevent slips, trips, and falls in the workplace. Not sure which anti-fatigue mat would be right for your facility? Request a free site survey. Protect your employees and boost their morale and productivity at the same time - it’s a win/win.
5. Prioritize Mental Health
Health goes beyond what your employees eat, how often they exercise, and how their work environment affects their bodies. Offer your team members encouragement to go beyond healthy eating and exercise to improve their mental health. Remove stigma and keep an open dialogue by placing a bulletin board posted with information on mental health resources in the break room.
Encourage employees to reduce stress by taking breaks throughout the day, which will also lead to an increase in stamina and focus. Have a professional come in to offer instruction in meditation, mindfulness, or other stress reduction techniques. Offer rebates for employees to see a counselor if needed. Communicate your care for your team members’ holistic health - physical, emotional, and mental.
6. Set the Tone
Employees take their cues from you, and you can’t expect them to participate in wellness initiatives if their manager isn’t. Be the leader in this area as in all others and illustrate the behaviors you want to see. This doesn’t mean you have to become a world-class athlete or the perfect picture of health - rather, display and share your personal well-being practices with authenticity and participate in wellness initiatives in the workplace.
As a manager, you are uniquely positioned to help your team members make positive, sustainable changes. Your employees are your company’s greatest asset. Invest in them and in creating a culture of health and wellness, and watch their health improve and their productivity increase.