It’s official: a healthy workforce equates to healthy business. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), employees who benefit from workplace health promotion are more productive, have higher job satisfaction, and significantly reduced stress levels. In other words, good health is a win-win situation for all. But let’s face it, health can be a challenge in the workplace. Employees spend a minimum of eight hours a day at their desks, with ample opportunities for snacking on sugary carbs and naughty treats to fuel their working days. And although minds might be on overdrive during this time, bodies are usually completely stationary, putting them at risk of poor circulation, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes. It’s a worrying situation, you’ll agree. But there is hope. Health is a topic that’s currently high on the agendas of business owners, and that means that there are now more ways than ever to keep your workforce healthy. Here are 6 great ideas to get you started.
1. Use standing desks
Stand up work stations might seem slightly drastic, but they’ve been steadily gaining traction in recent years, and with good reason. As the name suggests, the idea behind the standing desk is to stand as you work, instead of parking yourself on a leg-numbing office chair for the day. In doing so, this can help to eliminate issues like back pain, poor posture, and tailbone problems that can plague stationery office workers throughout their working lives. According to a recent Forbes article, standing desks not only make you more alert, they’re also a more stimulating alternative to desks and cubicles, giving a more sociable, open feel to the office space. There may be another reason at play too, standing desks send a very overt message to visitors and clients that your business cares about health. They make staff look proactive and ready for action, and you have to admit, that’s a fairly compelling prospect.
2. Change how you do meetings
If your business is one that thrives on face to face meetings between staff members, this simple shift in the way you conduct them could give your staff, and the meetings themselves, more vitality. That shift is this: start to schedule walking meetings, instead of sitting meetings. Why should we do this? Business innovator Nilofer Merchant, who has given a TED talk on this very subject, says “sitting has become the smoking of our generation.” To combat this and avoid a health epidemic, we need to think of more ways to incorporate activity into our working lives. Merchant also raises an interesting bonus to these walking meetings, and that’s a boost in creative thinking, “there’s this amazing thing about actually getting out of the box that leads to out-of-the-box thinking,” she says, “whether it’s nature or the exercise itself, it certainly works.”
3. Make use of apps
There’s another way to keep employees active throughout the day, and that’s by using a simple desktop reminder service. Apps like DeskActive, once installed on a desktop computer, will remind your employees to stretch at regular intervals throughout the day. This can help to prevent repetitive strain injury, improve circulation, and ease stiff muscles. DeskActive uses human avatars who work through different stretches with you, demonstrating how to do them and reminding you at the right times. For the data geeks among us, you can also measure your progress by meeting weekly targets.
4. Make lunch times count
Stress is a leading cause of burnout in the workplace, which not only impacts how productive your employees are but also affects the immune system, leading to more sick days. The solution? Give your employees opportunities to de-stress. A great way to do this is to use the lunch hour for group activities such as yoga and meditation. Draft in an instructor who can teach classes and get the whole office involved in eliminating the toxic effects of stress. Dealing with difficult clients or tight deadlines will be a cinch once your staff are in a state of zen-like flow. Offer these classes several times a week and you’ll soon have a workforce that is happier, calmer, and finds it easier to concentrate throughout the day.
5. Get a delivery
According to the NHS, we consume a third of our daily calorie intake at work. If you can help your staff to take those calories from healthy foods, rather than sugar-laden treats, you’ll be contributing hugely to workplace health, not to mention lowering everyone’s risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. But how do you help employees to make healthier decisions without seeming overbearing? Here’s an idea: offer them a free, healthy way to snack. Order deliveries of fruit to the office on certain days so that everyone has access to a nutritious food source. Fruit is laden with important nutrients and will help stave off colds, improve concentration, and boost your staff’s energy levels. And it’s cost effective too, even small startups should be able to afford a fruit hamper or two a week without making a large dent in their budgets. For something more upscale, subsidise a Graze box: a box stuffed with superfoods that is delivered to each employee and tailored to their individual tastes.
6. Paws for thought
Having an office pet might seem like an impractical idea at first glance, but what if we told you it could boost staff morale, increase the number of hours worked by employees, and help lower blood pressure? Office pets can do all those things and more – just ask pet-friendly companies like Google, Amazon and Ben & Jerry’s. One study, by Central Michigan University, showed that groups that work alongside a pet display higher mutual trust, stronger team bonding and more intimacy than those who work without one. In health terms, there’s more good news, having a pet around can lead to less stressed employees, equating to a lower rate of illness. What’s not to love about that?
So there you have it, 6 simple ways to not only improve your employees health, but the health of your business as a whole. You may not want to adopt all six (let’s face it a standing desk office, with mounds of healthy snacks, and a dog might not be the most productive work place), but even adopting just one of these ideas could make a positive change to the way your business works. Want more advice on how to make your business the strongest that it can be? Check out our blog.