There are many ways to look after the health of your employees. But why is it important that employers do this? First of all, it’s important that absences are kept to a minimum. When people are off work because of illness or injury, it’s not good for anyone. The employee suffers, and the business is held back from doing as much as it could. Also, as an employer, you have a duty of care to employees. And you don’t want to do anything that could lead to a tribunal situation. So, here are some methods of protecting the health of your employees better.
Ensure Breaks and a Comfortable Workspaces
If you want your employees to be productive from the start of the day to the end, they need to be given breaks. Many business owners and managers don’t like giving people multiple breaks throughout the day. But it can be a very good thing. They will have the chance to get rid of stress and take some time away from the desk. This usually means that when they return, they will be refreshed and ready to take on the challenges that lie ahead. It’s good for them, and it’s good for the business too. So, what’s not to like?
Having a five-minute break at the desk is not good enough to help employees, so make sure that you create a space that they can retreat to. This enables them to get up and move about but also clears their heads. You will want to make a space in your office or workplace a work-free zone, so think about bringing in some comfortable seating like a sofa or beanbags. A table or worktop is a great furniture item to include as well, as it gives you the chance to provide a kettle, coffee machine, microwave, or food basket full of delicious treats and fruit. In addition, you should think about any activities that could provide a welcome distraction for employees on their breaks, such as a foosball table, video game console (perfect for those long lunch breaks), or even some board or card games.
If you want to ensure this space is completely relaxing, consider the color scheme carefully. Greens and blues will evoke calm feelings among your staff members. While white can be a great option for creating a room free of distraction, you want to get the balance right of not being too clinical.
Provide Healthy Eating Options in the Office
The way your employees eat when they’re at work will have a significant impact on their overall health. If the only food you provide for your employees is snacks from vending machines, then this is likely to be the food they consume. Of course, you can’t try to control how or what your employees eat. But you can try to steer them in the right direction. By offering healthy food options, you will also stop those sugar spikes and comedowns that are associated with unhealthy food.
You could provide a fruit bowl that you regularly top up each week. However, make sure to ask your employees what it is they like, as you may be throwing away money on food that your employees don’t actually like or eat.
Of course, it isn’t just healthy food that you can offer as a way of protecting your employees’ health. Many employees will stress about the quality of the work they are putting in and be concerned that they are not doing enough. Reassure them that they are all doing a fantastic job by taking them all out for lunch at the end of the month. By getting rewards in the food of a lunch out, your employees can stop stressing about whether they are doing a good job or not. Your actions sometimes speak louder than your words.
Mitigate Specific Health Threats
Every business is different. And all your businesses face particular threats. The same is true for your employees. If the everyday threats that they face in their daily schedule are not mitigated properly by you, they can get hurt. So, for example, if someone is working at heights and isn’t provided with all the correct safety equipment, they’ll be at greater risk. And if someone is working with wood carving or cutting, the workplace will need to be prepared in the right way. Things like nordfab ducting can suck up dust and stop employees inhaling it.
You will need to carry out audits in your workplace to ensure that these safety measures are in place all the time. If you aren’t up to industry standards and going above and beyond, you are putting the health of your employees at risk. So, make sure you have all the right equipment, tools, and procedures in place. This might require a bit of an investment, but when it comes to looking after your employees, this is money well worth spending.
Offer In-House Stress Support
Stress is one of the biggest health problems that employees face in the workplace today. When people are put under too much pressure to perform, they often don’t respond well. Mental health problems are often not treated as seriously as physical health problems. But that’s something that should change in your workplace. Fortunately, there are ways that you can help others get the support they need, and some can be very rewarding. You can protect your employees against this problem by making sure that everyone can handle their workload. Have a regular 1-2-1 meeting with each employee to find out how they are doing and whether anything can be done to lighten the workload. You might find that in the busier months that outsourcing some of the workloads helps massively.
And you can go even further by offering in-house stress support when there is a problem that needs addressing. If you do this, it shouldn’t become a problem for people.
In-house stress support can be organized in multiple ways. You could hire a full-time support worker that is able to be there throughout the day – often when employees need the most advice and support with their mental health. Alternatively, you could reach out to a local counseling support group and partner up with them to offer therapy or counseling sessions to your employees to use. By offering the counseling organization something in return, they may be able to offer this service for free. Using your key negotiation skills will be critical here. However, be warned that this may not work. You might find that some organizations are not interested in partnering up or that there are not enough close-by options for your employees.
Therefore, a third option, and one that you might find yourself inclined to do regardless of whether you opt for the first two options, is to offer the support yourself. By focusing on yourself, you may find that you are able to help others, and this can be extremely rewarding.
Taking a clinical mental health counseling course through an online university will provide you with a degree that will enable you to properly change the lives of your employees and those outside your business. Through a course like this, you will gain some key skills, like critical thinking, listening, and socialization, as well as the different approaches you need to take to counseling like group and individual therapy. If you feel like this is too much for you to take on, full time, then, fortunately, there are flexible options available to you.
If you don’t want to take this course yourself, hire in-house support and offer this extended training opportunity to them to enable them to offer only the best to your employees. With this, you are keeping your in-house support staff happy and progressive while also looking out for everyone in the company.
Provide the correct furniture
If your employees sit at a desk all day, there are various health problems that they can run into over time. For example, when starting at a computer for eight hours a day, eye strain and other eye health problems can be a possibility. Back pain from sitting in the wrong type of chair can also be a problem. You may even find that some employees develop health problems such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and experience strokes, all simply because they have been sitting down too much. If your employees are then also relying on quick-fix energy food options, gaining weight is a lot easier and puts them at even more risk.
Therefore, you should consider the furniture you should be supplying your staff, regardless of whether they work from home or the office. For instance, you can place a blue light filter over the monitors to reduce the glare of the screen, which can help with protecting their eyes. You could also replace all your chairs with economic chairs that will really benefit their posture. If you really want to push the boat out, then opt for desks that can be raised in height. This can allow employees to stand and work if they want to and avoid the need to be sitting all day long.
Encourage physical exercise
Physical exercise is one great way of ensuring you have a healthy body, so make sure you are encouraging your employees to take part in it as much as possible. Again, while you can’t force anybody to do anything, you can do your part by enabling them to have the option to take part in more physical exercise if they so choose. For instance, you could offer flexible working hours that will enable them to go to a fitness class at a certain time in the week or go for a run on their lunch break or before the start of the day.
Another way to encourage more physical exercise is to put a scheme in place. Cycle or walk-to-work schemes are a great way to encourage team spirit and get people moving. You could make it a competition to see who is the most committed to doing it every day.
If some of your team live too far away from the office, and this leaves some excluded from the scheme, consider the option of offering a gym membership as part of one of your benefits to working here instead. Even a discount would be appreciated by many and gives them a good reason to do more exercise.
Update your sick day policy
One reason that employees find themselves experiencing long-term health problems is that they will often come in when they are ill but should have stayed home. Due to a lack of sick days that a person has within a company (which can vary from place to place), people often force themselves into work as a way of avoiding having a sick day. Many are concerned about using them and then not having the days when they really need them. However, the more times a person does this, the worse impact it can leave on their health long term. Not only are employees less productive when they are sick, but you risk them passing it on to your other employees. The last thing you want is for the entire company to be experiencing a lack of productivity due to illness.
Therefore, it might be worth reassessing your sick day policy. For example, you could offer mental health days or unlimited days off sick. However, if you are concerned about the latter, there are other options available. For instance, you could offer employees five days sick in a row per illness event.
You need to show your employees that you are a business owner that cares about their well-being. If you have a passion for helping others, then this will shine through all on its own, but sometimes it can be beneficial to seek out further means. Make sure to take on board everything in this article when you are looking for ways of supporting your employees and ensuring their full health.