As the world faces a viral pandemic, the methods employers use to protect the health of their employees have come into sharp focus. This article contains standard workplace wellness advice, but in the current climate, it’s important to remember that prevention is key. If your employees can work from home, please let them do so immediately. If not, make sure there are plenty of sanitizing products on hand, space employees as far away from each other as possible, and avoid gathering people together in small spaces. Together, we can flatten the curve and lessen the spread of COVID-19.
Workplace wellness programs have become increasingly popular in recent years, and there are some good arguments as to why. They can reduce your company’s healthcare costs, promote a lower-stress environment, and show your employees you value their overall mental and physical health. That can lead to more productive, happier employees that take your business to levels of higher success.
Additionally, this generation is looking for employers who prioritize health and wellness. Millennials value things like connection, relationships, and achieving goals. They’re also workplace warriors who are spending more time in the office than ever. So, it makes sense that millennial job seekers are more likely to seek out companies who know that employee health matters.
Successful workplace wellness programs require employee engagement, a specific budget, convenience, and leadership. It’s equally important that your company’s approach to wellness is specific to your demographic.
If you work primarily with Gen Z and millennials you can focus more on those age groups with intro sessions to healthcare coverage, engaging in workshops about hot button topics like sexual health and consent, as well as more traditional aspects like flu clinics, a balanced diet, and the importance of getting enough sleep. If your demographic skews predominantly older you might consider including a greater focus on heart health and chronic condition management.
By creating an environment that promotes mental health, fitness, and overall care for your employees, you can reap the benefits of a more productive workplace with fewer employees calling out sick.
Encouraging Preventative Health Measures
Don’t wait until your employees get sick to take action and go to bat for their health and wellness. Preventative health is an important part of any wellness program.
When your employees join in on the program, you can connect them with a healthcare professional like a nurse practitioner. They can create their own health and fitness goals, and a healthcare worker can give them a designated plan to reach those goals.
Nurse practitioners provide general education and can help your employees with everything from nutritional habits to fitness routines, and even health screenings. It will give your employees a good place to start. They’ll have a better understanding of where their overall health stands, and where they want it to go. Goals will help to keep everyone motivated, and you can even encourage some healthy competition among your employees to help people reach their goals faster.
Treating Technology Overload
If you work in a space that requires you and your employees to stare at computer screens all day, it’s a good idea to offer occasional breaks from technology. Screen filters and blue light blockers are a great way to protect your eyes. Too much blue light (from screens) can contribute to fatigue and can cause people to have trouble sleeping at night.
Employees who wear glasses can get blue light blockers “installed” easily, and you can put screen filters on your computers to help those who don’t wear glasses.
In addition to protecting the eyesight of your employees, encourage them to take breaks. You can offer employee lounge areas with physical games like ping pong or foosball to get people’s blood flowing and their minds working in different ways. Or, have a courtyard or walking area outside your building for employees to get fresh air. If outdoor areas aren’t an option in your space, but indoor space is available, consider creating an area where employees can practice light yoga and stretching.
Even stepping away from technology for a few minutes can make a big difference when it comes to productivity, creativity, and fighting fatigue. So, your employees will rely less on that afternoon cup of coffee, and more on the boost of natural energy that comes from being active for a few minutes at a time.
Making Mental Health a Priority
A recent report from the American Institute of Stress found that 20% of workers were most stressed by having to juggle a work-life balance, and 46% were most stressed by the workload they carried on a regular basis.
Stress is a big problem in the workplace, and it can cause things like low energy, headaches, digestive issues, aches and pains, and frequent illnesses. Mentally, excessive stress can lead to mood swings, and it can even cause anxiety and depression.
Obviously, none of those symptoms are what you want for your employees. So, making mental health a priority in your workplace can help to reduce stress and keep your workers happy and healthy. Having a “mental health day” policy in your handbook is a great place to start. If an employee needs a day off to recharge, they shouldn’t be penalized for that.
Additionally, you can find ways to help employees reduce stress at work. Offer meditation areas or give your employees journals to write down their thoughts. You can also provide herbal teas in your break room designed to reduce stress or natural juices for people to grab over sugar-filled alternatives.
Your health and wellness program should be a reflection of what your employees really want. If you’re not sure where to get started, you can send around a survey, or talk to your employees to learn more about their wellness priorities and goals. To some, health and wellness might be more about physical fitness, so offering gym memberships or exercise programs could be a priority. To others, mental health will be most important, so offering more stress-reduction techniques and flexible work schedules could be the best option for you.
Whatever your program ends up looking like, putting one in place can be encouraging to your employees. Showing that you care enough to create such a program will attract new hires and boost employee retention. Plus, what business owner doesn’t want to have a company full of healthy employees who love what they do?