By: Maurine Anderson
A healthy work environment can do much to improve company morale and keep employees happy while at work. And while you may not have control over whether or not your employees exercise, there is a lot that you can do as an employer to create a work environment that promotes health and wellness. Here are some tips from creating a healthier work environment at your workplace.
Encourage breaks from sitting.
Sitting for prolonged periods of time—as many do in the workplace—can have significant negative effects on your physical health. It has been linked to high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, muscle loss, weight gain, back and neck pain, and even loss of brain power. In addition, as this article points out, lack of movement is the number one cause of varicose veins, which can cause major pain in the legs. So, be sure to encourage breaks from sitting in the workplace. You might, for example:
- establish additional sitting areas and meeting areas;
- create a relaxation space;
- establish a stretching or “active” break;
- map walking routes inside or outside the workplace; or
- hold walking meetings.
Invest in ergonomic chairs and desks.
Even when employees do get much-needed breaks from sitting, the fact is that many of them will probably have to spend hours in their day sitting in a chair at a desk. If this is the case for your employees, then it’s essential to invest in ergonomic chairs and desks in order to mitigate the negative impact of sitting.
There are many ways to promote personal fitness in employees, even outside of work hours. You might, for example, host a fitness challenge at work and invite employees to participate; offer reimbursements for gym memberships; count steps with other employees; or offer a small financial bonus to employees who, say, reach three out of the four quarterly fitness goals set at the workplace. Yes, this can be an investment of both time and money, but keep in mind that the healthier your employees are, the fewer sick days they’ll take, and they better they’ll perform while at work.
Maximize natural lighting.
Proper lighting can go a long way in eliminating glare and shadows, reducing eye fatigue, and preventing headaches. When possible, maximize natural lighting when designing your workplace. And when natural lighting is available, opt for a quality lighting setup that will mimic the feel of natural lighting.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance.
Promoting a healthy work-life balance is key to keeping your employees happy, which in turn will boost job performance. You as an employer can encourage a healthy work-life balance by giving employees a reasonable workload, refraining from sending emails outside of work hours, allowing for flexibility when employees need to make personal appointments during the workday, etc. Keep in mind here that you may inadvertently promote overworking by, say, treating employees who work overtime as better than others.
Keep the workplace clean.
A clean and orderly workplace can make a major positive impact on both the physical and mental health of your employees. Cleanliness helps eliminate dust and bacteria, and it kills germs that might otherwise spread quickly through the workplace. Fresh plants, meanwhile, can work to clean the air and contribute to a pleasant work environment. And finally, cleanliness and a well-designed workplace can help reduce stress and together create a peaceful ambiance for employees to enjoy working in. Hiring outside help for your cleaning needs and establishing some standard policies on office cleanliness can really be well worth the expense and effort.
Recognize hard work and achievements.
Employees don’t need to be bribed with prizes or incentives in order to improve job performance. Recognition for hard work and special achievements goes a long way, and often all an employee needs is a personal thank you or recognition in front of other employees in order to feel appreciated. Make sure that your employees are recognized for their hard work, and you’ll have a much healthier, much happier workplace.
Environment sustainability might not be directly related to physical health, but promoting it in the workplace will unite your employees under a wholesome cause and strengthen a healthy company culture. Consider promoting sustainability in your workplace by stocking your break room with washable dishes and utensils, placing recycling bins for various materials around the office, or hiring out local recycling services, as this article details.