(Guest article by Zyana Morris)
What all strong, successful leaders know is that creating an employee-friendly work environment is good business. It only takes time and attentiveness to discover what needs you can meet to ensure your employees are leading unstressed, healthier, happier, and more productive lives.
Some employers couldn’t care less if their employees feel appreciated, or even if they make a living wage – even going so far as to encourage them to go on government assistance to make ends meet (*cough* Walmart *cough*). However, for employers with a conscience, and heart, we need to remember that it is possible to make model profits and also care for our co-workers and employees – and you know what? Happier employees make for a happier world, and isn’t that the kind of world we all want to live in?
For the most part, what employees need from their employers are the same things they need outside the office – healthy food, exercise, and quality family time to balance the stress of their professional obligations. Here are five ways to invest in the health and well-being of your employees.
Facilitate on-site childcare
Let’s face it, a good portion of your workforce probably consists of parents, and if they’re not yet, then they probably will be in a few years if you can retain them that long. Make it easy on you parents and co-ordinate some on-site childcare. Not only will it take a huge worry off the minds of your employees, but it will cut out much of the missed time and work due to issues with child illnesses, injuries, and scheduling.
If you can’t afford to 100% cover it as part of your employee benefit plan, at least offer a subsidized plan to your employees to get the kids onsite get the parents less stressed about the whereabouts of their infants and toddlers. Nearly one third of Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to work for offer on-site childcare, and for good reasons: child care benefits the employers who sponsor it by improving employee morale, reducing turnover and absenteeism, and increasing productivity.
This will also give young parents a change to get back in the game sooner after having children, making it easier for them to generate income for their growing family and keep their skills relevant. The last thing any employer wants are employees whose skills are no longer current. Help them out by making sure they come back to work without huge gaps in employment due to long leaves of absence.
Provide healthy meal choices and snacks
Food is fuel and a well-fueled team performs more productively and efficiently. Discourage unhealthy snacking by stocking the break-room, lounge area, and cafeteria with healthy nutrient dense snacks, fresh fruit, and vegetables. This is one of many things that Google gets right – by nudging it’s workers towards healthier meal and snack choices they keep their employees well-hydrated and well-nourished.
It’s great to offer in-house exercise classes, but if you don’t have the space consider teaming up with a nearby gym and offer group discounts on memberships, Provide access to other programs and physical activities on a regular basis. More than teambuilding, to encourage exercise is an investment in your employee’s health and well-being, and helps them stay fit.
An unfit body actually translates into an unfit mind. Numerous studies have demonstrated that obesity and metabolic disorders are associated with poorer cognitive performance – which means that overweight people actually think and perform slower – which translates into lowered productivity, messy mix-ups, and costly mistakes. When you invest in your employee’s physical health you’re also ensuring less missed work time due illness, and lowered employer and employee-paid insurance costs.
Support regular vacations
In many corporate cultures employees feel overworked, stressed, and in need of time away from the office that they can’t seem to carve out for themselves. Consequently, they may get lazy and feel embittered, or may even daydream about leaving on a daily basis: a jaded daydreaming team does not make a productive office.
Encourage employees to use their vacation time up each year, and even offer incentives if they take much-needed time off. In the long run this will lead to reduced turnover of your engaged and dedicated staff, and better overall productivity and performance.
Many feel that they simply can’t afford to leave. Other’s either worry that they are easily replaced, or that things simply won’t get done while they’re away. In its annual Vacation Depravation Study, released in November, 2015, Expedia.com found that just like working out and training in intervals can help us build strength and stamina and perform better in sports, taking breaks from work can also make us better at our jobs.
John Morrey, Vice President and General Manager of Expedia.com explains, “A healthy work-life balance is critical, not only to give workers a chance to enjoy their lives outside of the office, but also to recharge, making