The average person spends a third of their life at work. And if we spend that much time at the office, it should be a space where we are physically and mentally safe. 

Unfortunately, many companies are not providing this to their staff, and this has a significant impact on output and productivity. 

What causes health and wellness problems in the workplace?

In many workplaces, employees are overworked, highly stressed, and their contribution is not properly valued, recognized, and compensated. 

In fact, research suggests that as many as 40% of Americans are highly stressed at work and a staggering 80% feel some level of work stress. Almost half (46%) of all workplace stress is caused by workload.

Unsafe workspaces are a significant cause of unhappiness and ill health at the office. These workplaces lack policies or rules to protect employees from hazards, abuse, or harassment that cause mental and physical ill-health.

Ailments such as depression, heart disease, hypertension, and musculoskeletal conditions, can arise from working where employers do not prioritize the health and safety of their team.

What is the cost of workplace stress?

According to research, workplace stress costs employers a whopping $10B annually. It is also estimated that  60-80% of workplace accidents are related to workplace stress

These costs are caused by absenteeism, physical and mental health conditions, workplace accidents, and high turnover rates.

How to promote your employees’ workplace health and wellness

You may be one of the employers dealing with a less engaged workforce, decreased productivity, many incidents of psychological difficulties, accidents, and physical health problems among your workers. 

And naturally, you are wondering how to solve them.

The best course of action is to invest time and energy in promoting health and wellness programs that will eventually develop into a wellness culture for your organization.

Here are seven activities you can start right away to promote workplace health and wellness.

Seven ways to promote workplace health and wellness

1. Give employees access to fitness facilities

Exercise is a great way to boost your mental health and physical wellbeing. 

The endorphins released when we exercise make us feel better physically and improve our mental clarity, which in turn helps us deliver better results at the office.

Putting up a gym, running track, and other exercise facilities that your employees can use during their free time will make it easier to fit exercise into their daily routine.

If putting up exercise facilities at the office is not an option, paying for a gym membership in nearby fitness facilities is a good option. 

You can also hire yoga, meditation, and aerobics instructors to train your employees in weekly exercise sessions. 

2. Offer preventative health programs

Most of your employees’ health issues are preventable or treatable if caught early. For example, most cancers such as breast and bowel cancer can be nipped in the bud when detected early. 

A preventative health program will reduce your health insurance costs, increase productivity, improve performance, reduce absenteeism, and help you to retain talent. 

Some health initiatives you can invest in include;

  • Providing access to affordable health insurance coverage and discounted medication for chronic ailments such as Diabetes. Do not forget to include their immediate family members as well.
  • Creating regular workplace events for employees where health screening exercises are done, such as cancer screening programs
  • Giving employees dealing with mental challenges such as depression and anxiety access to counselors 
  • Encouraging employees to get vaccines and any shots necessary to prevent illnesses such as flu shots and Covid vaccines
  • Organizing health education classes or seminars that encourage good nutritional habits
  • Partnerships or discounts to ensure access to healthy organic food.

3. Have recognition and reward programs 

Unappreciated employees are likely to suffer ill health. We all need recognition and rewards for a job well done.

Some effective ways to reward and recognize employees are;

  • Giving employees verbal recognition such as a simple “congratulations for your good work!” in front of other company employees 
  • Rewarding employees with bonuses for excellent performance  
  • Honoring employees with performance awards such as “Employee of the year awards.”
  • Encouraging peer to peer recognition where excellent employees are recognized by their fellow workers for good performance
  • Celebrating milestones such as work anniversaries where you appreciate long-serving employees for their commitment to the company

4. Giving your employees enough time to rest

The easiest way to burn out your employees is by overworking them. And as we mentioned above, almost 50% of workplace stress is caused by an excessive workload.

Your employees enjoy many rights as a worker and among the most important is time off.

Make it mandatory for your staff to take their annual leave, and any off days due to them. 

Additionally, encourage a culture where employees are only at the office during work hours and leave at the designated time.

5. Create a healthy work environment

The overall look, location, and design of a workplace can affect your employees’ mental and physical health.

Exposure to excess noise, hazardous chemicals, and unsafe outdated equipment, leads to accidents and occupational diseases. 

Create an environment that exposes your employees to nature, enough light and air to boost their emotional and physical wellbeing.

Choose interior décor that promotes calm using the right colors, and equipment that supports their physical health, such as ergonomic furniture. 

And where heavy machinery or hazardous chemicals are used, provide your employees with safety equipment and training on how to work safely.

6. Adopt workplace habits that improve employee health

The practices you encourage in your company create your workplace culture and determine the results you get from staff. 

Several habits can improve employee health and wellness in your organization. These are;

  • Using flexible work schedules to ensure your employees maintain a healthy work-life balance.
  • Giving employees regular breaks during workdays to prevent issues such as digital eye strain and backaches that occur after long hours of working.
  • Adapting regular safety inspections and training on how to use work equipment to lower workplace injuries

7. Support employees to reduce their health costs

Unfortunately, no matter how much you advocate for workplace health and wellness, some of your employees will still succumb to illnesses. 

The best way to support employees with acute and pre-existing  chronic conditions to stay healthy and productive is to find ways to make their access to healthcare affordable. 

This will cut down the chances of your employees being absent from work due to sickness or exacerbation of illness due to lack of access to quality healthcare.

Last word

These are 7 practical activities for promoting workplace health and wellness that you can implement in your organization. As an employer, when you care about your employees’ physical and mental health, you can expect an increase in engagement and productivity, better retention of talent, lower health insurance costs, less absenteeism, and consequently, an improved bottom line.

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