Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin Group, once said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.” A healthy, happy employee is a company’s greatest asset. Employee health impacts various aspects of a business, including performance, absenteeism, productivity, and workplace culture. For this reason, employee health should be a top priority amongst US employers. While it may not be possible to ensure that any employee remains perfectly healthy, there are a number of things an employer can do to boost employee health and welfare considerably.
Inspire healthy eating
Unhealthy eating has been directly linked to a significant decrease in productivity, according to a study published in the Population Health Management journal. Additionally, a poor diet can increase the prevalence of illness and injury, which may result in an increase in the number of sick days an employee takes. Inspiring healthy eating can, therefore, be of great benefit to both the employee and the business. A healthy diet filled with vegetables, fruit, lean proteins and healthy fats will undoubtedly give the immune system a boost, leaving employees healthier and more productive. Employers can inspire healthy eating in a number of ways, such as by providing a fridge for staff members to put their healthy meals in, implementing a healthy catering policy, and having informative training sessions on the importance of a healthy diet.
Encourage physical activity
Engaging in regular exercise is as important as following a healthy diet when it comes to warding off illness and injury, as it has the potential to give the immune system a much-needed boost. Encouraging employees to get active will improve their personal health, which, in turn, will benefit the company, as their productivity will subsequently increase. There are a number of ways an employer can encourage physical activity in the workforce. Apart from encouraging employees to take the stairs and get active during their lunch break, standing desks can also be provided to limit the amount of time spent sitting in front of a desk. Additionally, team building events that require physical activity and sponsored yoga/gym memberships can also encourage even the most sedentary employees to become more active.
Facilitate good mental health
Mental health concerns affect nearly one in five adults in the USA, according to the CDC. In the workplace, poor mental health can impact productivity and job performance, communication with co-workers and clients, and daily functioning. Employers can help promote good mental health in the workplace by creating an organization-wide mental health plan and providing mental health training to key personnel. Bullying in the workplace is becoming increasingly prevalent, and should be addressed as a matter of urgency. Strategies should also be put in place to avoid bullying, as well as other types of unacceptable behavior. Certain industries are more conducive to stress than others. Having a professional give a talk about stress-reducing techniques can definitely benefit employees who work in a stressful environment.
Employee health should be a priority in any workplace. It will ultimately not only benefit every employee, but the business as a whole as well.