Most workspaces present some kind of challenge for an employee’s health. Whether that be too many unhealthy temptations, a job that’s physically demanding, a job that isn’t physical enough, or even one that challenges a person’s mental health, each working environment can do more to prioritize employee health. Not only do healthy employees work better, it’s also beneficial to workplace culture for employees to feel as though their employer cares about their well-being and not just the bottom line.
In order for HR to promote a healthy work environment, there are a few things they can do. By taking steps that prioritize employee health, employees can go from experiencing wellness challenges to watching their health thrive in the office.
Be a Source of Health Information
There is a wealth of health information available out there, but it can be difficult to sift through studies, warnings, and updates if you’re not familiar with health news. For this reason, it can be helpful to be a source of health information for employees. You can do this by releasing a health newsletter each month, which can include things like medication news that may impact their health, food and drug recalls, or new CDC research. You might also recruit experts to speak or offer a health fair to allow employees to research wellness options in their area. Include various types of insurance, holistic health services, and mental health physicians as well. This way, you can be a reliable source of health information for your employees.
Understand Employee Health Gaps
Not every work environment will require the same things to promote health for employees. The key is in identifying employee health gaps and working to provide ways to remedy them. For instance, if your employees sit for a large portion of their work day, promoting a healthy work environment will involve encouraging walking breaks or purchasing standing desks. If your employees have a physically demanding job, promoting a healthy work environment will involve offering rest breaks and comfortable areas for relaxation.
Both health gaps are damaging to employees’ overall health and wellbeing. In addition to the type of work done, it’s also important to offer support for each employee’s specific health condition by providing what they need to be productive, safe, and fulfilled in the workplace.
Provide Healthy Alternatives
An office environment can be problematic to a person’s health because of all of the unhealthy temptations that can occur. Morning donuts, pizza luncheons, complimentary soda, etc., can all derail a person’s health goals. This doesn’t mean cutting out the bagels and complimentary lunches altogether, it just means you can promote a healthy work environment by offering healthy alternatives as well.
For instance, some may prefer the health benefits of tea over coffee, so offering both can help employees to stick with their preferred beverage. The same is true for fruit and granola in addition to donuts and bagels, a salad bar in addition to pizza, or low-calorie and no-sugar drinks in addition to soda.
Promote Exercise and Wellness
Exercise and wellness are staples of health, and promoting them at work can do a lot to create a healthy work environment. Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and promote physical and mental health, so providing a benefit like a gym facility or a paid gym membership can go a long way for employee wellness. You might also organize an exercise outing for those who wish to participate, such as a group hike or an employee team for a local 5k.
This way of promoting a healthy work environment is great for workplace culture, which is great for company reputation as well. You can promote wellness in the office by offering on-site flu shots, organizing a health clinic, providing wearable medical tech, or designating a quiet area for meditation and relaxation to relieve stress.
Prioritize Mental Health and Safety
Providing a healthy work environment isn’t just about offering healthy snacks and a gym membership, it’s also fostering a work culture that isn’t detrimental to their mental health and an environment dedicated to keeping them safe. Work on promoting a healthy work-life balance by offering PTO, flexible schedules, adequate pay, and the freedom to take time if they are burnt out. Be open about any mental health information employees may need, and make sure any insurance plans include mental health services.
You might also offer sexual harassment training to ensure all employees understand consent, boundaries, and appropriate behavior in and out of the office. Work hard to make employees feel safe, and establish trust so they feel protected enough to report any incidents if they should occur.
A healthy work environment should make an employee feel happy, healthy, fulfilled, and safe. It’s impossible to cater to every employee perfectly, but you can reach many of them by providing them with a few resources to help promote a healthier lifestyle. Not only is this better for employee morale and workplace culture, it also works to build better employees who enjoy their jobs and feel more productive. Employees will be happier and healthier overall when you show them that you are invested in and care about their health.