Encouraging employee wellbeing, and in return productivity, is likely to be a top priority for HR Leaders. Regardless of the size of your organisation, a business is only as good as the people in it. As a business looking to build your employer brand, it is crucial that you not only recruit the right candidates, but also nurture their potential and wellbeing throughout their career. With the average British employee spending over 34 hours each week at work, the long working hours can impact their physical, mental and emotional health. As a result, company productivity and employee engagement are impacted. In fact, research by the OECD and Gallup showed that only 8 percent of UK employees were engaged at work. This is why employee wellbeing should be at the top of the ‘to-do’ list for many companies and their HR departments.
The Need For An Employee Wellbeing Programme
There have been many links made between a person’s job and their health. For instance, being employed in a good environment has been shown to promote good mental health. Also, studies by the American Psychological Association and the Center for Anxiety and Behavior Change have shown that work stress can affect employee sleeping patterns, their immune system and also lead to weight management difficulties. Around 45 percent of UK workers spend between 6-9 hours daily being sedentary, according to Censuswide. A sedentary lifestyle and other similar daily habits can influence their BMI and can lead to mental health consequences, including anxiety and depression. With employee sick days costing £77 billion annually in lost productivity, implementing a work environment that promotes employee fitness will not only benefit the employee, but it is a great investment for the company.
1. Review Your Office Culture
The culture of a workplace can refer to its leadership, workplace practices and the business’ missions, values and ethics. All of these elements can affect an employee’s performance, which is indirectly linked to their fitness levels. Therefore, promoting a workplace culture that embraces fitness is, in short, encouraging optimal employee performance. A study by PerkBox Medical showed that less than 30 percent of people in the UK manage to meet the recommended 10,000 steps a day at work simply because they are not able to walk much on the job, even though 73 percent of them try to in order to reduce stress and maintain their mental health. To change the workplace culture, start with improving workplace education on the benefits of exercise, including walking. Alternatively, you can consider this when designing the workplace and workday, such as by opting for standing desks or employee break policies.
2. Develop an Employee Wellbeing and Fitness Initiative
Recently, companies such as Deloitte, Google and TotalWellness have introduced employee fitness programs that include paid fitness times in an employee’s workday. In the UK, digital social media platform Hootsuite has tackled the issue of employee fitness in the workplace by installing a company gym on its business premises. To boost fitness knowledge and participation, the company has also included exercise classes with trained professionals at set times that are aligned with company break hours, giving their employees the time to fit exercise into their workday.
Another way companies can embrace their responsibility is by providing company discounts to gyms, healthy eateries and exercise facilities close to the workplace. Finally, encourage walking to and from work or participation in sporting events in exchange for monthly employee competition, bonuses and rewards. Signing up your workplace for the cycle to work scheme can help employees save up to 40 percent on the cost of a bike. Promoting healthy lunch and snack options in the company break room and on-site cafeteria at reduced prices can encourage employees to embrace a healthy lifestyle.
3. Encourage Mental Health Conversations And Training
The cost of mental ill-health averages between £33 billion and £42 billion each year, and mental health issues affect 1 in every 6 British workers. Creating open door workplace policies can help employees feel more at ease to discuss any mental health struggles they may be experiencing. Also, consider including mental health seminars on your workplace’s training rota to equip your employees with self-help skills. Finally, review the need for a designated employee to be trained in handling mental health problems in the workplace or the inclusion of professional mental health support in employees’ benefits package.
Investing in your employees’ health and fitness is crucial for any organisation if you are to maximise the returns you get from your resources. With employees dedicating so much of themselves and their time to the success of the organisation, it follows naturally that employers should accept some of the responsibility that they play in their workforce’s well-being. They can start by doing so in the place that is at the centre of it all: the workplace.