For any business to become successful, it’s essential to have competent employees who are also a great fit for your company’s culture. Beyond this, however, so many factors can contribute to employee productivity. Without a doubt, these factors include the health and wellness of your employees.
You cannot reasonably expect employees who are unhealthy to perform optimally to the best of their ability. However, unfortunately, many aspects of the workplace have become a constant source of stress for employees. For instance, in many industries, working super late hours has become the minimum requirement. A trend that often has significant physical and psychological costs to the health and wellness of employees.
Thankfully, there are ways proactive business owners and managers can considerably avert such consequences. A primary approach is to tailor working conditions such that employee health does not become a casualty. Similarly, businesses could adopt other strategies to incentivize and promote healthy lifestyle habits for employees.
Business owners and managers must understand that promoting employee health and wellness is, in many ways, a worthwhile investment. In fact, recent research has shown that changing workplace conditions to improve workers’ well-being improves their health and also benefits the business through outcomes such as improved job performance, better productivity, and lower levels of employee burnout.
In this article, we will discuss some of the effective strategies businesses can adopt to put in place working conditions that improve employees’ health and wellness.
Give your employees more autonomy
Allowing your employees to make independent decisions regarding how they do their work and where could be an effective way to improve their mental wellness. People can manage work stress better when they have more control over their work. In fact, current research shows that having little discretion over how their work is done results in not just poor mental health for employees but also higher rates of heart disease.
To further illustrate how vital work autonomy is for employee health and wellness, other studies indicate that high work demands combined with low job autonomy can significantly increase the risks of diabetes and fatal cardiovascular conditions.
As such, managers must look into ways they can give employees more control over their jobs. Where done effectively, the gains can be considerable. For instance, one study found that giving employees of a customer service call center more autonomy to take on new tasks and resolve customer complaints on their own led to an improvement in their well-being and job performance.
Notably, employee autonomy also extends to the choices of when and where work is done. It means employers should be more open to flexible work schedules and modes of work. It may result in significant mental health improvement and increased productivity. For instance, an extensive work design at a Fortune 500 company allowed IT employees to control when and where they wanted to work, resulting in better mental and physical health for employees and lower turnover.
Prevent burdensome workloads
It is essential for employers to adequately staff their businesses to ensure that the workload on each employee is not extreme. Excessive workloads that might require long hours of working hard and fast may result in a poor work-life balance, and ultimately reduced performance. Furthermore, such working conditions could have detrimental effects on the physical health of employees. In essence, excessive work demands make for poorer employee health and wellness.
Studies have shown that such high work demands create health risks, particularly in the form of higher rates of high blood pressure, depression, and cardiovascular disease. To avoid this situation, employers must ensure there is adequate staff to effectively handle work demands without overburdening any individual.
Of course, a concern with this approach for business owners is the increased payroll cost. But employers should be aware that while hiring more employees may be costly, there is also a cost to a high employee turnover rate which is typically the case when employees have poor health and wellness.
Furthermore, employers can manage the cost of hiring more employees by adopting a strategic approach. For instance, it might not always be necessary to hire additional employees of equal competencies. In certain situations, hiring assistants may suffice to effectively relieve the workload.
Ensure managers are proactive about employee wellness
Managers have a critical role in determining employees’ working conditions. As such, they must be supportive of employees in ensuring their health and wellness in the workplace. It could be in the form of understanding the various personal needs of employers as well as the provision of support where necessary.
For instance, one study found that employees in nursing homes had reduced risks of cardiovascular disease and slept better when their managers were more accommodating of their family needs. Similarly, other studies suggest that employees’ work-life balance and overall health may be positively affected when managers are enrolled in programs to improve family-supportive behaviors.
Such supportive disposition of managers toward employees’ personal needs doesn’t just improve employee health but also positively impacts the business. For instance, employees whose managers underwent training to improve family-supportive behaviors reported higher job satisfaction and better job performance.
Improve the feeling of social belonging in the workplace
Employees might benefit greatly from having supportive social relationships with their colleagues. As such, businesses can take measures to foster such a sense of social belonging as an essential strategy to improve employee health and wellness. Current research indicates that such relationships at work are associated with lower psychological distress for employees. In essence, better social relationships among your employees could help reduce the risk of poor mental health.
The challenge would be how to effectively implement measures that lead to an improved sense of belonging. This could be as simple as creating spaces in the workplace where employees can interact more and spur a feeling of camaraderie. Furthermore, employers can encourage workers to support one another in various ways.
For instance, according to one study, 911 dispatchers had their supervisors send an email each week prompting dispatchers to support one another by sharing affirming stories. Given that dispatchers have stressful jobs and high rates of burnout, this measure was a way to ensure wellness in the workplace. And it worked, as dispatchers who received these emails were 50% less likely to quit and reported a significant decrease in burnout.
Another strategy is to adopt online recognition and reward programs that allow colleagues to recognize the efforts of one another on various projects. It would further promote a “shout-out” culture in which employees appreciate one another and form healthy social relationships.
Consider providing health insurance benefits
In addition to the fact that health insurance benefits are an essential consideration for workers when choosing an employer, these benefits are also a good way of ensuring your employees’ health and wellness. Although larger employers are practically required to offer these benefits under the Affordable Care Act, small business owners should also consider offering these benefits.
Health insurance benefits can help your business attract top talent. However, beyond that, these benefits enable your employees to take the best care of their health. For instance, employer insurance, being a group insurance plan, typically provides access to more doctors and hospitals than what would be possible on an individual plan. It means employees are more likely to have access to whatever medical expertise they require to maintain top health.
Furthermore, having access to medical services through insurance as opposed to expensive out-of-pocket treatment makes for healthier employees. It, in many ways, benefits the business. For one, healthy employees would take fewer sick days and tend to be more productive.
Have a conducive office environment
Employees spend a major part of their day in the office. It’s not difficult to imagine the extent to which the office atmosphere impacts their health and wellness. It is, therefore, crucial that employers consider the physical and mental health of employees when deciding the layout of the office.
For instance, having a working environment that reduces sitting time is a good strategy to mitigate health problems that can stem from sitting for long hours. It can be achieved by providing desks that can convert to standing desks. This way, employees can alternate between working while sitting and standing.
Similarly, the office structure could be designed to encourage physical activity. It could be in the form of integrating staircases. In addition, the parking lot could be situated farther away from the main building. This way, employees have to work moderate distances daily.
There are numerous reasons for employers to prioritize the health and wellness of employees. The health of employees is tied, in many ways, to their productivity and job satisfaction. As such, employers must explore various strategies discussed in this article to ensure their staff’s mental and physical health is taken care of.
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About the Author
Patty Torres is a young entrepreneur and a personal finance guru who likes to live large on a budget. As a result, she has developed an interest in finance, savings, budgeting, etc… Patty has built her career around creating high-quality, reader-focused digital brands and as a freelance writer, she enjoys sharing articles to help others manage debt.