Promoting employee health is a challenge that many employers face. With the rise of chronic disease, low physical activity levels, and sleep deprivation, it’s no wonder that employees are struggling with their health. So, what can employers do to encourage better health for their employees?
Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution, some workplace strategies can promote employee health. Here are a few examples:
Offer wellness programs as benefits.
Offering wellness programs is a great way to encourage employees to focus on their health. These programs can educate nutrition, physical activity, and stress management. They can also allow employees to participate in activities that promote health, such as weight-loss challenges and fitness classes.
You can also provide all-access memberships to local gyms or online fitness classes as part of your wellness program. This way, employees can work out independently and at their own pace. Doing so is essential to avoid burnout and promote long-term healthy habits.
However, be careful not to make wellness a competition. Wellness programs should be voluntary and inclusive, not mandatory or exclusionary. Be mindful of how you promote these programs and communicate with employees about their participation. Too much pressure can lead to negative associations with wellness and discourage employees from participating.
Encourage breaks during the workday.
Sitting for long periods can have adverse effects on health, so it’s essential to encourage employees to take breaks throughout the day. It could be as simple as allowing them to take a walk during their lunch break or providing standing desks or treadmill desks.
If your workplace has enough space, you could also offer on-site fitness classes or massage during the workday. These services can help employees reduce stress and feel more energized.
Employees who can take breaks during the workday are more productive and have less absenteeism due to illness. So, it’s a win-win for both employees and employers.
Provide healthy food options.
The food that employees eat plays a significant role in their overall health. If your workplace has a cafeteria or vending machines, try to offer healthy food options. It could be fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein.
It’s also important to offer water and low- or no-calorie beverage options. Employees who drink plenty of water are less likely to experience fatigue and other health problems.
If your workplace doesn’t have a cafeteria or vending machines, you can still promote healthy eating by providing discounts at local restaurants that offer healthy meals. You could also host potlucks and cook-offs with healthy recipes. While these activities may take more effort to organize, they can be a fun and effective way to promote healthy eating.
Support employees with chronic conditions.
Your employees may already have chronic conditions, such as diabetes, hypertension, or mental illness. It’s essential to support these people and help them manage their condition.
You can do so by providing resources, such as information on healthy lifestyle choices and disease management. You could also offer health benefits that cover their current conditions. For example, you could provide health insurance that covers medication costs.
If you have employees with chronic conditions, it’s also important to be understanding and accommodating. For instance, you could allow them to work from home if their condition makes it difficult to come into the office. It can show your employees that you care about their well-being and are willing to make accommodations to support them.
Require annual health screenings.
Annual health screenings can help employees identify potential health problems early on. These screenings can detect conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol, and cancer.
Screenings can also help employees understand their risks for specific conditions. For example, a doctor can advise someone with a family history of heart disease to make lifestyle changes to reduce their risk.
Some health screenings also include drug testing. It can help employers identify employees who may have substance abuse problems. If an employee tests positive for drugs, the employer can provide resources for treatment and recovery. They can also help the employees find drug rehab clinics or other support groups. Instead of discriminating against these employees, employers can show that they’re committed to helping them overcome their addiction.
Employers who want to have a healthy workforce should take the necessary steps to encourage their employees to lead healthier lives. In simple ways, such as offering wellness programs, encouraging break times, providing healthy food options, supporting employees with chronic conditions, and requiring annual health screenings, employers can make a big difference in the health of their employees. By promoting healthy habits, employers can create a culture of wellness that will benefit both their employees and their business.