8 Practical Tips to Promote a Healthy Work Environment

Whether you’re HR, a business owner, or a front-line manager, you’ve seen how poor employee health can impact productivity, morale, and the bottom line.

Just looking at mental health, this costs businesses an estimated $17-44 billion in lost productivity each year. Poor physical health in the workplace costs around $225 billion.

But denying sick days or firing people when they have a health problem is not the answer. Not only might you have an FMLA discrimination lawsuit on your hands. It’s unethical and may influence customer perceptions pelvic floor muscle & physio lower back pain.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be a victim of employee illness. You can promote wellness in the workplace to reduce these occurrences and take a bite out of these productivity loss numbers. Here are 8 practical strategies you can use to promote health in the workplace and for minimal cost.

1. Influence What’s Normal

Yes, we stole this one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). But they ought to know about health.

When employees see other people being healthy at work without “forcing” healthiness on others, they often naturally improve their own behavior.

For example, if all of your co-workers seem to be eating healthy lunches, you might feel a little uncomfortable bringing in a cheeseburger and fries.

Some other healthy social norms that you can subtly reinforce include:

  • Walking meetings
  • Sit-stand
  • Cubicle workouts
  • Healthy food served at meetings
  • Healthy options in the vending area
  • Public transportation

Some of these other tips will help further your commitment to healthy workplace culture.

2. Provide Health & Nutrition Classes On-Site

Don’t make these mandatory. But schedule a quarterly health-focused seminar, cooking class, nutrition class, etc. Place it at a time that you can maximize attendance and promote it to generate interest.

You could even give attendees an hour of vacation time for attending. But if this is a limited-time promotion, make sure that it’s clear up-front to avoid backlash when the promotion ends.

3. Offer Fitness Program Discounts

Partner with a gym that has several locations in your area. Or, given that fewer people are interested in traditional gyms nowadays, some employers are re-reimbursing employees for eligible fitness-related expenses.

But get that policy in writing. Be clear about what you reimburse and what the upper limit is to avoid exploitation.

4. Health Promotion Committee

Many employees would love to be a part of a health committee. Their role is never to push health on others but to develop and execute a plan to promote health.

Work with HR on this one. Give the group a little budget to work with, and make sure their time on the committee is paid time. If they have clear direction and healthy ambition, this is time and money well spent.

5. Allow Employees to Reserve a Room for a Fitness Class

There are obviously some legal considerations here since this may be outside your scope of business. But you may have a conference room that can be easily repurposed. It isn’t getting that much use these days, thanks to video conferencing, now is it?

Consider bringing a yoga, Zumba, or CrossFit instructor in monthly to host a class. Or let your health and wellness team run point on this one.

6. Make the Office a CSA Pickup

Many local farmers organize into co-ops called CSA’s (Community Supported Agriculture). Then, together, they provide weekly boxes of a variety of locally-grown whole food on a subscription basis.

Encourage signup with new employees at the beginning of the season (around April-May in most parts of the country. Offer a discount on the service. These boxes will typically provide enough fruit and veg for a family of 2-4 for a week. But don’t leave the singles out. You can also set up a sharing system so produce doesn’t go to waste.

You may even be able to arrange for the farmers to deliver the boxes straight to your office if you get enough subscriptions, making this so convenient and affordable, everyone will want to sign up.

7. Encourage Mentally-Healthy Work Practices

Some people don’t take their vacation days and lose them. They may work excessive hours, hoping for a promotion. They may take their breaks or lunch at their desk so they can keep working.

While this ambition is admirable, it can devastate mental health, lead to burnout and unscheduled absence.

Make it a policy not to promote overwork in the workplace. Instead, promote quality work.

Also, make mental health resources available to your employees, like free or discounted bereavement counseling, mental health therapy, addiction therapy, etc.

8. Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis

Absenteeism due to illness costs companies billions. The CDC estimates lost productivity costs around $1,685 per employee. These kinds of initiatives won’t cost near that buy can have a ripple effect on families and the community that directly and indirectly brings these costs down.

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