10 ways to invest in the health and wellbeing of your staff.

A few weeks ago, I argued the case that “care is not a luxury” when it comes to looking after your employees. A business is only as great as the people working in it, and it’s your job as a leader to look after those people.

I wrote, at somewhat great length, about how occasional staff parties and sporadic beer Fridays is not a wellbeing strategy. Employee care needs to be an integral part of your overall business strategy, not an afterthought.

Whilst it’s beneficial to consider the reasons behind a strategy, I’m a firm believer that real change comes from getting things done. If you’re part of the 54% of businesses that don’t have a formal wellbeing structure in place, here are 10 ways that you can change that.

Implement a flexi-time scheme

Start by looking at the way your employees work. There’s compelling evidence out there to suggest that enabling a flexi-time scheme has great benefits to the health and wellbeing of employees.

Giving them more freedom with their time can greatly reduce the life stresses of being constantly caught up in rush hour and struggling with school drop-offs. It also enables staff to work at times when they work best, which greatly increases their productivity.

The scepticism over flexi-time stems from the anxiety that when people aren’t there, they’re likely to be needed the most. However, this can be easily solved by implementing a good communication system and core hours that all staff have to be in the office.

Support employee career development

There’s a high chance that you have some employees who aren’t entirely happy in their job roles. Do you know who those people are?

It’s likely that a high percentage of them are young. You hired them for the job at a time when they weren’t sure what they wanted. They’re driven and motivated but have their sights set on another path.

Don’t let them feel pigeon-holed into their current job, if that’s not where they want to be. Listen, engage and help them to develop their career — whether it’s in what they’re doing or in a different department.

People are more driven at work if they feel supported in doing what they love.

Invest in the training

Leading on from the last point, you need to invest in developing the skills of your employees. No matter how experienced they are in their field, there’s always more to learn.

In fact, it’s often the most experienced in the workplace who want to learn more.

The more training your staff have, the more confident they’ll feel in their job and supported they’ll feel by you. This will have a knock-on effect to keeping attrition rates low and operational efficiency — and therefore profits — high.

Host monthly recognition events

When’s the last time you thanked your employees for their work?

In almost every study looking at ways to increase workplace engagement, “improving employee recognition” came out in the top three.

There’s a simple explanation for that: your staff spend a large chunk of their lives at work — they need to know that what they’re doing is making an impact.

You don’t need to host big awards events every month, but a simple “employee of the month” scheme, with the reward of getting an extra day off or voucher will go a long way.

Organise social events

Whilst sporadic parties and beer Fridays are not the answer to implementing an entire wellbeing programme, regular social events should still be a core part of improving staff happiness.

In February 2017, Gallup found that close friendships at work boost employee satisfaction by 50% and people who would work with someone that they describe as a best friend at work is 7 times more likely to be fully engaged.

By creating a space for your community to come together and start blurring the boundaries between professional and personal lives, you’re enabling these friendships to take place.

Invest in workplace ergonomics

Reduce the employee health care costs by building a workplace that’s far healthier and safer for their bodies.

Poor ergonomics leads to frustrated and fatigued workers who cannot perform to their highest abilities. Whilst it’s initially costly to invest in better workstations, there are clear long term benefits.

If your employees are feeling less tired and uncomfortable during their working day, it can reduce sick days and turnover, and increase morale.

Create another space for employees to work

Not everyone works well by sitting at their desk all the time — day in, day out. Do you?

Sometimes, people need a quieter, more comfortable place to zone in and get their work done.

Create that space for them.

Studies have found that a simple change of scenery when working can improve brain stimulation tenfold.

A very simple space with sofas, different artwork and a more relaxed ambience can make all the difference.

Make exercise a bigger part of the office culture

Everyone knows that exercise is an essential investment in maintaining good health. There’s a tonne of research out there that proves the phenomenal benefits that regular exercise has on your productivity.

Those who already exercise don’t need to read the statistics — you know it’s true.

If you can only commit to one thing on this list right now, please let it be this one.

For this point, I wanted to share a list of ways that you can invest in exercise, inspired by my own businesses and the practices of my peers. Not everyone has the luxury of having a large budget to spend — yet — but there’s always something you can do:

● Create an exercise room in your office — or, even better, a fully-equipped gym

● Get a bootcamp instructor in a few times a week

● Hold walking meetings

● Organise a sports afternoon for the whole team

● Get an office football team together

● Implement a rule that everyone must leave their desks at lunch

● Organise an office running club

● Give prizes to people who’ve run the most miles in the month

Enable staff to have a healthier diet

Here’s another simple solution to caring for the health and wellbeing of your staff: ensure they’re eating well.

Add herbal teas to the usual tea and coffee for staff, keep a fruit bowl stocked up and fill up pots with nuts and seeds. When you’re rushed off your feet but need a snack, going for high-sugar fast food is often the easiest option. Make healthy alternatives readily available.

Another way that many companies are increasing healthy eating is by revising their canteen menu, and even creating team building exercises around cooking and foraging.

Implement mindfulness programmes in the workplace

Finally, I cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that you’re doing what you can to support the mental health of your employees.

Your mindfulness programme can be as simple as giving everyone access to the Headspace app and organising a yoga class a few times a week. However, if you’re noticing that some of your employees are struggling with stress, pay for them to do a mindfulness course.

The important thing with mindfulness — and everything else mentioned, for that matter — is to make sure that it’s integrated into the language and culture of your business. The best wellbeing strategies are implemented based on what your company and, most importantly, your employees need.

Opening up the line of communication about health and wellbeing gives your employees a safe space to learn, grow and help you to improve the health of your business, too.

Mark Cushway is the CEO of the Inspired Group of companies and is passionate about employee welfare, engagement and motivation. Connect with Mark on Twitter and LinkedIn. This blog post is also available as a podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud.

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