Employee health is the backbone of any organization. Without healthy employees, morale and production will be inhibited. Here are eight ways you can help your employees improve their health.
1. Work Health Competitions
A great way to encourage and enable employees to improve their health is to make a game out of healthy lifestyle choices. You Can implement a series of health competitions or challenges that employees can choose to participate in for fun or prizes. Some ideas include 10,000 step competitions, habit building challenges like taking the stairs every day, and healthy recipe competitions. These challenges can also be angled to promote mental and emotional health, with ideas such as logging into mindfulness apps for a period of time each week to earn points or vacation photography competitions.
2. Water Bottle Refill Stations
Water is one of the most important things people need in order to stay healthy. You can help your employees improve their health by encouraging regular water consumption. This can be accomplished by posting signage with information about the benefits of drinking water, installing water fountains or water bottle refill stations around the office and installing a water softener to ensure the water tastes as good as it can.
3. Flexible Work Arrangements
Employees' needs and lifestyles can change drastically sometimes, whether that change is expected, such as when someone has a baby, or unexpected, such as if someone is diagnosed with cancer. You should offer flexible work arrangements for these and more mundane schedule changes, such as appointments with doctors and dentists. Flexible work arrangements can include paid family leave instead of strictly maternity leave, the ability for employees to work remotely or flexible work weeks where employees work longer shifts in exchange for a shorter workweek.
4. Low-pressure Communication
Sometimes employees feel pressured to always be available or to be able to answer communications immediately. One of the easiest ways to support the mental and emotional health of your employees is to create a small business environment where the pressure to always be on is lowered. If you need your employees to take a survey, provide ample time for them to complete it. You can also make it as short as possible or send it out to small batches of employees at intervals. Make sure managers check in with their teams more often, especially if some or all employees are working remotely, but try to keep these check-ins more casual. While some check-ins should still be focused on performance or projects, allow some to be more relaxed coffee break-style meetings. Be sure to keep your organization up-to-date regarding upcoming changes or reorganization.
5. Healthy Food Options
Similarly to encouraging water consumption, there are several ways you can encourage healthy eating at your organization. You can add healthier snack options to break rooms or the cafeteria, encourage employees to share their favorite healthy recipes and contact caterers who specialize in healthy options. You can also provide information and resources on local restaurants with healthy and varied menu options for employees who want to go out to lunch. You can send out email blasts about healthy eating, post signage in the break rooms and cafeteria and offer seminars with nutritionists as guest speakers.
6. Wellness Programs
You can offer other kinds of health benefits programs besides the standard benefits package. Promoting health and wellness at your organization can help your employees become more conscious of their health and focus on preventive healthcare, as well as making your organization attractive to the wider workforce. Showing you care about them can also improve your employee retention rates. Wellness programs can include complementary health screenings, gym memberships and free educational seminars on a wide variety of health-related topics.
7. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs)
EAPs support mental health in the workplace. These programs are separate from health insurance and are paid for by employers. Employees can access them at any time in complete confidentiality to discuss mental health or steps to take when facing a serious medical diagnosis. Make sure employees know that this program is available to them, what services are included and how to access it. These programs make it much easier for employees and their families to access mental healthcare and emotional support in times of worry or crisis, or to put plans in place to handle potential crises.
8. Mental Health Care Coverage
Mental health is equally as important as physical health. Your employee benefits options should reflect that. Check how mental health care is covered by your company's insurance provider and make sure employees have access to information regarding costs, how many psychiatric healthcare providers are in your network and what kinds of care are covered on their plans. For example, substance use disorders shouldn't be more restricted than depression or any physical conditions someone may have.
There are many ways to help and encourage people to improve their health, but some of the best strategies an organization can implement are overarching support structures, information and access to healthy lifestyle choices that don't seem daunting or overbearing.