A healthy employee – mind and body – will ensure your small business stays a productive team focused on meeting your business goals
Investing in your employees’ health and wellness is akin to investing in your company’s future. Healthy employees take fewer sick days and suffer fewer stress-related issues — they’re also far happier and more productive. Taking a proactive approach to employee health will not only pay off in increased productivity, it will also have a positive impact on your bottom line.
Here are six simple, low-cost ways to keep your employees healthy and happy:
Stock The Kitchen With Healthy Snacks
Keeping a well stocked office kitchen makes sense — employees need small, frequent snacks to boost their metabolism and normalize their blood sugar. This keeps them focused and productive throughout the day. However, if employees are munching on unhealthy foods, snacks can actually cause a downturn in productivity. That’s why it’s important to provide certain types of food (those high in protein, amino acids, and antioxidants) to keep your employees healthy.
The following are great healthy snack options to keep in the office kitchen:
- Fresh fruit
- Low-fat cheeses
- Veggies and hummus
- Granola bars
- Peanut butter
- Dark chocolate
- Sparkling water
- Various teas
Supplying your office with nutrient-rich snacks is a fantastic way to help your staff keep hunger at bay while improving their focus.
Fight Eye Strain
Employees who spend their days staring at a computer screen for hours on end are at risk for digital eye strain. When suffering from eye strain, an employee’s eyes become dry, their vision goes blurry, and they begin to have trouble focusing on things. For the sake of their eye health, have them to utilize the 20-20-20 rule.
The 20-20-20 rule works like this: Take a break from the computer screen every 20 minutes by looking at something that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This break helps to readjust an employee’s vision by relaxing the eye muscles and preventing them from “locking up.”
Have Walking Meetings
Gone are the days when every meeting has to be spent around a table in a conference room. Championed by Mark Zuckerberg and President Obama alike, walking meetings mix things up in a good way.
What’s so great about taking your meetings outside?
Walking meetings allow employees to blend physical activity with work. Not only does this result in a much needed energy boost, it also leads to improved health (and lower healthcare costs.) Furthermore, Nilofer Merchant brought up a fantastic benefit of walking meetings in her TED Talk — they flatten the office hierarchy and promote creative thought. So, next time you need to talk to your team, put on your walking shoes and take everyone outside for some much needed fresh air.
Create Quiet Spaces
One of the biggest problems with the open office environment is the incredibly high level of both noise and distractions. These open workspaces are overwhelming for introverted, highly sensitive, and highly productive employees. For the sake of their mental health (not to mention the ability to put forth their best work), it’s imperative you create quiet zones, where employees can retreat if they need to concentrate on their work, or simply need some time to themselves.
Let There Be (Natural) Light
According to a study from the American Society of Interior Designers, 68 percent of employees are dissatisfied with the lighting situation in their offices. This is most often due to harsh fluorescent lighting, which is known to cause eye strain and trigger migraine headaches. The fact of the matter is, no one enjoys sitting under flickering fluorescent bulbs for 8-10 hours a day.
The easiest and most effective solution to lighting wars is to simply open the blinds! Natural light is not only free, it’s also needed to help regulate the body’s circadian rhythm. If your work days start or end in darkness, supply your employees with desk lamps to provide soft lighting for tasks.
If you live in a location that has long, dark winters, you might want to consider investing in a few “sunboxes” — lamps with full spectrum bulbs that mimic daylight. Employees that struggle with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) will be better able to fight symptoms and more likely to have productive days.
Encourage Sick Days
There are many reasons why employees force themselves to come to work when they’re ill. Some worry about falling behind on their work, others fear being reprimanded by their boss, and still others simply can’t afford the financial hit that comes from missing an entire day of work.
In order to keep employees both physically and mentally healthy, you need to create a work environment that encourages people to take time off when they’re sick. You can do this best by setting up a system where sick days are separate from vacation days and don’t roll over from year to year. This removes the incentive to work while sick and bank more vacation time.
In those instances where employees are insistent upon working while sick, allow them to do so from home. This affords the ability to rest a bit more and keeps them from bringing viruses into the office.
Keeping your employees healthy goes far beyond ensuring that they have affordable access to medical care. Little changes made around the office — such as lighting, snack options, and quiet spaces — can go a long way in promoting the personal health and wellbeing of your employees. Your commitment to their health supports not only their efficiency and productivity on the job, but also in making better, healthier life decisions. That’s a win for everyone.
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