Workplace wellbeing has been a focus for business and governments in recent years. Promoting a strong culture of health and wellbeing in the workplace has flow-on effects, for the workers, their families and the community.
What is Workplace Wellbeing?
Workplace health and wellbeing is a holistic approach to organisations looking after the physical and mental health of their employees. Traditionally, occupational health and safety was concerned about reducing physical risk and avoiding accidents. Now, in 2019, businesses are also looking for ways to look after worker’s mental health, making things like stress and work life balance as important as physical safety.
How Does Wellbeing Affect Performance?
Research has shown that mental health is integral to productivity. Employees who are mentally and physically healthy also take less sick leave and are less likely to change jobs. Absenteeism and labour turnover both impact operating costs and profitability.
Improving the physical and mental health and overall happiness of workers does not need to cost employers a fortune. Businesses can make small changes to make theirs a happy and healthy workplace. Here are seven simple ideas.
#1 Encourage Healthy Eating for Workplace Wellbeing
A workplace that supports healthy eating can significantly contribute to employee’s overall health. Recent public health campaigns about the risks of sugar have led to less soft drink vending machines in workplaces. Some companies are taking the next step by providing talks, cooking classes and nutrition training to educate employees about healthy eating.
Time-poor people often choose less nutritious options for their lunch and dinner. By educating workers about fast, healthy, budget-friendly food options they can prepare ahead of time and may reduce their risk of developing chronic illnesses such as diabetes and obesity. Providing fruit for snacks is relatively inexpensive and is likely to be noticed and appreciated by your employees.
#2 Use More Plants in the Workplace
Research into indoor plants at work has shown employees benefit in several ways. Plants remove some of the carbon dioxide we breathe out and replace it with oxygen. Humans want to connect with nature and office plants can reduce employee’s levels of stress, anxiety and hostility.
Workers with indoor plants in their offices scored higher on workplace wellbeing and productivity scores in a study of 7,600 office workers in 16 countries. Plants also reduce the risk of sick building syndrome.
Best Indoor Plants for Workplaces
Some indoor plants perform better than others. Good indoor plants don’t mind low light conditions, are efficient at removing volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from the air, have attractive foliage and are low maintenance. Some plants to consider include:
- Spider plant
- Mother in law’s tongue (snake plant)
- Pathos (Devil’s ivy)
- Zanzibar (ZZ plant)
- Fiddle leaf fig
Concerned that your plants will need lots of watering and care? You can outsource all of the work by using a company that will supply and maintain all your office plants for you like our friends at Mr. Pot Plants.
#3 Improve Indoor Air Quality to Improve Health
Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) occurs when indoor air can’t escape and outdoor air can’t easily enter the building. Synthetic building materials and furnishings can contribute to poor air quality. Cleaning chemicals and personal care products can also add to poor IAQ. Poor indoor air quality can result in ‘sick building syndrome’. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, itchy or watery eyes, dry skin and poor concentration. If you think poor air quality is affecting health and wellbeing in your workplace there are a number of steps you can take to fix it.
Steps to Improve Indoor Air Quality
Some simple actions can make a big improvement to a workplace’s air quality such as:
- Service air conditioners regularly
- Check humidity levels are kept below 60%
- Reduce the use of chemicals throughout the workplace
- Clean thoroughly to reduce dust particles
- Remove any mould and avoid wet surfaces
- Check the ventilation system is delivering the correct air exchanges
- Use air purifiers
- If windows can be opened, open them regularly to let in fresh air
#4 Encourage Stretching Breaks
Most office workers know they should take regular breaks away from their desks and keyboards but don’t do it. They either forget, feel they are too busy or don’t want to be seen taking time out when they should be working. However, a few simple stretches can improve employee wellbeing by helping them avoid muscle aches and injury, eye strain and stress.
If the company encourages all employees to take regular breaks to walk around and do a few standing stretches, it will become a habit and more employees will join the movement.
#5 Mind and Body Classes at Lunchtime
Teaching employees new skills that can benefit both their mind and body brings physical and mental health benefits. It rewards the company with increased engagement and retention levels. Better physical health reduces absenteeism and adds to a more positive work environment.
Some yogis credit yoga with reducing stress levels, improved focus and energy levels. Companies can offer yoga classes in the conference room, storage area, or outside during lunch time. This will encourage employees to leave their desk and enjoy the physical and mental health benefits of yoga.
Mindfulness Training For Better Mental Health
Mindfulness is simply paying attention to the present moment, allowing you to rest your body and mind. Feelings of gratitude and being able to focus on what matters in life means you are less likely to react to negative thoughts and feelings. Using mindfulness can help you switch off from the screens and technology you use constantly and clear your mind.
By offering mindfulness training to employees you are providing them with skills to manage their mental health. Studies show mindfulness programs can help with depression, anxiety and stress. It helps individuals cope better with long-term health issues, have stronger relationships and the ability to focus better at work.
#6 Provide Managers With Mental Health Training
For decades workplaces have been concerned about the physical health of their workers. Most workers in high-risk jobs understand the importance of a safe work environment to avoid injuries. Improved ergonomic equipment and training has made office employees aware of the risks of musculoskeletal injuries.
In recent years, the focus has shifted to mental health. There’s a greater understanding in the community and less stigma so people are more inclined to seek help.
By providing training to managers, they can spot when an employee is struggling with a mental issue. It may be a personal problem or workplace related such as a high workload, bullying, or stress. All managers can benefit from learning how to help employees struggling with mental health affecting their career. It could be particularly valuable for people working in HR and health & safety roles.
#7 Invest in Ergonomic Equipment
There are tonnes of equipment in offices around Australia that don’t meet basic ergonomic standards. Tired, outdated and downright dangerous furniture and accessories increase the risk of injuries to employees.
Throwing out the old and introducing ergonomic mice, office chairs and monitor stands, provides employees with a safer, more comfortable working environment.
By improving the comfort level, employees won’t tire as quickly and are more productive. New equipment can even reduce absenteeism rates and boost morale. Using a height adjustable sit stand desk will allow workers to change from sitting to standing during the day, improving wellbeing and wellness by reducing the real health risks of sitting all day.
If you are looking for office equipment that can help improve the health and wellbeing of your employees, talk to one of the experts at Ergolink by visiting our showroom, call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.