What Managers Can do About Employee Health & Wellness
16 Sep 2019
There is no secret for business success. For a company to thrive, you need thriving employees. In this article, we explore what managers can do to improve the health of their people and why it matters to your company.
Sedentary office, prolonged sitting, expanding waistline… these are just some of the terms associated with a modern workplace. Yet corporations, especially smaller companies, are not doing enough to address employee health and wellbeing.
There are many ways that managers can do to encourage employees to lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. Healthy employees are more productive at work, happier and this reduce the company’s healthcare cost in the long run.
A key component of employee wellness program is workplace wellness. In Singapore, several government agencies have already taken steps to drive the initiative. This is according to an article on Straits Times, “Stepping up workplace wellness efforts to boost staff productivity, morale“.
Awareness on employee wellness has also gained momentum in Asian companies. Increasingly, employee wellness could be measurable and linked to corporate benefits.
“Across Asia, wellness is increasingly considered a key component of the employee experience. As the concept of wellness gains ground, companies are starting to measure and report on the links between wellness and financial performance,” said Mr Sam Harvey-Jones, managing director of occupier services Asia at Colliers International.
A simple measure with no cost involved is to create an office culture that promotes wellbeing. Below are some practical steps that management could consider for a healthy workforce program.
Hourly Stretch Breaks
Sitting in front of the computer whole day could cause your neck and body to become stiff. Managers can encourage team members to perform hourly stretch breaks of about 5 minutes. This should ideally include neck and shoulder stretch, back stretch and some forms of leg raise. Employees do not need to leave their desk.
Again, there is no cost involved in these little exercises. Some companies may even encourage their people to stand up and stretch together.
Nutrition Counselling & Health Perks
It is commonly said that “We are what we eat”. Conducting a nutrition workshop could be very helpful for employees to eat healthier. As most of office work is sedentary in nature, many employees would want to reduce calorie intake or lose weight.
As a suggestion, HR department could introduce programs such as “Fruit of the week” whereby each employee receives a free fruit every week. This could be quite engaging for people to remember that fruits are important part of a healthy diet. It helps to raise awareness and employees become more conscious that they should eat fruits more often.
Office admin may also stock up the pantry with healthy snacks such as fat-free granola bars, fruits and nuts instead of crackers and sweets.
While large tech companies have the funds to implement fancy perks within the workplace such as on-site gyms or standing desks, smaller companies can also create an office culture that encourages healthy living. This could include introducing weekly recreation activities such as 1 to 2 hours of basketball or jogging session. It really helps to promote team bonding and get everybody laughing and sweating.
According to research, team sports is proven to reduce stress…
From time to time, employees may feel stressed or burnout from work. As HR manager, you may help your employees by introducing accessible guidance how on to manage stress. A dedicated in-house counselor or department manager could be trained in how to recognize and manage stress for his/her team members.
There are many reasons why employees may feel stressed about work. It could be meeting deadlines, heavy workload, long working hours, office politics etc. And employees may not openly share how they feel. Good managers should identify these issues and help their subordinates manage stress instead of adding more.
For working adults, there is no doubt that most of us are short of time. Many employees have to cope with tonnes of work and challenging deadlines. However, it is still viable to allow employees to sneak in a nearby gym for a quick 30 minutes run during lunch break or after work.
Gym subscription does not come cheap. So, employers can do a tie up with gym operators to offer employees a subscription that comes with corporate discount. With lower gym subscription cost, employees may be more willing to go for workouts and lead a more active lifestyle.
Healthcare costs is expected to rise every year. Companies can introduce a holistic long term strategy that encourages employees to lead a healthier lifestyle without incurring hefty healthcare costs at the same time.
Flexible Leave Benefits
The workplace today is made up of a demographically diverse workforce that includes the Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y and Z. Different generations of workers have specific expectations when it comes to workplace wellbeing. For instance, Baby Boomers tend to focus on financial stability while the younger generations might expect more work freedom, autonomy and a sense of purpose doing their work.
Similarly, working mothers might expect a flexible employment arrangement. As male employees get more involved in caring for their infants nowadays, they may also seek more paternal leaves as well.
Since there is no one size fits all solution, companies can consider introducing varying leave benefits that cater to different employee groups.
How can Companies benefit…
Healthy employees are happier, request lesser time off and more productive at work. So for companies, is it worth the effort to invest in employee wellbeing program?
Attract Talented Employees
With health perks like gym subscription, flexi-leave arrangements, employers can definitely highlight to prospective employees in job ads, on social media or even during job interviews. This helps to promote the companies overall image that the company takes priority on employee wellness.
As an employer, employee health and wellbeing does more than just making them happy at work. Happier and healthier employees naturally outperform the rest. For quite some time, management believed investing in employee health schemes to be a waste of money, yielding little rewards for the business. Yet, research shows that corporations are increasingly spending more than $90.7 billion globally per year on employee wellness program.
When it comes to running a business, turnover could be a big headache. High turnover can only mean negative impact on a business. When staff members quit, there are a few reactions that can take place in the company. Firstly, team morale drops and existing members may also consider looking elsewhere. Secondly, it could bring a lot of inconvenience for customers if the employee that resigned was in a customer facing role. Thirdly, getting a replacement could be costly.
Savvy companies understand they do whatever they could to retain the best people.
The Bottom Line
A workplace wellbeing that is high on an employer’s agenda will result in a more productive, loyal and committed workforce. There are plenty of “quick wins” that a company can implement to boost employees’ wellbeing in the short run. Of course, companies should not forget about long term wellness strategies.
This investment will eventually pay back through high levels of employee engagement, loyalty and retention.