How to Build a Healthier Work Environment

The health and well-being of your employees is important. From reducing stress to ensuring the workplace is clean and hygienic, there are different ways you can support your employees’ health. Did you know a healthier work environment leads to higher productivity, lower absenteeism, and lower turnover? Here’s how to create a healthier work environment for your staff and visitors, as well.

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The work environment itself can contribute significantly to your employees’ health. A supportive, harmonious workplace can help your staff reach their full potential and create a more collaborative work environment where everyone can succeed, including your business.

With the right strategy, you can take steps to improve the health and well-being of your employees, starting with the workplace. Explore some of the ways you can make your workplace a place where your teams feel happy and motivated, that put their health first.

How to build a healthier work environment

Promote a positive work culture

Foster a positive and supportive work environment where employees feel valued, respected, and appreciated. Encourage open communication, collaboration, and teamwork among employees. When employees feel valued, they contribute positively to the business’s success. By opening communication channels, you learn quickly when there’s a problem and you’re in a position to fix the problem before it becomes a bigger issue. DEI company workshops, such as those offered by inclusio, can also be a valuable tool for creating awareness and broadening your employees’ perspectives on diversity.

Provide ergonomic workstations

Your office design can have a big impact on your employees’ health. Ensure that workstations are properly designed to promote good posture and minimize strain on the body. Offer adjustable chairs, desks, and computer monitors to support comfortable and safe working conditions. Basic elements like a comfortable temperature can impact someone’s health and help people feel happier in the office.

Another element to consider is lighting. Artificial lighting can cause headaches and affect eyesight, which is why natural lighting can make a difference in your workplace. Alternatively, investing in LED flat panels can help you create consistent, effective lighting that is much gentler than traditional lighting. It’s also better for the environment and can help you reduce your energy bills.

Encourage physical activity

Bring in health and well-being initiatives, including physical activity. You can improve your employees’ health and well-being through fitness challenges, healthy snack provision, and meeting-free hours. These actions can help relieve stress and give your employees the time and space to focus on their health, while reward and recognition can help your employees feel more positive and motivated in their roles. Having blocks of time to focus on a project rather than letting meetings spread throughout the workday also helps employees feel a sense of accomplishment and leads to higher productivity as workers don’t waste time switching gears between meetings and accomplishing tasks throughout the day.

Bring in a range of initiatives that reflect your workforce’s interests and diversity to help you develop a workplace that puts everyone’s health first.

Some workplaces offer something as simple as a basketball hoop and balls that workers can use when feeling stressed or stuck on a problem. Often, physical activity helps them find a great solution. Other workplaces allow time for workers to visit the gym (some offer free or discounted memberships for the gym in the building) or engage in other physical activities (especially those that give back to the community, like a beach cleanup) as time allows.

Promote physical activity among employees by encouraging regular breaks, offering flexible work hours to accommodate exercise routines, organizing group fitness activities, or providing gym memberships or fitness classes. Promote physical activity among employees by encouraging regular breaks, offering flexible work hours to accommodate exercise routines, organizing group fitness activities, or providing gym memberships or fitness classes by offering fitness studios that are part of a high-class fitness coaching program.

Offer healthy food options. Provide access to nutritious food options in the workplace, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. Consider partnering with local vendors or providing healthy snacks in common areas. Some tech businesses, especially pre-pandemic, organized free meals for employees, sometimes employing chefs to create culinary excellence for the staff. Google, for instance, has a policy that workers must have a nutrition station located within so many feet of their workspace. Some stations feature drinks and snacks, while others offer salads, sandwiches, and other grab-and-go food options. Not only do these nutrition stations keep their staff fueled but nearby collaboration spaces mean workers have downtime for casual conversations that might turn into great ideas for the company.

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Encourage regular breaks

Encourage employees to take regular breaks to rest and recharge. Encourage them to step away from their desks, stretch, or engage in activities that promote relaxation and stress reduction. Some companies offer a quiet space for staff to recharge, while others offer more elaborate pods where staff can relax, listen to music or quiet sounds, and maybe even get a chair massage. A corollary to this is to promote mental health awareness more actively and provide resources for employees to seek help if needed. Offer employee assistance programs (EAPs), counseling services, or workshops on stress management and resilience.

Create a smoke-free environment

Most modern office buildings no longer allow smoking for everyone’s health. Implement and enforce a smoke-free policy within the workplace. Offer resources and support to employees who want to quit smoking. But don’t ostracize smokers, as that creates more stress. Offer a smoking area where smokers can get their fixes without interfering with the health of non-smokers. Keep it convenient but not visible as part of a worker’s normal traffic pattern so those trying to quit don’t have to walk through a haze of smoke to get their jobs done.

Provide education and training

Offer educational programs and training sessions on topics like healthy eating, exercise, stress management, and work-life balance. This can help employees develop healthier habits and make informed choices. Education also makes employees feel valued and binds them to the organization, thus reducing turnover. While I always recommend unfettered education, when employees gain education in areas that help them advance in their careers at the company or fill gaps that make the company more competitive, it enhances everyone.

Foster work-life balance

Encourage a healthy work-life balance by promoting flexible work hours, remote work options (if feasible), and clear expectations around workload and deadlines. Encourage employees to disconnect from work during their time off.

Work/life balance is important for everyone. As an employer, there are ways you can help your employees maintain a work/life balance, including putting measures in place to help them keep to regular working hours and eliminate the culture of always feeling on-call. Some countries now mandate that employees’ off hours during evenings, weekends, and vacations be free from work interference via email or phone calls.

When senior leaders display good time management habits, they can help create a more positive working culture in which employees feel their time is respected and that there is a boundary between work and home.

Lead by example

That brings up the notion of leading by example. As a leader or manager, set a positive example by prioritizing your own health and well-being. Encourage healthy habits, participate in wellness activities, and show support for your employees’ well-being.

Address the concerns of your team

One of the most effective ways to make workplace changes is to consult directly with your employees. This can help you understand existing concerns and problems, helping you form a plan to address them. From issues with the toilet facilities available to issues that may be causing stress or anxiety, this is your chance to work with your employees to build a better workplace environment for them.

Conclusion

Focusing on health and well-being can help you take your business in a wonderful new direction. A more inclusive and respectful workplace can help people feel at ease to enable them to do their best work, while also improving efficiency to boost productivity in the workplace. A health and well-being strategy can transform your business, so start by focusing on creating a healthier work environment and seeing the benefits it can bring to your employees.

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