Employee Health | How to level up your workplace health standards?

Google is the dream company of many. Employees want to work at Google. But why? Have you heard about the workplace strategies of Google? According to Investopedia, Google wants to make its employees’ lives easier, and it’s constantly searching for ways to improve the health, well-being, and morale of its Googlers. In modern terminology, this is called “Employee Health”. It’s the talk of the town named the corporate world.

What exactly is Employee Health?

Evident by the term itself, employee health is the health of your employees. Now health is not just the absence of illness but the presence of physical, mental, and social wellness. Thus, employee health is the disease management for your employees and efforts to promote wellness and preventive measures for them. 

These efforts are in a direction to have healthy, engaged, and foremost happy employees at the workplace. The concept of employee health covers everything which affects any of these factors. These may include the promotion of regular exercise and nutritional habits or maintaining a smoke free, hygienic, and clean workspace or providing medical assistance to co-workers.

These can be specific to some groups of people like period leaves to menstruators or contact assistance for employees coming from a rural area. The overall delivery of these in a bundle is referred to as employee healthcare. 

But why? Why do I need to provide all these expenses from my pocket, isn’t the health of a person their own duty? 

Yes, it is but the fact that you are losing a lot by avoiding this. 

What?

Absolutely. Have a look. 

Your business is lagging from poor employee health

The direct measure of profit or loss for a business is money which is second to employee productivity. Unhealthy employees mean loss of productivity and hence loss of money.

The UK lost €92 billion in 2019 alone due to poor employee health. 

There are two types of productivity losses a business suffer due to employee health:

Absenteeism and Presenteeism. 

Absenteeism is plainly the absence of employees i.e. they are on leave. These may be sick leaves, carer’s leaves, or compensation leaves. It’s easy to notice and access. Next to it is presenteeism which is the productivity loss when the employee is present but not working up to their potential because of feeling unwell. And the productivity loss due to presenteeism can be 4 times the same due to absenteeism. 

What are you saying? You mean we offer unlimited sick leaves to people, and that too paid? We have hired them to build assets for our company not for them being a liability. 

No, providing sick leaves won’t help. 

What you have to do is provide them with health and care. You have to spend on them. Compare this with the concept of advertisement, you let go of the money for ads because you know that will create more money in return. It’s the same logic here, a healthy workforce = more work = more money. Big companies like Google, Microsoft, or Zomato do that and they have amazing results, which proves the benefits of your expenditure on employee health. 

Which benefits? Why is Employee Health important?

There are many like reduced absenteeism, employee turnover, and an increase in staff morale and productivity. Let’s discuss employee turnover. Imagine you hire an employee, train them for 6 months of the work and then you have to let them go and look for another employee. This is what we call employee turnover. And as a business, it is a matter to worry about. Turnover leads to a halt in the workflow of at least an entire department, costs of hiring new people, and delays in the delivery of the work to clients. An average employee leaving costs 33% of their annual salary.

But let me tell you that employees which are happy and feel secure in their current workplace are less likely to change their employer even for slight pay increments. Employers who focus on employee wellbeing have turnover rates around 70-75% of the same of those who don’t focus on workplace wellness. And that’s why employee health is important. They feel like they are being taken care of. This sense of care is what stops them from going to a new workplace and they deliver their best to your company. It’s like how a person works for his family. Employee health makes that bond between you and your employee.

In all of this, you are saving your money in the end and creating a positive image for your brand in the corporate world. Good health is good business. People know the quote but they don’t know how to do good business, i.e. how to take care of their employees’ wellbeing. 

Is that the case with you as well?

Don’t worry as now we’ll talk about

Best Practices for Employee Health Programs.

The complete health scheme created for the ultimate motive of a healthy employee is what we call an employee health program or an employee health plan. There are a lot of things one can do for corporate wellness but these are the ones best suited for your business. Let’s get into them,

Cleanliness

In spite of the fact that this is very obvious, the practical conditions of workplaces explain why this is on the list. The absence of cleanliness is an inhibitor of a healthy lifestyle and gives rise to the spread of many detrimental health issues and their carriers. 

In the current situation of coronavirus and re-opening of workplaces, the importance of cleanliness reaches a new high. Regular disinfection of touch-prone surfaces is a need of the hour. 

Some of the changes you can make are:

  • Daily collection and disposal of garbage. Also, make sure that the garbage is segregated properly. 
  • Installation of touch-free hand sanitization systems.
  • ONE MORE

Advocacy of Regular Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is a cost effective way of promoting exercise in employees. With the corporate culture, it is something that is avoided naturally. We sit in front of a screen the entire day. This sedentary lifestyle is one of the major reasons for health problems nowadays. 

Inducing these physical activities in the workstyle of the company, you are moving on the path of better employee health. Things you can do include are:

  • Promoting stairs instead of elevators.
  • Recommend 5 min walk sessions after every hour of work.
  • Include an annual sports day for the office. Works like a charm with a little expenditure.

These small changes can lead to blood pressure management and cardiovascular wellbeing. Physical exercise also increases energy levels and thus more engaged and more productive co-workers.

Healthy Nutrition

Nutrition is as important as exercise. And it is often overlooked in our race of productivity but it is not the actual case. Lack of proper nutrition directly affects the productivity of an individual. Proper nutrition provides us with the energy we need to run our body and brain in coordination for best outcomes. Healthy nutrition is a must.

You can make free fruits and juice available for the employees regularly or in the cases of long shifts. Storage service for tiffins is another great option.

These also include promoting healthy habits such as no-screen lunch. You have your lunch with your eyes away from computers and mind at ease. Hence the assimilation of nutrition provided by the food is maximum. 

More nutrition = More energy = Unmatched productivity.

Smoke free workplace

Although smoking is a personal choice when in the office every employee must ensure that the premises are smoke free. It’s intuitive, SMOKING KILLS. We all know that but some still smoke and let their organs get damaged. It doesn’t stop here because smoke filled environment is dangerous to others as well and hence take the following steps to maintain a smoke-free environment at your workplace:

Forbid smoking at the workplace and in company vehicles.

Organize seminars by collaborating with local doctors for awareness of the dangers of smoking.

Promote quit smoking programs on campus.

Remember that smoking reduces more than 10 years from a person’s life which is indirectly a loss of the power force.

Reduce Alcohol Consumption

Similar to smoking alcohol consumption is a personal choice of the employee. It is a leading cause of diseases such as liver problems, cancer, heart problems, and kidney failure. Two main reasons for alcohol consumption are 1) stress and 2) celebration. So considering these you have to work on the root causes here which are:

  • High work burden
  • Non-availability of alcohol free drinks at office events
  • Lack of “alcohol at workplace” policies

Therefore, design “alcohol at my workplace” policy. Make non-alcoholic options available during office celebrations and provide a facility of counselling to tackle the situation of work stress leading to alcohol.

Effective Vacations

Do you know Netflix has an unlimited vacation policy? They do not keep track of vacations taken by employees and it has done wonders for them. But this has not worked well for many other companies. What is the reason for that? 

This is a psychological pattern that an employee does not take a vacation if the official they are directly reporting to does not take vacations. It has been found that limited vacations are offered by many companies and they are sufficient enough but employees do not take them because they are mentally compelled to work if their boss is working. 

The scheme of accumulation of vacation pay which is paid during retirement (usually followed by government departments throughout the world) also contributes to this. 

These breaks are performance boosters. Just like how an F1 car gets replacements after a lap, these vacations fill the employee with new motivation to excel at their work. Hence the maintenance of an effective vacation culture is a great step ahead in better employee health and safety.

Incentives and Medical Assistance

These are the efforts requiring direct investment in huge chunks of money. The most common incentive is life insurance. For big businesses, it is legally required for an employer to provide life insurance to the staff. But even small businesses can step in this territory and they definitely should. Other than that you can provide regular checkups at your place. These may be complete health checkups or specific checks such as eyesight problems or throat problems.

Medical assistance can be provided in other ways as well. For eg. having a partnership with a local hospital for hassle free experience for your employees. One unique technique is to provide fitness bands to make them aware of their own habits.

Mental Health of your employee

As we are getting more and more educated on the topic of mental health we are becoming increasingly aware of the detrimental effects the stress from office has on an employee. This stress can cause physical ailments which we have read above but it can also put someone in depression or make someone a regular recipient of anxiety attacks.

And a depressed mind is not able to engage completely in the work costing the company human resources. Before other actions, the stigma around mental health issues has to be broken in the office. Encourage positive discussions around the topic and in general about other things in the company as well. Train your HRs about mental health strategies and work towards getting constant work from your employees but not overworking them at the same time.

Other General Steps

  • Place a weighing machine near the entry gate. The mere presence of it will raise consciousness among the staff members about their weight. 
  • Regular reminder messages for healthy habits to the employees.
  • As we are using screens more and more, each employee can be provided with eye protection glasses which save their eyes from the harmful blue radiation.

All in All, along with your employee you are the one at loss by avoiding employee health at your workplace. People from owners of small businesses to Bill Gates are talking about the benefits of a health oriented approach to the corporate world and a healthy workforce. 

More than helping employees you’ll be helping yourself. Moreover, it creates the bond of trust between your team and we have seen throughout the centuries that well-bonded teams unleash the magic. Your mindset is now encouraged to the simultaneous progress of your business and your employees’ health. So what are you waiting for, design your employee health program with the information you just got before the workplaces open completely.

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