How to promote health and wellbeing at work? 


January 09, 2020
Global tech businesses have been at the forefront of wellbeing at work. Companies like Google and Facebook offer employees free food, gyms and training courses in a bid to keep staff happy and productivity high. They are seeing the return on this investment in the form of increased employee satisfaction. Google found wellbeing initiatives boosted happiness by 37%. This in turn impacted their bottom line, with a 12% rise in productivity. 
There are two sides to an employee’s wellbeing; physical and mental. Although one will impact the other, it is best to have a separate wellbeing strategy for both, if possible. 

Across much of the western world, obesity levels and the associated health issues are reaching an all-time high. This is putting a strain on healthcare systems globally and leading to more absenteeism from work.

Help your employees stay physically healthy by:


Offering healthy snacks:

If the free meals offered by the tech giants is a step too far, consider having fresh fruit delivered to the office regularly. 


Encourage employees to move:

Whether this is through lunchtime walks or encouraging employees to take the stairs rather than the elevator. There are lots of simple, cost effective ways to start employees on a path to better physical health. If you have the space, consider contacting a local yoga or pilates studio and offering a subsidised after work class one day a week in the office. 


Avoid sedentary days:

One of the biggest challenges for office workers is being ‘tied to their desk’. Research by Pennington Biomedical over 13 years showed those who sit for most of the day are more than 50% more likely to die of heart attacks. Ensure the physical environment is set up to facilitate movement. If possible, have bicycle storage and showers so employees can walk, run or cycle to work. 

In the office, standing or walking meetings and banning lunch at desks, are inexpensive ways of encouraging employees to stand up over the day. If you have some budget, consider investing in standing desks and have an ergonomic expert assess employees working environment. 

The World Health Organisation reported that one in four people around the world are likely to be affected by a mental health issue. However stigma and discrimination can prevent people from accessing help that is available. Help employees mind their mental health by:


Encouraging work life balance:

Finding a balance between work and life outside of work is essential to our mental health and wellbeing. Although it may not seem like it, having a good work life balance has been shown to lead to higher productivity and better employee retention. Ensure employees are not working late or starting early on an ongoing basis. 


Monitor and evaluate your workplace for issues that may impact mental health:

Encourage top down promotion of your workplace as a safe space for employees to discuss mental health issues that are impacting their ability to do their job effectively. Ensure management are trained to recognise the signs of common mental health issues in the workplace including chronic stress, anxiety and depression. 


Promote activities that improve mental health and reduce stress:

Although a certain amount of pressure at work is healthy. If it manifests into a high-pressure environment, it is more likely to impact the wellbeing of employees. Help reduce stress at work by ensuring workloads are manageable and expectations are realistic. In addition to this, encouraging physical activity and connection between employees is likely to improve how employees perform. Consider a team building day, social night or informal lunch to help people build friendships with their colleagues. 


Offer Employee/Expat Assistance Programmes:

Last but by no means least, consider investing in an employee assistance programme where employees can access professional support either on the phone or in person. Employees on expat assignment do not have to be excluded from this as there are now Expat Assistance Programmes allowing them to access the help they need no matter where they are in the world. 


In this increasingly technological world, global business relies on human capital, more than ever before, to create the intellectual property to stay ahead of the competition. Ensure your employees are feeling physically and mentally well so they can deliver the quality of work your business needs.