Published on Jun 7, 2019
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Instigating a wellbeing at work program can have many obvious and some less obvious benefits. It can improve productivity, help reduce sickness and sick leave, and it can improve employee retention rates. It can also show the people who work for you that you care about what happens to them.
Recent studies show that 40.3% and 20.2% of employees are overweight or obese respectively. These conditions costs the economy $637 million a year. This figure includes healthcare, but also productivity and absenteeism.
Wellbeing programs come in all shapes and sizes. They can be tailored to suit the size and makeup of your workforce. And they can focus on the issues that specifically affect your employees. No business is too large or small to think about these issues.
A program can have many aspects to it. They don’t have to just focus on physical health, they can also address issues of mental health and stress. Wellbeing can also foster team building as a by-product.
Simple tips to get started
Two problems in the modern workplace are unhealthy eating and being sedentary.
- Encourage healthy eating. This can be done in a number of ways but the best place to start is to replace the vending machine fare with healthier snacks.
- Share some of the facts about snacks and treats. Eg. Did you know that a 375ml bottle of soft drink, fruit juice or energy drink can have between 10 and 14 teaspoons of sugar! But don’t get overzealous and don’t name and shame people.
- Urge staff to get away from their desks at lunchtime. Studies show that people who work through lunch are less productive. A walk outside for 20 minutes helps pump the blood and clear the cobwebs.
- Encourage stretching at your desk. Put screensavers on the computers and signs around the workplace to remind staff to stretch every hour. It can also help stop sore muscles developing from working at a computer, or other tasks, all day.
- Promote workplace activities like walking or running groups at lunchtime, or start a team sport. And there’s nothing like a little competition to get people interested.
- Make sure you include activities that everyone can participate in. While the lunchtime walking group is off having a good time, what about the person on reception? Ensure that there is an opportunity for everyone to get involved, this may include a roster system.
- Ask your staff for input, you may be surprised how many new ideas come up that can easily be implemented in your workplace.
Don’t forget mental health and stress
Wellbeing programs should also include things like stress reduction, anti-bullying and creating realistic workloads.
Common conditions like depression and anxiety may also impact on work performance, so it’s a good idea to think about how you can improve mental health issues in your business. One in five people will have a mental health issue in their lifetime.
The bottom line
A recent study showed that every dollar spent on wellbeing programs, saved or benefited an organisation six dollars.
For more ideas on creating a healthy workplace go to the Department of Health website.
There are tons of tips on mental health and wellbeing in the workplace on the Australian Government’s Comcare website.
Don’t forget to include your own physical and mental health. Here for some ideas on how to identify and manage your own stress and mental health as a small business owner.
Go here to revisit an article we wrote on mental health for small business owners.
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