Seven Ideas for Boosting Employee Health
By: Jill Navidomskis – SnackGenius Operations Manager
Healthy employees are happier and more productive at work. On the contrary, unhealthy employees cost companies money.
According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, small employers (100 employees) can expect costs from absenteeism to be between $16 and $81 per employee per year. The study examined the association between employee absenteeism and five health conditions; including smoking, physical inactivity, obesity and two chronic diseases. As shocking as these expenses are for small companies, the study revealed larger employers (1,000 employees) can expect employee absenteeism to cost between $17 and $286 per employee per year.
You probably don’t have to do the math to know how important employee wellness is to a company. So, given the importance of improving workers’ health, what about employee wellness programs offered by employers today?
A report produced by the RAND Corporation, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reveals over 80 percent of U.S. companies with more than fifty employees offer some sort of corporate wellness benefit.
But what else can be done to boost employee health? Or what if you are a smaller employer that doesn’t offer any wellness benefits?
Here are some simple ideas to get employees moving and healthy—both mentally and physically.
A Monday morning email with easy desk workouts, like these from Lifehack, or motivational quotes, can be just what your employees need to get going. Desk workout ideas should remind employees they don’t need to don gym shorts and drench themselves in sweat to begin improving their health.
Take a Walk
Encourage employees to take a short walk two or three times a day. Fresh air can reenergize stagnant minds and the health benefits of even a 10-minute walk might surprise you.
Take the Stairs
We know: Not everyone works in a building with stairs. But for those that do, just know that every minute of climbing the stairs burns between five and 10 calories. That’s just one minute!
Provide Healthy Snacks
Ah, the office candy jar . . . But did you know just one fun-size pack of Peanut Butter M&Ms has 95 calories? While it may not seem like a lot, your employees’ three or four trips a day to the office canteen can really add up. Instead of enabling unhealthy habits, provide healthier snacks. Nuts, jerky, granola bars and trail mixes are great alternatives to sugar-loaded candies.
Promote Active Commutes
Run. Walk. Bike. Whatever active forms of transportation an individual employee might prefer should be encouraged. There are many health benefits to active commuting that can carry over to the office in increased productivity. Give your employees credit for office time when they choose human-powered commuting options.
Provide Fitness Trackers
Fitness trackers are ubiquitous on the wrists of gym-goers. But for those that don’t own one, having their employer provide one could be the motivator they need to get moving more. From Fitbit to Garmin to Apple, the options for good fitness trackers are endless—and many at reasonable prices. Sponsoring a fitness competition among your employees can really amp up the motivation of the more competitive workers—you know who you are!
Create a Company-Wide Mental Health Plan
Mental health issues often get overlooked. But they shouldn’t. If your employees’ mental health is in jeopardy, they are less likely to focus on their tasks while at work. Provide an Employee Assistance Program to give your staff the mental health support they need.
HEALTHY EMPLOYEES = HAPPY EMPLOYEES
Do your part in supporting your employees’ health. It will pay off—literally. You’ll get healthier employees, both mentally and physically. Plus, they will be happier, more dedicated and engaged at work knowing the organization cares about their well-being.