How employers can help their workers stay healthier

Posted by Guest Contributor

April 5, 2013

Try these strategies for promoting well-being and health in the workplace.

By Carlo Pandian

sweatband_healthyA healthy workplace is a highly functioning and productive area to work because the better the health of the employees, the fewer sick days they take and therefore the more energy they have to contribute to the goals of the organization. That is why it is important for employers to encourage their workers to stay as healthy as possible.

Many businesses are offering a wide range of programs including health risk assessments, biometric screenings and on-site clinics and pharmacies.  Although these programs are showing low participation, when workers do take part in them they report very high satisfaction.

There are some truly impressive companies out there that make employee health a very high priority. For example, General Electric organized the Go for the Gold initiative in 2012 (inspired by the Olympics) which saw employees all over the world walking and running to reach one million kilometers in total. Employees at Google have plenty of opportunities to stay active in their job, as the company headquarters in California, USA feature a giant slide, volleyball courts, bikes and swimming pools. At Nationwide Insurance, employees can get fit at one of the on-site fitness centers and can receive discounted memberships at the gym.

Focusing on improving the health of your employees will have many positive benefits for the business, including increased productivity and decreased costs due to reduced absenteeism. It also helps to lower employee stress and improve the corporate image.

So what is the best strategy for promoting workplace well-being and health? Here are a few good ways to start:

Promote an active lifestyle

Getting in the habit of daily physical activity is one of the best things that workers can do to improve their health. There are a lot of ways to promote an active lifestyle in the workplace, such as organizing company sports teams and getting the group involved in marathons and walks for charity. You can also install a volleyball court or basketball hoop on the grounds of the company or provide your workers with gym equipment.

Encourage frequent check-ups

Many businesses have started to provide health screenings for their employees so that they can catch illnesses and problems and keep a closer eye on their health. Sometimes employees can be disconnected when it comes to their own personal health. Regular health checks contribute to better health awareness and make it easier for the employees to make good decisions and perform the lifestyle changes that they need.

Offer incentives

Some companies are offering incentives for their workers to improve their health, such as quitting smoking or losing weight. This can be a direct way to encourage workers to adapt a healthy lifestyle and improve their habits.

Enlist the help of an occupational health specialist

An occupational health specialist is an expert in health in the workplace and they are able to analyze the work environment and the work procedures. The specialist can inspect the particular workplace to see how safety and health regulations are being adhered to and help to design programs that would effectively improve the health of workers. “An ounce of prevention saves a pound of cure” says Dr. Wendy Snell, a senior clinician at private medical center Blossoms Healthcare. It can really help to have the assistance of a specialist when figuring out how to help your workers stay healthier.

These are just a few ways that employers can help their workers to stay healthier, so that they can be happier and more productive. 

Carlo Pandian is an Organisational Development graduate at The University of London and blogs about occupational health and human resources management. When he’s not online, Carlo loves foraging in the countryside and cooking Italian food for his friends. Follow Carlo on Twitter at @CarloPandian.

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Topics: HR & Benefits