For most office workers who sit at desks, looking at computer screens for long periods of time and sitting for just as long does not bode well for general health.
While all this time is spent sitting at the desk, the worker has no opportunity to exercise, and as a result their general health can suffer. This is met with an environment that is rife with unhealthy foods, such as biscuits in the office or the option of nearby fast food for lunch, and pubs open within walking distance of work. By the time the worker gets home, most are exhausted from the long day and their chance to exercise is limited by lack of energy.
Coping mechanisms to handle stress, such as smoking and other addictions are high in working populations and decrease the general health levels of the employee. This is bad for both the employee and also bad for the employer, as a sick employee is not productive. Time can be lost due to illness and a general lack of motivation can result in working time being less productive than it otherwise could be with healthy employees.
Employers have long realized the link between good employee health and optimal productivity levels. For this reason employers have used a range of different methods to help their staff maintain good health. One of the first steps a business can take is to take consideration when making the weekly order for biscuits and office foods, ensuring that only low fat, healthy options are provided. Fruits and vegetables should be on offer whenever a low fat biscuit is on offer, to allow for good health choices and improve the five a day. Try over time to filter out the biscuits and chocolate and just leave the fruit and veg such as carrot sticks or cucumber slices, or even cheese and crackers.
There are a variety of fitness opportunities that employers can avail of in different pricing options:
- For sizeable firms, adding a gym on site with exercise equipment is a great way to provide the necessary tools employees can use to maintain their health.
- For smaller firms, providing memberships to a local gym or health centre is a great option. Within reach of the office, local gyms offer a low cost and easy alternative as employees can fit in their workout either before or after work, or perhaps even at their lunchtime.
- Forming a sports team among the employees is a low cost alternative and games can be held against different employee teams or even with other firms, boosting health, morale and working as a team. This can be a great way to network with other businesses and within a league style competition. Any team game can be chose for the company sport, whatever people like to engage in will work best.
Where an employee has an unhealthy lifestyle, such as with the addition of smoking, companies should try to encourage the employee to engage in making changes.
This can be accomplished in part through limiting smoking breaks or even banning smoking from the property. The ill effects on a person from smoking shows that there is a cost saving for companies who do not have smokers taking more than usual time off for related health reasons, so it is a beneficial move to limit or ban smoking at work, potentially saving money in health care and increasing productivity with healthier employees. Cigarettes are far from the only option for those craving nicotine with the development of numerous quit smoking aids, and schemes could be implemented to encourage employees to quit smoking for good.
Individual health can be improved through a few small adjustments to normal life; in doing so, the overall health of the team will increase, which will prove to be a benefit to the company. Fostering a group mindset of the marginal gains can yield great results over time, and will help to make a difference in each employee’s health inside of work and in their private lives as well. The methods which are used to gain better employee health are much the same as team building and morale boosting exercises, which will gain more than financial rewards and be seen in more subtle, long term ways.