Comment by Health Assured CEO and wellbeing expert David Price
It’s that time of year when everyone is beginning to make their New Year’s resolutions, most of the time these resolutions tend to about their health and wellness. Promoting good health and wellness should also be an employer’s goal for 2018 so with this in mind, here is a summary of the six best workplace wellbeing initiatives and trends that businesses should look out for in 2018.
1. Sit-stand desks
There is no escaping the fact that the majority of employees time in the office is spent sitting at their desks. This lengthy level of sedentary behaviour can have serious downsides to a person’s health and has been associated with various physical and mental conditions including obesity and depression. To counteract this sit-stand desks can be effective in reducing the amount of time staff sit down and are no longer the obscure recommendation they used to be (however they can be costly). Even if a workplace can offer a regular sit-down desk only, chances are they may have electronic devices such as a laptop or a tablet that can be used to migrate to a different working area. Finding a table top that’s the right height can be tricky, but if they have one in their workplace it can break up the day and a mixture of sitting and standing can easily become a reality.
2. Workplace naps
Sleeping on the job is very much a workplace taboo, however, a 20-minute power nap has been proven to reduce stress and increase productivity. As a result of this in-company sleep pods, resting rooms and snooze friendly policies are becoming increasingly popular, with tech giants like Google and Uber leading the way. Understandably not everyone has the luxury of being able to step away from their desk for an hours sleep but lunch hours and tea breaks can be a great time for employees to have a quick nap in a quiet dark room.
3. Digital detox
Many of us work in a culture where we feel we are unable to switch off or put down our phones even when it is the weekend or when we are on holiday. The need to keep up to date with work emails or make that quick phone call to the office during personal time is something that many of us struggle with. But not having good boundaries around work and personal time can be counterproductive and leave employees far less effective at work and can lead to an employee burning out. If businesses want employees to take a digital detox they should consider encouraging employees to get away from their desks and disconnect from all technology at lunchtime. But most importantly employers must create a workplace culture that supports digital detoxing as many employees feel guilty about taking a break when they actually should. When employees know that taking a break is not only acceptable but necessary for good job performance, they will be more inclined to do it. At a time when many employers expect round-the-clock communication, encouraging employees to take a digital detox is not just good for employees – it’s good for business. Work burnout, caused by stress levels that affect an employee’s job performance is something that more and more people are suffering from. Being constantly connected to smartphones, laptops, and tablets after work can now also leave people susceptible to digital burnout.
4. Financial wellness programmes
Research from the CIPD in 2017 revealed that UK adults believe their financial situation will worsen due to economic factors such as driving down wages and rising living costs. This is a worrying time as financial stresses go hand-in-hand with reduced mental health and wellbeing. And while it’s devastating for the people going through it, businesses can also suffer. If an employee is in trouble, there’s a high chance that they’ll struggle to focus on their work, make mistakes, or miss their targets. To support employees, employers should consider getting an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). It’s a confidential outlet that can help employees out of their financial hole. EAPs combine in-person, online and over-the-phone support services like debt counselling and financial advice. Businesses should also think about offering lines of credit advice on how to manage money or a workplace financial education, Such as classes focusing on making the most of existing income through better money management and savings plans.
5. Giving back to charities and the community
Participating in charitable initiatives help employees feel good about themselves and proud of where they work, which in turn builds loyalty among them. Many employees would love to have time to do charity work, but can’t fit as much of it into their lives as they’d like to because of time spent working. By giving employees several hours per month to do charity work, this can be a perk that benefits not only employees but the local community, too. Giving back is an important part of Health Assured’s culture. We recently worked with a local homeless charity and donated a considerable amount of clothing, food and gifts. The positive response was not only from the charity but also from our employees.
6. Healthy vending machines
The office vending machine can be a quick and easy way to pick up a snack or drink at work during busy times. One of the negatives of the office vending machine is that they usually only offer processed, sugary foods and heavy carbohydrates. Thankfully there are innovative businesses popping up across the UK who are creating healthy vending options.