Patrick Van Der Mijl, Co-Founder & Chief Product Officer, Speakap
Did you know 53 percent of workers believe their health is impaired by their workplace? That’s both alarming and unfortunate. It’s not the kind of problem that can be fixed with a single solution or quick fix. It requires a comprehensive,multi-pronged approach from companies and their HR departments. If this approach is undertaken from a holistic level and spans the course of an entire year(and year after year after year), it can do wonders to increase employees’energy, focus and productivity levels, mood,brain power, posture and overall physical health.
While there are a multitude of wellbeing initiatives that organizations can implement, there are three simple and cost-effective ways organizations can get started.
Motivate and incentivize employees to exercise
Most employees, especially those who work in non-desk roles and stand on their feet for up to 10-12 hours a day, want to relax once their work shift/day has ended. That’s understandable. But that can often lead to more sedentary time and less physical activity/exercise. That’s where organizations can step in to motivate and incentivize their workforce to get active.
Let me give you an example. At our organization, we have a few company-sponsored physical health programs. For one, we have a weekly running group (we call them “Striders”) for the employees who are running enthusiasts in their personal lives. This group runs every Thursday during the official lunch period (12 pm) and then returns to eat lunch together.
Another initiative we’ve recently launched is a fitness bootcamp. This is not mandatory and includes a group of approximately 12 employees(from our Amsterdam office) who voluntarily signed up to take a weekly boot camp class taught by a personal fitness instructor every Tuesday afternoon. The class is encouraged, sponsored and paid (significant portion) for by our company. While it’s only begun recently, we’ve seen some employees push themselves outside their comfort zone. More importantly, it’s forged a unique bond with the group and they support each other knowing that each individual employee has different fitness routines and skill levels.
Stock up on healthy foods to increase employee productivity
There are a lot of scientific studies that point to workplace foods contributing to unhealthy eating habits among employees. Take,for example, a recent study of over 5,000 employees across the US, which found that the foods people get at work tend to contain high amounts of sodium and refined grained and very little whole grains and fruit.
This isn’t that surprising to me. But it’s also a key reason why companies shouldn’t simply be providing any type of free food and snacks to their employees. They should be providing food and snacks that are both healthy and tasty.
For example, my company provides daily lunch to the employees. However, we specifically source the food, snacks and beverages from local food suppliers/supermarkets. And the types of items we purchase include fresh meats, vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce, fresh spreads (i.e.hummus, tuna, babaganoush, pumpkin, etc.). As a practice, we don’t supply sodas in the office. Instead, we stock up the fridges with a variety of juices and water.
If you provide healthy food and snack options to your employees, they’re more than likely to eat it. And on the days when they’re craving something a bit more decadent, they can always head out to a restaurant or café.
Use a digital Do Not Disturb feature to empower employees to disconnect
Over the last few years, the legal right to disconnect movement has been growing around the world, from France to Germany to even potentially the US now. Some of the world’s biggest brands are also putting their own restrictions in place.For instance, German auto manufacturer Volkswagen has banned out-of-work emails. It takes this need to disconnect so seriously that the company even configured its servers so that emails would only be sent to employees’ phones for 30 minutes before the start and end of the work day (and not during the weekends).
Volkswagen isn’t the only brand to take this route. For example,it was reported in 2017 that German car parts supplier, Continental, has banned its 240,000 employees from using WhatsApp and Snapchat on company-issued mobile phones. Both of these apps save users’ contact data,stored in their phones’ address books, and transfer the information to their own servers. So it’s not only emails that are being banned; it’s also certain consumer-focused messaging apps that could put corporate and employee data at serious risk for privacy and regulatory violations.
Given how glued to people are to their mobile devices,apps and social media – and the digital overload that can ensue as a result –employers should be doing what they can to encourage employees to cut the cord when they end their work shifts and go home (or wherever). This is something we felt was incredibly important and the impetus for why we launched our own Do Not Disturb feature within our own employee communications platform this past January. Through our Open API, businesses can integrate their existing or custom software packages, including HR systems, CRM systems,payroll tools, workforce management systems and more. This is especially valuable for those companies located where ‘right to disconnect’ and‘anti-stress’ laws are already in place, or being proposed.