Many companies now realise that the most valuable asset in their organisation is personnel. Enlightened business leaders recognise that keeping their workforce healthy is a smart business strategy. However, successfully implementing policies that will safeguard their employees’ wellbeing is another matter. Therefore, it’s essential that the human resources department finds ways to accomplish this goal. Fortunately, there are several tips that could help HR formulate strategies to keep people both physically and mentally fit.
Promote fitness challenges
These physical activities are popular because as well as being fun, they encourage friendly competition. In addition, as the employees will all know each other, HR can expect greater involvement. Also, by encouraging team participation, people will exert more effort than when they do this sort of activity individually.
You can also reward team leaders for successfully achieving their goals. By combining team and personal objectives, you will help ensure the programme’s success. Camaraderie will develop within the group as everyone will be aiming to achieve a common goal while the leaders will be recognised for their skills.
This type of programme may require a modest budget but the results are well worth it – team building is encouraged and employees’ overall wellbeing is enhanced.
Most employees will unlock their potential if they are happy and healthy. One particular study has revealed that there are three forms of happiness:
- Pleasure is a temporary feeling.
- Passion provides happiness, but only if you’re doing an activity that means a lot to you.
- Having a purpose is the highest state. Both energy and joy are ingrained in your daily life.
As a result, HR should find ways to provide the company’s employees with a sense of purpose.
One CEO advised companies to find their staff’s intrinsic motivation. This may refer to individual goals and their reasons for staying healthy. Next, management should consider encouraging their employees to adopt personal wellbeing habits. By doing so, they will feel a sense of responsibility for their own health routines.
Encourage employees to become friends with one another
Having friends can help improve your outlook on life. In a workplace environment, studies have shown that friends working together can accomplish goals quicker and with better results. As friends will know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, individuals can be assigned to tasks according to their abilities.
Besides making employees feel appreciated, social interaction can also improve productivity and provide an emotional high. In fact, HR can encourage camaraderie among employees by:
- Introducing a new worker buddy system
- Allowing people to finish their lunch break as this is the time when they can meet and chat with colleagues
- Creating slack channels or similar networks for employees to share personal interests
- Conducting yearly activities outside the company
Introduce improvised but fun contests
Sitting down for the whole working day can be both physically and mentally damaging. Fortunately, HR can arrange to break employees’ unhealthy and monotonous routines by staging improvised but fun physical activities. One company official has suggested holding dance parties in the office, lasting between two and five minutes. This type of fun exercise improves blood circulation and is an excellent stress-reliever.
A health and safety professional recruiter advised that stress is not in itself a sickness but rather a cause. Indeed, stress can result in either physical or mental illness. Therefore, it’s vital that employers identify any source of stress in the workplace and remove it if at all possible.
Consider ‘walking meetings’
Instead of sitting and huddling in a room, people should consider walking while they talk. This is a new approach that several companies have implemented. HR can promote this as a simple but healthy physical activity that can enhance productivity. Studies have shown that walking can improve a person’s circulation, focus and creativity.
Introduce flexible working hours
Whilst work is of course essential, we all have other important things in our lives, such as family, faith or even hobbies. In fact, too much work can interfere with these pursuits which can in turn affect employees’ wellbeing.
Fortunately, introducing flexible working hours can help employees alter their work schedule to fit their personal and family needs. HR can also help them adjust their hours so they can work on projects that inspire them.
Empowering employees to set their own schedules is an excellent way of establishing trust. People work harder if they are treated as partners rather than just drones.
Battle a sedentary lifestyle
Sitting down at your desk for hours on end carries the same health dangers as smoking. The New York Times has warned that this type of sedentary lifestyle can increase the risk of:
- Heart disease
It doesn’t matter if you run every morning or go to the gym on a regular basis, long hours of sitting down is still harmful for your health. So how can this risk be eliminated or reduced? HR can encourage employees to periodically stand up while they do their work. In this way, they will burn energy while strengthening their core, legs and back muscles.
Help employees with their personal development
Most people aren’t keen on working in a job that doesn’t offer any career advancement. It’s extremely important for companies to provide their employees with opportunities for learning to help them advance their personal and professional development. HR can accomplish this goal by:
- Establishing a personal development library
- Introducing individual development plans where managers discuss pathways to success
- Conducting personal and professional development sessions
If employees are encouraged to meditate, they can reap enormous benefits, such as:
- Improved sleep, mood and cognition
- A boost to the metabolism
- Weight loss
- Reduced stress
Whilst it’s preferable to employ the services of a meditation guru, if the budget is tight HR can introduce meditation apps instead. Studies have shown that after meditating, people notice an improvement in their:
- Analytical thinking
Offer unlimited vacations
To be clear, employees can’t expect to have six months’ holiday and still receive their salary! Instead, HR could introduce a policy whereby people are rewarded with an extended rest period only if they:
- Deliver the desired results
- Meet deadlines earlier than expected
- Achieve the company’s goals
This will incentivise employees to produce better than expected outcomes in order to justify their generous breaks.
Encourage sick staff to stay at home
Many companies laud people if they come to work while ill, but this approach is misguided. If a poorly employee doesn’t take time off, they not only lengthen their recovery period but they also expose other members of staff to their illness. This type of action can also be deadly. According to a newspaper article, the flu contagion is dangerous to pregnant women, older people and young children. The most responsible thing HR can do is to send sick employees home. Once fully recovered, they can quickly catch up with their work.
Make it common practice to recognise and praise employees’ accomplishments
HR can implement this strategy quite quickly. This type of initiative will let employees know that their efforts and achievements are being appreciated. Indeed, such a policy is tailor-made for millennial employees who often prefer recognition over a pay rise. Employers can acknowledge their contribution through formal programmes or with a handwritten note of thanks. Either gesture will boost staff morale.
Bring more natural light to the office
Companies should never underestimate the power of sunlight in the workplace. One scientific study even suggested that natural lighting can contribute to an individual’s health, happiness and work performance. Also, being exposed to sunlight at work can improve employees’ quality of life, vitality and sleep. In order to bring natural light into the office, companies should consider:
- Adding mirrors to boost the natural light in the work environment
- Using transparent or semi-transparent partitions or replacing solid ones
- Removing large objects that may block the sunlight from coming in through the windows
Responsible business organisations understand that it pays to look after the health of their employees. Remember, if their wellbeing is being taken care of, the workforce will usually return the favour in terms of increased productivity and loyalty. In most cases, the responsibility of developing strategies to improve the physical and mental state of employees belongs to the HR department. To successfully accomplish this undertaking, HR will need the cooperation of management and the health and safety officer.
Simon Bliss is the Managing Director of Principal People, a recruitment consultancy specialising in Health, Safety and Environment.