5 ways to integrate health and wellness into your workplace
We spend one-third of our life at work, so it makes sense that a work environment has a major impact on our physical and mental health. As a business owner, it’s important to be conscious of the environment you provide for your team and manage it as part of an essential productivity tool.
Staff wellbeing has come into the spotlight recently as a top priority for workers. Health, especially mental health, is something people are no longer taking for granted. Providing wellbeing as part of your office culture not only reduces stress, increases productivity and helps staff reach their full potential, it also helps with staff retention, so you’ll get happier, healthier staff who stay with your company long term.
There are three areas of well-being to keep in mind and foster - either in your office or across your team if you have remote workers or hybrid work set-ups:
- Physical care
- Social interaction
- Psychological strength
Don’t be afraid to get creative in how you provide your wellness and health programs. A big part of getting a great fit comes down to your team personality, the space you work in, as well as your industry. Open a discussion with your team as well to hear what their needs are and what works (or isn’t working) for them.
Just be careful not to go overboard and become pushy about compulsory health practices. These are invitations and opportunities only. You can count on individual team members to be responsible for their health, all you are required to do is meet them halfway and support them with events, services and easy-to-access resources.
Why workplace wellness is important
Employees with great physical, social and mental health have a better quality of life, have a lowered risk of disease, take fewer sick days and are more likely to actively contribute to their team, leading to increased productivity for your business.
You’re also unlikely to do your best when you feel tired and unmotivated, so applying wellness activities to the entire workplace - including team leaders and CEOs - is a decision for organisational growth. It also sets a great example for the rest of your company to choose healthy lifestyle choices and build better communication and engagement.
While some of the suggestions in this blog are free to implement, don’t be afraid to throw some time and money behind them. Wellness should be considered as an investment, your employees are important assets–when your team is behind you doing the hard yards, you get the ability to discover new ways of working, problem-solving and growing as an organisation.
Another benefit of investing in workplace wellbeing is that it shows your team that you really care about them. When too much of the day comes down to performance numbers and KPIs, staff can feel undervalued and underappreciated. Looking at them as individuals with needs shows you care about them beyond the stats and figures and increases their personal satisfaction.
Taking care of your current team’s wellbeing also snags you the best new employees. New recruits are actively seeking workplaces that provide well-being programs and look after staff health. Having this as part of your recruitment offer will help attract talent that can not only do the job, but who will stand by the same values you do.
5 ways to include health and wellness in the workplace
Health and wellness practices need to be embedded in your company culture and activities. This is not a one-and-done deal, you need to make sure you set it up and keep it going. If interest in activities is lagging, have a conversation with your team about what needs to happen to find the fun and make the necessary adjustments.
Kickstart a wellness programme
Improving employee wellness can take many different forms depending on the size of your organisation and your budget. If you are new to this, start small and build up to a more extensive program with time.
Here are some great ideas to get you started:
- Individual or group coaching sessions. This can be around education as well as inspiration for topics like mindset, stress relief, personal training, self-confidence and meditation.
- Team community activities like soup days or taking turns to bring healthy snacks, teaching other team members about a personal hobby, Fitbit competitions or walking groups.
- Regular, professional in-office massage sessions (i.e. monthly).
- Invite a fitness instructor to lead a fun and friendly after-work exercise class, like Zumba yoga or floor barre.
- Provide access to wellness checks and regular flu shots with healthcare providers.
You can also organise hikes, join cooking classes, attend sports events, art classes and after-work drinks so even the least physically inclined member of your staff is looked after.
Team building activities not only improve health and get people moving, but they also improve staff relationships for better culture, acceptance and communication. When you think about it, exercising is more fun when you’re with others too.
Improve employees’ work-life balance
If your team’s chatter around the watercooler focuses on needing more hours in the day, it’s time to offer better work-life balance options.
- Offer more flexible work arrangements. While some staff thrive on being in the office, others crave hybrid work arrangements and more flexible hours. When you open up conversations with your staff you might find they prefer part-time workloads or starting work early to running the regular 9-5 Monday to Friday.
- Encourage your team to use their paid leave. Make sure you take scheduled time off too, to show that it’s okay not to be at work all the time.
- Look at shaking up the traditional team/cubicle seating arrangement with some more flexible workspaces like hot desks, standing/sitting desks and flexible coworking spaces
- Give employees opportunities for networking and connections that reach beyond work, like walking groups and team sports - hire a nearby facility for basketball, badminton or rotating indoor team sporting activities for lunch breaks.
Offer health-based bonuses
A way to motivate your team to make healthy choices is to include these as part of staff remuneration packages. Common benefits are mental health services or gym membership perks.
Mental health services can include access to psychologists, paid mental health days, company retreats as well as health and wellness training and education days.
Memberships at nearby gyms can also involve passes to activities like pilates or yoga, with your organisation providing extra time off to attend.
Healthy snacks can be part of your employment package, with a variety of fruit or fruit juices available in the staff kitchen. This might even include sandwiches, salads and prepared vegetables or equipment like juicing machines, filtered water on tap and other healthy eating incentives.
Bonuses can also take the form of vouchers to reputable day spas for massage treatments.
Open communication with your employees
Health and wellness at the office extend beyond exercise classes. According to the National Study of Mental Health and Wellbeing, one in five Australians of working age experienced high or very high levels of psychological distress in 2021.
Open up conversations about mental health to help reduce the stigma and silence around this issue. You can start by going beyond niceties with your staff members, and ask them how they are doing and if there is anything they need. When you have their trust they will be more likely to open up, maybe not with you, but they will feel more confident about reaching for the support you have provided.
Places to go for help need to be provided on message boards, in newsletters or on display in break rooms so staff know their options and have avenues for support.
Selecting the right office space
The space you provide will make a big difference to how your employees feel about spending the day at work. Some things will need to be controlled when you are selecting your office space, while others can be introduced no matter where you are.
- Choose an office space with great windows - beautiful views shouldn’t be reserved for CEOS, all staff deserve pools of natural light and leafy surrounds. You can add a touch of this anywhere by bringing in indoor plants - lots of them, and investing in some bright and colourful artwork.
- Look for beautiful bathrooms - Five-star amenities really show your employees you care. You can add a touch of this anywhere with luxury soaps and soft towels, quality toilet paper and clean bathrooms.
- Seek out engaging spaces - as well as individual desks, create open space for conversation and engagement. This might be a long table or lounges, even bean bags if your team is up for it. The aim is a comfortable space to talk and share ideas.
- Create a private sanctuary - there will be times when your team members need some peace and quiet. Having a room with dimmable lights can help provide a tranquil retreat - it also shows some flexibility for different religions who might need a prayer room, or mothers returning to work who need to express milk for a baby.
Like any new practice for your organisation, taking action for employee wellbeing requires consistent effort and adjustment to see which ways best suit your team.
Integrating health and wellness in your workplace takes consistency and effort, but you’ll find your team to be more balanced, happy and productive overall after you’ve made it a habit.
Including team well-being into daily work activities can start anywhere and is best supported by a working environment that’s as flexible and proactive as you are. When you are ready to take the next step in your business workspace, contact us to see our flexible range of high-quality workspaces.