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How Employee Health and Productivity are Connected


Your ideas, insights and strategy may be what charts the course to success for your business, but it’s the hard work of your employees that propels you towards your goals and helps to perpetuate your ongoing success. It is important to note that there’s a causal relationship between employee health and productivity that many business owners tend to overlook.

How Your Business Benefits from Healthy Employees

Healthy employees represent fewer overhead costs, helping businesses to ensure a smooth cash flow. Less healthy employees mean more sick days. More sick days mean less productive and satisfied employees remaining to pick up the slack left by absent colleagues.

Yoga-at-work A 2015 study by Brigham Young University demonstrated that absenteeism was reduced by 27% when employees had a healthy lifestyle, exercising regularly and eating healthy foods.

An August 2017 study carried out by the University of California Riverside found that companies offering employee wellness programs saw a significant gain in productivity among workers. It was found that all employees who participated improved productivity an average of one full workday per month.

When employers take meaningful steps to ensure that their employees are happy and healthy, they’re also more likely to be engaged in their work while serving as happy ambassadors for the brand.

(Recommended Read: Tips for Keeping Employees Happy and Motivated)

These moves can drastically reduce employee turnover-thereby saving you a fortune in finding, recruiting, training and onboarding new staff members. This provides continuity of service for your customers and creates a team dynamic that makes your workplace a better space for everyone to spend their days.

These facts aren’t necessarily news for most employers. In fact, 93% of business owners believe that healthy employees are more productive yet they rarely take steps to promote healthy lifestyles in the workplace.

So, how exactly do you go about making your employees healthier? We are glad you asked.

1. Allow discounted access to a local gym


A Leeds Metropolitan University study found that workers who went to the gym during working hours were more productive, managed their time better, and felt more satisfied at their job.

Reach out to local gyms to see if you can arrange a discounted deal for your employees. By making it easier and more affordable to get easy access to regular exercise, you can help them to lead a more active lifestyle while showing them how much you care about their health and wellbeing.

2. Give them plenty of access to healthy foods


If your workplace’s vending machine is loaded to the brim with fatty, sugary and salty snacks (as, let’s face it, most are) you could be inadvertently bottlenecking your employees’ productivity.

Of course, what constitutes a healthy diet is a source of fierce debate. Some insist that all carbohydrates are evil while others are adamant that fats should be feared. Some are certain that keto is the way to go while others maintain that anyone not on a vegan diet is playing Russian roulette with their health.

So, how do you ensure your employees enjoy a healthy diet when each has a different definition of what a healthy diet entails. More whole foods, less processed foods, more plants and a better ratio of nutrients to calories are a good place to start!

3. Make sure they get away from their desks every once in a while

You’ve likely already heard that sitting is the new smoking. When we spend all day seated, we place a lot of stress on our internal organs, reduce our ability to digest food efficiently, and increase our risk of a wide range of health issues including heart disease, diabetes and even some forms of cancer.

With that in mind, try and give employees the freedom to get out of their seats and away from their desks for at least a few minutes every hour. You can also bring in sit-stand desks so that they aren’t stuck in their chairs all day.

4. Allow them to work flexibly and give them time off when they need it


Chronic stress is a major contributor to some of our nation’s most fatal chronic health problems. Thus, anything you can do to alleviate employee stress can go a long way.

One of the major ways in which employees can reduce their stress levels is by giving them flexibility in their working hours. Working days are easier and more relaxed when employees know they’ll finish work in time to pick the kids up from school or be able to hit the gym before their working day starts.

Also, when you give employees access to days off when they need them they’re 14% more engaged when they return to work.

Sick days are like parachutes on airplanes. It’s good to know they’re there even if you hope that you’ll never have to use them. Many businesses believe that they can lower operational costs by limiting or refusing sick days to employees, but there’s no evidence to suggest that when they are unlimited they’re used disproportionately.

5. Incentivize employees to walk or cycle to work where able

Most employees want to lead a healthier lifestyle and/or reduce their carbon footprint. You can help them to do both. Offering incentives to walk or cycle to work can ensure that employees are happier and more alert after getting a rush of endorphins on their way in.

Contributing to the cost of a new bike or simply having facilities for them to take a shower before getting to their desks can make a huge difference.

6. Provide incentive trips


Finally, one of the most meaningful ways in which you can contribute to the health, happiness, and productivity of your employees is providing incentive trips. These not only get them some much-needed time away from their desks but also allow them the chance to see and experience places that they might not be able to without you.

These trips can also help encourage team building and make a significant contribution to employees’ mental health and happiness. They also show employees that you care about and value them as human beings, outside of the specific functions they fulfill for your business.

As you can see there is a correlation between employee health and productivity. Of course, everyone should want to take the steps towards a healthier lifestyle, but you, as an employer, can give them the nudge they need to start by offering specific benefits and incentives that affect their health.

(Recommended Read: How to Prevent Employee Burnout at Work)

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