The True Cost Of Employee Health

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Here's how different health offers can get your staff to be more productive and happier - because happy & fit employees will help your business grow!

Corporate wellness is big news in business right now and we are beginning to see a rise in the number of companies that are beginning to take the health and wellness of their employees seriously, taking action to tackle health issues in the office, improving employee’s quality of life and preventing the associated costs of sickness that they have to bear.

However, corporate wellness is not a quick solution that can be slapped over an existing issue, it’s not just about providing the best healthcare plan that you can afford; much of it comes down to company culture, behaviour and education and when conducted properly it can have an unbelievable impact on staff performance. No matter the size, location or purpose of a business, employee wellness should be close to the heart – the great news for startups is that it is far easier to adopt and implement such behaviours from the initial stages than it is for an existing business to begin to modify them.

Tech giant Google promote the fact that they WANT their staff to be healthy and go about removing all the barriers that they can to ensure this, providing on site medical staff, travel insurance for their staff and their respective families and even ‘nap pods’ for quick nap breaks for employees.

There are countless reports on the effects that healthy employees have on a business, when people are happy, supported and both physically and mentally well, they come alive and perform at a level that those who are stressed, anxious and exhausted from their job cannot comprehend. It’s unlikely that as a startup you can offer your team such sought after perks (for the time being!) but below are some ways that you can support the wellness and health of those that work for your business.

Discourage Presenteeism

The opposite of absenteeism, presenteeism is the growing phenomena of employee’s turning up for work when they are ill. Employees often feel pressured to continue to go to work when they are unwell because of fear of being criticised or worries about job security. However, it is suggested that this behaviour is actually costing businesses in excess of £15 BN per year in the UK alone, as productivity is decreased as employees take longer to recover without proper rest and are likely to pass on illness to their peers.
It is critical that our new wave of startups work to counteract this workplace attitude and the impact it is having on the economy; lead by example – if you are unwell, do not come into work, culture needs a top down approach. Offer flexible working arrangements if necessary, is it so imperative to stick to the 9-5 restriction? Stay far away from outdated ‘aggressive’ sickness policies, these will counteract the culture you are trying to implement. This includes allowing time for doctors and dentist visits, catching issues early can go a long way to preventing reduced work rates or long term sick leave.

Have Healthy Food & Drinks Available

Providing food for your team has great benefits, providing healthy food for your team has incredible benefits. There have been various studies into the impact that healthy eating has on the productivity and engagement of employees, and one found that those that eat healthily are 25% more likely to have higher performance.

To avoid the highs and lows that come with unhealthy convenience food, stock up on healthy and nutritious snacks and drinks that will keep up the energy levels and avoid the 3pm slump.
Juices and smoothies are an easy way to increase nutrient intake, so as well as the other mod cons, a blender could be a worthwhile investment for the company kitchen.

Encourage Fitness

Good fitness requires discipline, and it requires the mentality that you are working hard consistently to achieve a goal – the same mentality that should be applied in a work environment. Not only does employee fitness go hand in hand with eating well in terms of increasing employee productivity, it also makes them happier!

Exercise induces stress hormones, so endorphins are released to counteract this, resulting in a feeling of euphoria! This doesn’t have to mean that you go about arranging gym memberships with a corporate discount, exercise can also go a long way to strengthen relationships within a team, so by incorporating some ‘keep fit’ into the working week with a morning stroll or afternoon bike ride, you are not only providing a welcome break from stuffy offices but you are contributing to the health of your business – it’s not that unheard of – some businesses have started to offer in-house yoga to increase office zen.

Alternative Employee Benefits

Mashable once published a post that was ‘6 Companies With Awesome Employee Benefits’, and while for startups and smaller businesses, many of these aren’t within their reach, there are ways to reward and incentivise without opting for the easy option of money.

One popular idea to combat bad posture and muscle tension caused by sitting at a desk all day by having a masseuse visit the office on a monthly basis. “Regular massages is a great way to relieve the body of stress and fatigue and induce a feeling of relaxed and invigorated”, explains the CEO of Total Health Clinics, “More businesses are offering massages to the employees as it can be administered in their office during working hours and has an enormous impact on the alertness and general wellbeing of staff.”

Dog friendly offices are also on the up, not only offering peace of mind to their owners, studies have shown that having dogs in the workplace can actually lead to better team collaboration due to increased moral and feelings of trust (they can also be an excuse for lunchtime exercise!).

This is an incredibly new and brave way of challenging legacy HR policies, but let’s face it, it’s likely that your workforce, sooner or later will include millennials, and they will expect just as much from their employers as we expect from them as employees. The fear factor is, ‘what if people push the boundaries?’ and the simple answer to that is, these people should not be working for you and having transparent strategies and policies in place will allow you to quickly determine which staff are going to driving your business to future success and which will be a drain on time and resources.



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