As employers, we often think about how we can make our workforce more productive. How we can train them up so that they can give us more. How we can get them to work harder and faster. Maybe even how we can retain them long term, so that we’ve got the best team and we can save money on recruitment and training. You may even have considered how to make them happier. But, have you thought about how to keep them healthy and how this could help your office run more smoothly?
The average US worker takes 14 days off sick every year. That’s without serious long-term illness. These days off cost over $576B a year in benefits, sick pay, loss of income and sales, lower productivity and the cost of replacement staff or overtime. Poor health is costing the nation hugely, but if you run a smaller business, you could feel the effects even more.
If your workforce is smaller, even one member of staff taking time off can have a negative impact. In a large business, there is always someone to cover; there are often people seeking out overtime and more than happy to take on the extra hours. Even if it’s a skilled job and the tasks cannot be transferred to another employee, there are options. In a smaller business, you can feel a little stuck. Staff have to muddle through and do their best. Morale can be affected, and ultimately other overworked staff can need time off to recover. One employee taking a few days off sick can have a domino effect and should not be underestimated.
However, the solution to this isn’t frightening you staff into never taking time off, as some companies have tried to do. This just leads to more sickness long term, illnesses passing between staff, slow staff that can’t work to their best because they are fighting off bugs and unhappy staff that don’t stick around and don’t give you their best.
Instead, you need to find ways to make sure your staff stay happy and healthy long-term. You might think that their health isn’t your concern. It’s something that’s out of your control and that they should look after themselves. But, full-time workers spend around 2000 hours a year at work that’s 85 full days. Longer than many of us spend sleeping or doing fun things with our families. Your staff spend a long time with you, giving you a fantastic chance to have a positive effect on their health, saving your company (not to mention the healthcare industry and the economy on the whole) a fortune and helping you to create the best team you possibly can. Here are just some of the things that you, as an employer, can do. No matter how big or small your business is.
One of the main things holding people back when it comes to looking after their health is failing to understand how important it is or being overwhelmed by contradictory advice and guidelines. Try to do your bit to help, especially if you work in an industry that could have a negative effect on health. Educate your staff on symptoms to look out or and how to protect themselves. Even working in an office can lead to stress, back pain, carpal tunnel and headaches.
Put First Aid Training in Place
Long-term health problems aren’t the only thing to consider. Unexpected accidents and injuries can also be a huge issue. As an employer, you’ll need to have basic first aid training and a certificate to prove it. But, you may want to consider more in-depth training for yourself, and the rest of your team. Especially if you aren’t always there. Check out cprheartcenter.com for details of course that you and your staff could take.
Have a System
A common problem is that even with the right training if something does happen, people don’t know what to do. They’re confused, they make poor decisions, and the correct care and attention aren’t given. Have systems in place so that any illness, accident or injury is dealt with promptly and efficiently to minimise any trauma and disruption to both the victim and the rest of your workforce.
Filter this down to your sickness policy generally. Make sure everyone knows what to do if they are ill. If you want them to ring in before a certain time, or provide you with evidence, make sure they know. Then, keep in touch throughout the length of their absence, so they feel valued and appreciated, and so that you know what to expect at all times.
Stress is a leading cause of illness and time off work. A little stress might not seem like a big deal. We all have bad days at work and sometimes we need to let off a little steam. It’s probably not something that you’d need to take time off work for. But, left untreated, stress can become something more serious. It can lead to physical symptoms or even more severe mental health problems which can stop someone doing their job.
As an employer, one easy way to reduce your employee’s stress levels is by being flexible. If they need time off, or to work different shifts, try your best to be accommodating. Then they will be happier coming to work, without stressing or worrying about what’s going on at home.
To be flexible and give your staff the support they need, you need to be approachable. You don’t want them to be afraid of coming to you with issues or telling you that they need to take time off, especially when it comes to difficult or perhaps embarrassing issues. Hiding their problems will only make it worse. So, be nice. Get to know your staff, operate an open-door policy and let them know that they can always talk to you about anything. If they do call in sick, don’t try to make them feel bad or attempt to force them to come back to work before they are ready. Instead, tell them to take their time to get better and to let you know if they need anything.
Working too hard, for too long can lead to all kinds of problems. Staff sat at a computer can get migraines, sore wrists, bad backs, long-term poor posture, varicose veins, stiff necks and eyesight deterioration. Those working in a more physical industry can pull muscles and suffer injuries, and whatever you do, without appropriate rest breaks your immune system can struggle to fight off bugs and illnesses.
Make sure you and your staff are all taking a substantial dinner break and regular shorter breaks throughout the day. Even a 5-minute break to clear their heads and stretch their legs can make the world of difference to their long-term health.
Install a Water Cooler
Drinking more water is perhaps the easiest way to live a healthier lifestyle. Yet so few of us are doing it. At work, when you are busy, it can be hard to drink enough water. Make it easier for your staff by giving them access to fresh drinking water. Install a water cooler and encourage them to bring in a bottle to take to their desk so that you are helping to save the planet at the same time. If you’ve got a kitchen or staff area, it can also be a good idea to fill it with healthy snacks like fruit, to prevent them from bringing in unhealthy food.
Add Other Facilities
If you’ve got space in your office, add a gym and an employee shower. OR even just a shower so that your staff can run or cycle to work. Try to make exercise as easy as possible.
Keeping fit when you are working full-time is tough. Many people simply don’t have the time to go to the gym or workout, and they might not want to hit the gym on their lunch break. So, make it even easier. Offer incentives and bonuses for those that cycle or walk to work. You could even launch a scheme that helps you buy your employees bikes, again saving the planet as well as improving their health.
Make Fitness Fun
Another thing that stops people working out is that they just don’t like it. Going to the gym can be incredibly boring if it’s not something that you enjoy. So, try to make it fun. If there’s more than a few of you, you could start a team and perhaps even a league with other local businesses. Ask your staff what kind of things they’d be interested in, but some great ideas include soccer, football, softball and roller derby.
Get Involved in the Community
There are plenty of community activities and events that are looking for help. Sign your company up for some sponsored events like 5k runs and get everyone training together. Or volunteer your time to helping local gardening projects or cleaning up the community. Just getting everyone involved in things together is a fantastic way to have fun and keep fit.