Growing numbers of employers are seeing the importance of wellbeing at work. Organisations who utilise workplace wellness programmes may reap business benefits in the form of reduced absenteeism, greater engagement and increased productivity. Some small-to-medium sized businesses think they are too small to have wellbeing strategies, with a third of such business owners believing that wellness benefits are just for larger firms.
But workplace wellbeing initiatives don’t need to be extravagant gestures. Ensuring your staff have plenty of breaks or offering flexible working arrangements are just two examples of low-cost but highly valued benefits you can offer your staff. Big or small, all businesses can benefit from some kind of wellness programme. Here are some examples of great workplace wellness initiatives your team will love.
Smoking isn’t just bad for health, it’s bad for business. According to public health charity Ash, employees sneaking out for a crafty one cost businesses an estimated £8.4 billion a year in lost productivity and smoking-related sickness absence.
There are many stop smoking initiatives your workplace can get on board with such as the annual NHS Stoptober campaign that aims to get smokers to kick the habit for the whole of October (and hopefully for good after that). Subsidising Nicotine Replacement Therapy for your staff could also be a great way to provide your staff with the help and support they need to stub out the cigarettes.
Life can get on top of the best of us. Long working hours, overwhelming workloads and problems at home can all snowball to create seemingly unsurmountable stress. Almost one in four employees will experience a mental health problem, including anxiety and depression at some point in their working lives, so it makes sense to keep an eye out for signs of depression in your employees and support your staff where needed. Giving all employees access to a free, confidential, workplace counselling service can be a great way to help your employees through any tough times.
The office can be a breeding ground for bad eating habits, with vending machines complete with sugar laden chocolate bars and calorie loaded crisps and snacks. Instead of these, try offering up a bowl of fresh fruit to encourage healthier food choices. Some innovative businesses are now starting to pop up across the UK offering healthy vending machines to help employees maintain a healthy diet.
Many employers are beginning to recognise the importance of sleep and its impact on employee productivity, engagement and stress levels. As a result, companies such as Google, Ben & Jerry’s and Zappos have all embraced napping as an employee perk by providing nap rooms for employees to catch a quick forty winks to recharge during the working day. If the idea of allowing your staff to sleep at work seems a little too radical, perhaps a flexible working schedule will provide the answer to helping your staff achieve their ideal work-life balance.
Not only are dogs cute and cuddly, they may also bring real benefits to your business by decreasing stress levels in your employees, reducing their blood pressure and increasing feelings of happiness! A study conducted by the Blue Cross found that 90% of dog-friendly businesses saw positive changes in the working environment, such as improved staff morale, decreased absenteeism and better employee relationships.
But if the idea of rolling out the red carpet for Rover seems barking mad, why not just give it a go for one day to see how you get on? Charity campaigns such as ‘Bring your Dog to Work Day’ encourage businesses to welcome our canine companions into the workplace for the day to raise some cash for charities dedicated to helping pups in need!
There’s nothing like a bit of healthy competition to get people motivated to exercise. Team physical activity challenges are a great way to create a buzz in the workplace and encourage staff to bond with each other. A pedometer challenge could be a fun way to encourage your staff to be more active in their day-to-day lives. Employees could wear a fitness tracker to record their steps each day and compete against their colleagues to see who can do the most. A small prize for the winner could provide the extra incentive needed for your employees to get pounding those pavements.
Sitting is the new smoking. Many of us spend 7-8 hours a day sitting at our desks, which is thought to be linked to higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and some types of cancers. Standing desks are an everyday sight in many offices nowadays thanks to a greater awareness of the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle. Sit-stand desks can be effective in reducing the number of hours staff spend sat down and could be a relatively low-cost way helping your staff to achieve a more active lifestyle.
Participating in charitable initiatives can help employees to feel good about themselves and the company they work for. Many employees would love to devote more of their time to help a cause they feel passionately about but fail to fit it in around their work schedules.
Some socially conscious companies such as Patagonia allow their employees to take two months off, with pay, to volunteer with an environmental organisation or project. Obviously, this isn’t always realistic for smaller companies, but by giving employees a few hours per month to dedicate to charitable causes, not only will your staff benefit, but also the wider community around them.
According to The New Economics Foundation, in the final quarter of 2019, the average Brit was £97 per year worse off than they were at the beginning of 2008. This is a worrying finding, as financial stresses can lead to reduced mental health and wellbeing. While this is distressing enough for the person affected, businesses can also suffer. An employee struggling with the stresses of money troubles are more like to struggle to focus on their work, make mistakes or miss their targets. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs), debt management support and emergency loans are just some of the ways that employers can help their employees during difficult times.