While you should be committed to employee wellness all year, it’s especially important to promote a healthy workplace in the winter.
Shorter days and colder weather lend themselves to more sedentary behavior. And sitting for longer periods of time has a direct correlation to increased health risks. In addition, fewer daylight hours can impact the emotional and mental health of your employees.
To keep employee absenteeism low and productivity high this winter, check out these three simple ways to improve the wellbeing of your workforce.
Employee Wellness: 3 Quick Tips
1. Host Walking Meetings
The average professional spends 21 percent of their work week in meetings. This makes meetings the perfect opportunity to get your employees’ blood pumping.
Instead of plopping down in conference room chairs, have employees walk around the office to discuss the meeting agenda. Even a few minutes of exercise can improve employee wellness by reducing the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Walking also stimulates blood flow, which improves cerebrovascular health. Being more physically active in meetings encourages engagement in general, helping employees feel more motivated and involved.
If walking meetings aren’t an option, you should at least try stand-up meetings. The benefits aren’t as considerable as a stroll through the workplace, but stand-up meetings are definitely an improvement over meetings where everyone is seated.
2. Let the Light In
Nothing dampens your employees’ spirits more than driving to work when the sun is still rising, sitting under the harsh glare of fluorescent lights all day and leaving as the sun sets.
Opening the blinds to let in more natural light can work wonders to boost employees’ spirits and their productivity.
In its report, The Future Workplace: Smart Office Design in the IoT Era, smart building research firm Memoori surveyed commercial real estate users and found natural light was the most effective way to improve concentration—even more so than LED lights.
However, a smart LED lighting system is certainly a worthwhile investment and a good long-term solution to consider, especially if your office has few windows. These intelligent lighting systems automatically adjust light levels based on the time of day.
Creating a light schedule that more closely resembles the patterns of natural light can improve mood and increase alertness. It can potentially even help employees sleep better, since the lighting more closely mirrors natural circadian rhythms.
3. Keep Sickness From Spreading Around The Office
Each year, the average workplace loses $1,685 of productivity per employee due to missed work from illness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While everyone gets sick from time to time, today’s more open office environments put employees in closer proximity to each other, which can cause more germs to spread.
Workplace leaders can take several steps to keep illnesses from spreading, such as:
- Reminding employees to use sick days when they are sick—and not allowing them to “bank” them over as extra personal time
- Encourage employees to work at home more often when possible (especially when they’re fighting a cold)
- Keeping plenty of tissues, hand soap, sanitizer and wipes on hand
Employees might think they’re doing you a favor by coming to work sick, but the reality is they’re going to be less productive, take longer to recover and potentially get others sick, too.
Making Employee Wellness A Year-Round Priority
The cost of employee turnover can be substantial—as much as 150 percent of that employee’s annual salary, depending on their position.
Healthy employees are more likely to be happy employees—which is why employee wellness should be a top priority.
Promoting employee wellness involves more than providing health insurance coverage options (although that’s certainly important).
It’s helping employees manage their workload so they experience less stress and a better work-life balance. It’s offering employee health incentives, amenities like fresh fruit and discounted gym memberships.
Ultimately, employee wellness comes down to creating a workplace culture that rewards employees for accomplishments rather than attendance. That way employees won’t feel pressured to “be a hero” and come in sick when they’re actually doing more harm.