With most Briton’s spending a third of their working lives feeling stressed1, it’s important that companies help to promote health and wellbeing from within. Below are 10 steps that can help to provide an office that is balanced and conducive to good health and wellbeing, which should ultimately benefit the health of your employees and your business.

A health and wellbeing programme is a long-term commitment that shows a business values its employees and cares about their safety, health and overall happiness. Whilst there’s no single process for achieving better workplace wellbeing, there’s a variety of initiatives that can be introduced, and below we have highlighted some creative ideas on how you could promote a healthier office environment in 2016!

1. Green the great indoors!

Making your office a healthier place can be as simple as introducing plants in the office, which can help to increase productivity by absorbing unhealthy toxins from the environment and replacing it with oxygen2.

2. Go ergonomic

In the workplace, ergonomics means adjusting the work environment and work practices to prevent any injuries before they occur; important considering the cost to UK businesses for employee absence and sick days is a staggering £29bn per annum, according to a report by PwC.

Fortunately, there are ways to improve ergonomics in the workplace and contribute to your employees’ wellbeing to potentially minimise the risk of absence. For example, making sure chairs and desks are ergonomically correct, comfortable and with adjustable heights is important to help avoid back and neck pain, or potentially longer-term musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), such as repetitive strain injury.

Our blog on ergonomics explains more about why having good office design can be beneficial to your business.

3. Be proactive about food health

To encourage employees to be healthier at work, make sure vending machines and business meetings are stocked with healthier options, such as water, nuts and fruit. A weekly ‘free fruit box’ delivery could be seen as a perk of the job whilst also encouraging team members to eat healthier.

4. Get connected

Encourage healthier lifestyles by introducing a cycle to work scheme, or build a connection with a local gym to provide an employee gym membership benefit.

5. Keep people moving

Find every opportunity you can to keep employees moving in their daily routines, whether it’s getting up from their chairs once every hour or using the stairs instead of the lifts. You could even be more creative by adding standing workstations for interested employees, or try exercise balls rather than office chairs for staff who sit much of the day, to encourage movement!

Simpler solutions include making sure printers and copiers are further away from work areas, and have ‘email free’ days where employees have to go and speak at each other’s desks, rather than using email to send messages.

6. Make hydration a priority

Too much caffeine can cause dehydration and fatigue, which could affect employee concentration and performance. By installing water coolers around the office, you can encourage employees to stay hydrated. It’s so easy for people to forget to keep hydrated when they’re busy – so place them in key places such as near desks, in meeting rooms, in the kitchen/canteen. You can read our blog on the importance of staying hydrated here.

7. Provide natural light and ventilation

Air, light and other elements around the office environment can be overlooked when designing an office environment or layout. However, factors such as indoor air quality can impact employee concentration, energy level and mood, with poor air quality accounting for an average 9 per cent loss of productivity in the workplace.3

8. Relaxation Zone

Encourage employees to take ten minutes out of each day to relax by creating a ‘relaxation zone’ in a quiet area of the office. This area could feature relaxing music, books, magazines and comfortable furniture providing your employees with a real opportunity to relax.

9. Happiness

As managers, leaders and business owners, there is a duty of care and responsibility to look after the health and wellbeing of your team. Sometimes work can be stressful, which is to be expected, but working in a tense or stressful atmosphere can impact a person’s mental wellbeing and feelings of happiness; therefore, try to keep the environment as positive and cheerful as possible. Happy employees tend to be more productive ones too!

10. Provide the right support

You could team up with health and wellbeing experts, such as dieticians, personal trainers and mental health professionals to offer advice, recipes and information for staff to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

It’s also important to know when to take further action. Being unhappy may be a sign of a deeper issue, such as a personal or family crisis. An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) can help individuals who may be experiencing life’s challenges, and is designed to help organisations meet their duty of care obligations by giving employees access to confidential support, assistance and counselling to help them deal with a range of life events.

Asset from Sovereign Health Care is a comprehensive solution you could offer to your employees to support their health and wellbeing. They can claim money back for a range of everyday health care costs including dental treatment, glasses, contact lenses and physiotherapy. Plus, your employees will have access to an EAP to assist them with issues they may be facing, in their personal life or at work.

1.HR Review http://www.hrreview.co.uk/hr-news/wellbeing-news/britons-stressed-for-over-a-third-of-working-lifetime/54847
2. American Psychological Association http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2014-30837-001/
3. NCBI http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15330777

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