How Can Workplace Wellness Be Improved?
Start With Healthy Balance
There’s a lot of research showing that healthier employees are a benefit to organizations. They are more productive, less likely to miss work or be involved in accidents, less likely to file workers’ comp claims, and more likely to stay with the company. Beyond productivity, we look at our employees as human beings, not just numbers or drones. We genuinely care about their well-being and want them to be and stay healthy.
Many HR professionals I’ve spoken with don’t have a big budget to invest in some of the larger and more complex wellness programs. So they are always on the lookout for some simpler tips to improve employees’ wellness at work.
If I had one main tip, something that encapsulates the rest, it would be this: Balance.
On our website, we describe ourselves this way:
“If you ask us to describe HSI in a few words it’s balance. We are a dedicated group of professionals and once our work is done we like to play a little. We have a family-friendly company and support the need for flexibility.”
We believe work-life balance contributes to the overall wellness of our employees. Our products and our market demand that we are consistently creative and productive on a daily basis. I really do feel that we are able to work hard—and work well—because we balance the demands of our jobs with our physical and mental health through the way we structure our workplace.
I’m not going to claim we are the gold standard for companies looking for wellness programs. I will share my tips for employee wellness, with the idea that you can try them in your own office. I’ll even point you to some of the HSI content that can help get you there!
The three areas to start with are physical space, physical health, and mental health.
This is a big part of employee wellness, but one that is all-too-often overlooked.
We recently moved our offices into a brand new space that will give us the flexibility to continue growing. The new office building is part of a larger campus with many amenities we found appealing for our team. For example:
Standing Desks. As part of the move, we purchased standing desks for everyone. Standing desks encourage employees to keep a better posture and prevent them from sitting too long in one position. They decrease back pain and increase energy levels.
Have you heard the phrase “Sitting is the new smoking?”! Ok, so I just raised my desk and I am now standing. You should too! (For more on the benefits of standing desks, see this healthline article.)
Of course, it might not be in the budget to buy everyone in the office a fancy new desk. You could encourage everyone to take a brief walk every hour. Get up, stretch and move around. Maybe use the restroom on a different floor. (I’ve heard a lot of men do that anyway!) Or conduct your short update meetings while standing.
You can also educate your employees on the basics of ergonomics to get some of the same benefits. For example, our video series on ergonomics explains many of the basics for your chair and office space and includes topics like how to avoid eye strain and ideas for stretching during the workday.
The “Quiet Zone.” We designed our new offices to have a dedicated quiet zone, complete with comfortable couches and additional workstations with a window view. This is a great way to give employees a literal change of scenery if needed, or just a quiet place to collect their thoughts.
The idea of a quiet space is just one of the ideas in our video series “Work Hacks.” The series also covers some neat life hacks for maintaining a clean and comfortable workspace, controlling your inbox, and general workplace sanity. Incorporating this into your training can help your employees be more productive and sane at work.
While a good workspace is a big part of keeping employees healthy and happy, they also need to be empowered to take their own physical health seriously. We do this by providing:
A New Fitness Center. Our new digs feature a 6,000-sq.-ft. fitness center with cardio and weight equipment. Now we have one less excuse for exercising during the work day!
Again, I realize that not every organization has space or the budget to put in their own fitness center. You might research local gyms to see if they will offer a corporate rate. I also recommend checking out “Deskercises”—simple exercises that you and your employees can do at your desks. We even offer a five-course series that teaches various deskercises, from cardio stretching and lighter exercises to full-on cardio. They cover all the major muscle groups and really are a neat way to stay fit in the workplace!
Healthy Snacks. In our new place, we have a cafeteria on campus. Employees walk over, enjoy the fresh air, a little activity, and the healthier food options. We are also fortunate to be able to offer our employees a variety of workplace snacks, including things like smart popcorn, apples, and raw almonds. These are much healthier options compared to the usual processed corn chips and breakfast biscuits.
If your office doesn’t supply snacks, you can still encourage employees to eat healthier. I recommend our series “You are What You Eat” to encourage better food choices. The series covers reading food labels, explains “brain food,” and provides meal-planning tips.
Finally, every workplace should be concerned about employee mental health. This isn’t just about managers being nicer or offering mental health screenings on campus (although those are good ideas too). When employees struggle with communications, they internalize stress, and work-life balance becomes unbalanced. And so mental health is also about reducing workplace stress overall through healthy communications and clear expectations. For example, we practice this through:
Company-Wide Meetings and Communications. We hold two all-employee meetings a year, one in the St. Louis office and one in our Kansas City office. This gives all of our employees an opportunity to travel to the other office, have meetings, and enjoy some team-building and fun. It’s a great bonding experience, and it helps employees feel like they are part of something bigger.
Outside of those meetings, the leadership team publishes monthly update videos in an effort to keep everyone informed about the business. We believe that when people feel informed and included, open communication can help relieve work stress.
For more ideas on healthy communications, you might want to check out some of our many courses on communications skills: Healthy Communications, Assertive Verbal Skills, and Nonverbal Communications are a few of the series your employees may find helpful.
Free Access to Our Training Material. We practice what we preach! All of our employees have free, unlimited access to our courses, including all the ones I mentioned above. Because they can access these anytime, anywhere, they can engage in self-directed learning, at their own pace, focusing on the areas of their life that they personally want to change.
Updated Policies and Current Topics. We try our best to be up to date, both with best practices for HR policies and timely topics that matter to the modern employee. If you have not revisited your standing policies for a while, it might be time to revisit them!
For example, do you have a sufficient Family Leave and/or Parental Leave policy? Do your employees know how to plan for this kind of leave? Do they know about opioid addiction?
How Is It Working Out for Us?
It’s the nature of our industry: There’s an aggressive workload, and we have high expectations for our employees to meet their deadlines and goals. In exchange, we work to create a casual, enjoyable office environment with work-life balance.
We need that environment to support creativity, not hinder it. That means doing more than pushing people—it means inspiring them.
As one employee put it, HSI is anything but “the standard corporate taupe.”
Hopefully, some of my ideas and tips for employee wellness have inspired you to do a little better and work toward getting the best out of your employees.
- View health and wellness courses here
- How to Stop Feeling Overwhelmed at Work: Understand Stress and Burnout
- Mental Wellness Tips for Your Employees