If you ever find yourself questioning whether or not you should care about the health and wellness of your employees, the answer is abso-freaking-lutely. A healthy workforce comes with many benefits. Healthy employees have fewer absences, recover from illnesses quickly, and are motivated to work harder. All of these benefits add up to substantial savings for your company. But how does one go about promoting health in the workplace without sounding like a broken record — or worse, being condescending?
Take Exercise Breaks
While watching the documentary “The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness,” I was fascinated to see busy Japanese animators stopping their work to do aerobics together. As it turns out, this is a common practice in Japan — many Japanese companies allow workers to engage in on-the-job calisthenics programs during work hours.
Japanese corporations are definitely on to something. A Stockholm University study found that workers who exercised for 30-60 minutes during their lunch break reported an average performance boost of 15 percent. A further 60 percent of employees saw improvement in their time management skills, mental performance, and ability to meet deadlines on the days they exercised.
If you have both the space and funds, a dedicated gym or yoga room is a fantastic way to encourage employees to exercise throughout the day. If you’re looking for something a little more affordable, consider allocating 10 minutes each day for employees to stop working and do a series of desk workouts together.
If all of this is a bit too much right out of the gate, start with the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes your employees are looking at a computer screen, they need to take a break and focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. This will help prevent digital eye strain and give them a bit of a brain break.
Have Snack Days
It’s no secret that office workers love to snack. However, when left to their own devices, the temptation of candy and energy drinks can be hard to overcome. To keep snacking habits as nutritious as possible, develop a program where each employee brings in healthy snacks once a month for their team/department. Not only will it steer their focus toward nutrition, it will also keep them well fed and productive.
Bring Your Dog To Work
The bond between humans and dogs is a strong one. Many of us love our dogs as much as we love our children, and this connection can actually benefit companies. A 2012 study reported decreased hormonal stress levels in individuals who brought their dogs to work. Employees who did not bring their dog to work showed a steady increase in their stress levels throughout the day.
Beyond the mental health benefits, employees who can bring their dogs to the office tend to work longer hours and have fewer absences. Without the worry of rushing home to let the dog out, they can focus more on their work. If you’re interested in letting your employees introduce their pups to the office, take time to develop a comprehensive pet policy that covers you, the employee, and the dog.
Create A Nap Space
Sleeping on the job is no longer a sign of laziness — instead, it’s a fantastic way to boost employee productivity! Allowing your employees to take 15 minute coffee naps can help them beat the mid-afternoon slump, increase their productivity, and enhance their well-being. Furthermore, making napping a part of your culture sends the message that naps are a company approved approach to better performance.
You’ll need to create a space that encourages the body to shut down. Build a room specifically for napping that is quiet and as far away from noisy workspaces as possible. Couches, recliners, bean bags, floor pillows, hammocks, cots, or sleep pods can all provide a spot for employees to drift off. Keep the room dark and cool, and invite workers to bring their own blankets and pillows to cozy up with.
Get Some Fresh Air
Fresh air and vitamin D are essential to a healthy body, yet too many office workers are trapped inside all day long. Fortunately, there are lots of ways to get employees outside where the benefits of nature can reinvigorate them.
When the weather is nice, consider holding meetings outdoors. Better yet, do walking meetings. This allows your employees to get exercise while still working! Speaking of walking, start a walking club to keep people moving. Find a route that takes 15 minutes and do a circuit with club members each day.
Offer blankets, baskets, and tables for employees to use for picnic lunches. They’ll be able to eat away from their desk, connect with coworkers, and come back to the job refreshed and ready to be productive.
It’s not hard to keep your employees healthy — in fact, it can be downright fun. As long as you’re willing to think outside the box and dedicate a little space for exercise, dogs, and napping, you’ll find the small amount of time lost is more than made up for in productivity and efficiency. Healthy employees are happy employees, and happy employees are better, more loyal workers.