These days, workplace wellness is a huge thing. People are tuned in to the fact that the work environment is a very important part of the mental and physical well-being of workers. A person’s work environment and the experience they have at the workplace not only impacts their experience at work but can also extend to their life when they are not at the workplace. The more stress a person experiences at work, the less productive that person is likely to be both at work and in their private lives.
It is a cycle because happy workers are more productive and unhappy workers are less productive; and happiness travels from work to home and from home to work. If the work environment is not healthy, workers are more likely to fall into negative patterns such as absenteeism and low productivity, among other vices, and this can spread to their private lives. That is the reason many companies have implemented workplace health programs into their business models, and why it is in the interest of business owners to promote wellness programs and policies that encourage workplace wellness.
According to the Center for Disease Control, workplace health include “programs, policies, benefits, environmental supports, and links to the surrounding community designed to encourage the health and safety of all employees.”
In this article we will look at seven ways small business owners can improve workplace wellness for their staff.
1. Create an employee wellness program
Small business owners should create and implement a wellness program that is specifically tailored to their company and employees. Even though most workplaces share commonalities, there is no one size fits all rule. Each company has its own specific culture. So, the benefits that its employees will find useful could vary. The idea is to promote workers’ physical and mental health, no matter the company culture. To be effective, this program must take many factors into consideration and should be accessible to all employees.
According to Hubspot “Employee wellness programs offer a variety of benefits that are designed to improve the physical and mental health of workers. Common features include fitness reimbursements, support for family planning and caretaking, and mental health offerings.”
2. Make the work environment clean, user friendly and bright (consider lighting and paint)
Small business owners should not underestimate simple things like paint and light bulbs. Paint and light bulbs matter, a lot. Workers are affected by their environment and unless the nature of the work calls for a dark environment, it is usually better to offer a bright environment with clean, clear walls than to have a dull or dark environment with dark, dull paint. This is especially true in winter when some workers can experience seasonal depression. Lighting really matters for people with seasonal depression.
Beside paint and lighting, other things like clutter could have an impact on the mental well-being of some workers. Make sure the environment has as little visual pollution as possible. A cluttered, messy office suggests an unhealthy workplace culture which is not good for anybody.
3. Fit the right employees with the right positions and teams
Hiring itself matters, and placement too. Small business owners must be careful to fit the right people in the right positions and with the right teams. There is no point hiring someone who you know is not qualified or who will not fit with the existing team. It will not be good for the worker or the company, and will only lead to conflicts and stress over time.
4. Assess Regularly
Small business owners must assess their workers regularly to see if their programs are working. They can do this by polling their workers and doing surveys to see which benefits and workers find useful. They can also simply observe their workers to see how they are doing. It is okay to ask an employee “is everything alright? What can make your work easier?” It is okay to ask for ideas from your employees about what environmental supports they need.
5. Provide benefits such as food and fitness vouchers
Small business owners should encourage their workers to prioritize fitness and healthy eating. If possible, offer exercise options on site, such as a dedicated gym, yoga classes and clubs. Employees should be encouraged to exercise together during lunch time, or even after work. People need to move as much as possible and not sit at a desk for eight hours nonstop. Small business owners should offer to pay for gym memberships for the workers if the budget allows. They should give their workers vouchers to buy food, fruits and vegetables, if possible. Healthy workers are less likely to be absent from work as often as workers with health problems. Healthy workers are also more productive. So it is in the best interest of small business owners to promote the health of their workers.
6. Encourage vacation and holiday time outs by organizing company trips
Workers need time off from the work environment to avoid burn out. In some companies, not taking holidays and days off is seen as a plus. But very often, this only leads to burn out. Workers should be encouraged to take vacations and days off. The small business owner could even offer opportunities for employees to take group trips abroad together, at a discount where possible. This encourages bonding and cohesion amongst the group which is a good thing for the company in the long run.
7. Offer flexibility for remote vs in office work days
Small business owners that offer flexibility to their workers will have happier employees. So, offer workers the opportunity to work remotely at least one day per week. Studies show that most employees appreciate the opportunity to work remotely at least one or two days per week. This does wonder for the mental health and sense of well-being.
To conclude, workplace wellness is important and small business owners will do their business a favor by doing everything possible to have happy, productive and “well” employees. Of course, business owners cannot do this alone. The workers themselves are also part of the experience and the workers share personal responsibilities in helping to create a healthy environment for themselves and others in the workplace. If each employee works along with the business owner to meet his or her own personal responsibility, the collective outcome will be better for everyone.