Looking after the health of your employees is good for business

Creating a fit-for-purpose workplace

According to recent research, one in four women and one in five men in England are defined as inactive, doing less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity each week. The cost of an unhealthy workforce to the UK taxpayer has been estimated at over £60 billion per year.

In Jersey, we’re in better shape. The last official Opinions and Lifestyle Survey tells us that half (52%) of adults reported an activity level which met or exceeded the ‘30 minutes’ recommended level.

But we can obviously still do better. Employers have a responsibility to provide safe workplaces that do not damage an employee’s health and environments that support healthier lifestyle choices.

A healthier workforce can be more productive, take less time off sick and stay in employment for longer. Greater physical activity, healthy eating and achieving a healthier weight are critical strands of wellbeing and a contributing factor for a healthier and more productive workforce.

Employers should think about supporting the health and well-being of their staff as part of their health and safety duties, not least because healthy employees drive a healthy business. Good physical health is also closely linked to good mental health. Initiatives designed to encourage physical activity and healthy eating should focus on mental health as well as physical health.

Working in partnership with employees, employers can take a positive, proactive, preventative approach to support weight management and encourage greater physical activity.

Encourage your staff to move

Offer opportunities, such as car-sharing or a cycle-to-work day, or hold outdoor meetings which involve a walk, or encourage staff to have lunch away from their desks. Offering flexible working hours can enable staff to exercise before and after work. It is important to have line managers on board when implementing, in order to encourage others to get moving and lead by example.

Support healthy eating

A well-balanced diet helps us to stay healthy and perform well at work. We are all more likely to change our habits if we are aware of the benefits. Conduct a questionnaire on what staff want and tailor a plan around this. If you offer food or drink in the office, such as through vending machines or a canteen, ensure there are healthy options available at all times, such as water or fruit delivered to the office for people to eat as a healthy alternative.

Create a clean workspace

Generally, people work better when they are less cluttered. Ensure staff have the work space they need, with monitors at the correct height and a supportive comfortable chair. Employees should be able to adjust their own chairs, monitor (brightness/font size). This should be checked when you carry out workstation assessments. Encourage hot desking and bring people together who may not normally work with one another. This can encourage new ideas, ways of working and help people feel more positive.

Create a mentally healthy office

It is imperative to look after your employees’ mental as well as physical health. For more information, why not read our previous blog here or contact us to find out more about mental health in the workplace courses we run.

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