As a small business owner, you have certain duties to your employees. The most obvious one is payment for work completed. Of course, you also have to pay taxes on their behalf, provide them with a safe working environment according to local and national standards, and (for the full timers) provide various benefits related to health insurance and paid time off. But what part should you play in regard to promoting their physical health?
Why You Should Promote Employee Health
Although it is ultimately up to each individual employee what actions he or she takes in order to be healthy, there are certain benefits that you receive when your staff is feeling their physical best. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that an employee’s productivity increases when engaging in healthy behaviors as a result of working for a company that ultimately supports their health.
This means that they use fewer sick days (both for themselves and their families, as they are typically healthier too) and they get more done when they do come in to work because they feel well, both of which offer a financial bonus to the company as a result. Plus, if you are hiring, a health-promoting environment may help you attract better applicants while looking more favorable to the general public, sweetening the effects even more.
Additional benefits of a healthy workplace, as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO) include higher staff morale, lower employee turnover, and reduced insurance costs. These types of advantages extend to the employee too, resulting in them experiencing lower levels of stress, greater job satisfaction, and a higher sense of well-being. How do you make all of these good things happen?
How to Create a Healthy Work Environment
Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada has devised a healthy workplace initiative, which may give you some ideas on where to start. In their initiative, they have recognized three distinct elements of a workplace that is healthy. These are: lifestyle practices, workplace culture, and the physical environment. Let’s look at each one individually.
Lifestyle practices refers to the daily health habits that your employees have that may be helping or hurting their health. So, the question is, as an employer, do you offer your employees the skills or programs they need to support the former? For instance, are you partnered with any health agencies that could help them lose weight or quit smoking, ultimately increasing their health? What about negotiating a discount at your local recreation center or gym so your staff can get in better shape and lower their risk of disease and sickness?
Workplace culture references the values that are present in your company, such as “respect, diversity, quality, and teamwork.” Looking honestly at your business, does it promote this type of integrity-based, supportive environment? If not, what changes would need to occur so that it did? For example, would your employees benefit from attending various trainings designed to address these issues, maximizing their strengths and minimizing their weaknesses? Think diversity training, team building, and other related training programs.
The last element identified by Carleton is physical environment, which essentially covers how safe it is to work at your business. For instance, are there machines that don’t have the proper safety pieces in place, increasing the employee’s risk of having an accident? What about small things like extension cords lying on the floor (a trip hazard) or tools that are past their prime and should be serviced or replaced (like a saw blade that is no longer sharp)? While some of these are regulated by government, are there any additional things you can do to make your workplace safer yet?
By looking honestly at your own business and addressing issues like these, you can help promote employee health and gain all of the benefits that come along with it. If you are currently employee health-conscious, what types of things are you doing? Feel free to share them in the comment section below to help other small business owners who are looking to do the same!
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