In the modern era of wellness, the adage ‘health is wealth’ has never been more apt this can certainly be said for the workplace. In 2017, it was recorded that on average, employees take 4.1 sick days a year, which is an almost 50% decrease from 1993. However, within this 14 year period – there have been many economic and social changes which may have resulted in employees taking less time off work. These could include, the increase of a person’s healthy life expectancy and the developments in modern medicine. But also, this could include issues such as workers are less likely to be paid if they take a sick day, so they go to work ill.

With this in mind, no matter your business, it is vital that you look after your employees physical and mental health. This is because, not only can sickness affect workplace productivity, but if you don’t look after your employees, this can also affect the general wellbeing of the workplace and create a poor reflection of your company. So, whether you are starting out a new business, or you are looking for ways to boost the health of your staff, we have collated some top tips below.

Encourage healthy eating

We understand that it can be easy at work to tuck into a large comfort food dish at lunch, or have endless coffee and chocolate on our desks to give a little boost of energy and sustain cravings throughout the day. However, this can snowball to a myriad of health problems, from putting on so much weight that it impacts your cholesterol levels to feeling sluggish, as well as not getting enough vitamins and minerals from your diet. Simply encouraging healthy eating habits at work is a great way to get your employees to eat a range of fruit, vegetables, whole grains and fats. However, this is a delicate line to tread, as you certainly don’t want to come across as patronising.

For large workplaces, there are a range of ways you can encourage healthy eating which can boost your employee’s immune systems and encourage a more positive mindset. One of these is having a subsidised canteen in the workplace that serves diverse, nutritious and colourful meals during breakfast and lunch. This could include vibrant salad bars, home-cooked main meals and freshly made smoothies, ideal for those who, after a long commute or a stressful meeting, want to unwind with something delicious that won’t break the bank.

For smaller workplaces, we understand that money may not be as disposable. Yet, you shouldn’t let your employee’s health fall to the wayside. There are a variety of ways you can also have healthy eating as the norm at work. Simply printing out pamphlets and sharing information about the various nutritional qualities of fruits and vegetables is a great way to get started. Having a filtered water cooler, subsidising reusable metal water bottles and organising a free fruit and vegetable delivery to the office are just a few other ideas that you can implement.

Create a sense of community at work

A personable workplace that encourages better mental health and improves general wellbeing will support your staff’s physical and emotional health needs. This can be done by creating a sense of community within the workplace, as it opens up channels of communication between managers and staff. This will help to facilitate any difficult conversations that need to be had with regards to health battles.

There are many ways your workplace can encourage healthier habits and also create a sense of community. This can include creating work exercise classes like yoga, HIIT, pilates and bootcamps which all members of staff can join in with. Or, why not enter a charity fundraiser together like a 5K run, 60K bike ride or a Zumbathon?

Have scheduled breaks other than lunch

Regular breaks, even if it’s just for a 10-minute dose of fresh air, can do wonders for the workplace. Whether you have been standing up all day for your job, or the majority of your day is spent looking at your phone or computer screen, it is vitally important that you have some time away either sat down or away from the screen.

Ideas for these scheduled breaks could be five to ten minutes of office mindfulness or guided meditation focusing on breathing and refreshing a cluttered mind. Why not have a technology-free zone full of books, magazines, sofas and music? This is ideal for office members who might need a moment to collect their thoughts and rest their strained eyes.

Keep the workplace hygienic

During the winter – aka a melting hotpot of cold’s, flu and viruses – you need to make sure that your workplace is always kept clean and tidy to avoid the spread of disease and illnesses. Simply employing an office cleaner to spritz, hoover and clean the office daily is a great way to keep on top of pesky bugs.

Another way to keep offices hygienic is to promote and encourage personal hygiene amongst your employees. For instance, adding soap dispensers or soap bars next to sinks, providing antibacterial hand gel and surface wipes, and even installing showers in the workplace.

Emphasise a work-life balance

Though it is important to check that your employees are working hard and that productivity targets are being met, you also need to make sure, as an employer, that you are mindful of the work-life balance. Like having a sense of community in the office, simply remembering and encouraging a positive work-life balance will build positive rapport between you and your employees. This can generally help manage stress levels at work, as high-stress environments can be a precursor to a range of mental health problems and can also weaken the immune system.

Keep it a general rule to not email or contact work colleagues out of work hours about work-related issues (unless urgent), and organise plenty of work socials to keep your colleagues feeling chipper at all times.

Duality Health is a private healthcare clinic catering to the people of Newry and Dungannon.