Five Top Tips for a Healthier, Happier Workforce in 2015

If you're the owner or manager of a small to medium sized business, your New Year's resolution for 2015 should be the cultivation of a healthier and happier workforce. Employee well-being is better for workers, better for you, and better for the bottom line. Last year, the average number of sick days taken per employee in the UK was 7.6. That's more than a working week, costing businesses an average of £595 ($926 in U.S. dollars) per employee per year.

With our Five Top Tips for a Healthier, Happier Workforce, you can cut down on absences and cut down the cost. In addition, you'll create a better working environment and motivated employees doing better work as a result.

1. Think About Stress
Work-related stress is the hot topic in the health and safety industry this year. In 2013/14, stress, depression, and anxiety accounted for almost half of all UK work-related illnesses. But despite the significance of work-related stress, it remains one of the most overlooked and misunderstood issues facing businesses today.

So how do we meet it head on? We can start by placing more emphasis on the quality of work than the quantity, and we can be more vigilant for the signs of stress so we can combat them early and deal with them constructively.

With stress becoming such a valid concern, it pays to factor the problem into risk assessments. The Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register is a massive database of experienced and accredited UK health and safety consultants, many of whom deal specifically with stress.

2. Build a Healthy Office
Healthy, happy workers will thrive in a healthy, happy office, so set the tone for your employees by creating a better environment for them to do their thing. There are plenty of ways to improve the health of your office, and the majority are extremely cost effective. One great idea is to provide fruit and healthy snacks on a weekly basis so employees can get the vitamins and minerals they need and can avoid the temptation to raid vending machines for sugary snacks. Hydration is also important, and clean, drinking water is a no-brainer. Plus, everybody knows that water coolers are great places to de-stress with five minutes of idle chat.

Other things to consider include temperature and light. Natural sunlight is a source of vitamin D, while an office that’s too hot or too cold is bad for productivity.

3. Add to Your Employee Benefits
Your workers are important to you: The business wouldn't function without them. So why not show them that you appreciate them and give them greater motivation for doing a good job with employee benefits? There are a wide variety of employee benefits, and they're the simplest and best way to improve the well-being of your workforce. You could offer gym memberships as part of your company benefits package and encourage staff to live a healthy, active lifestyle, but bear in mind that many workers aren't going to want to go to the gym and won't appreciate being preached at about their lifestyle to begin with. Another idea is to offer a Corporate Health Cash Plan, which will allow workers to claim back cash on the cost of a wide variety of treatments and medical expenses, including dental and optical tests, health screenings, hospital visits, prescriptions and well-being therapies, up to generous policy limits.

4. Communicate
Often, the best way to ensure that your employees have everything they need is to simply ask them. The benefits of doing so are two-fold. First of all, you'll be getting the information you need on how to manage your workplace. Secondly, communication in itself is one of the most effective ways to boost morale. Many disgruntled employees can feel like they don't matter to management, nor do their opinions. But if you talk to your employees on a regular basis, you can demonstrate that this is not the case and you’ll improve your working environment by doing so. It's important to hold regular forums and performance appraisals to reward staff for their commitment and their good work.

Another great idea is to conduct back-to-work interviews with individuals who have recently been absent. All it takes is a quick conversation, and you'll discover larger problems that you'll need to address in order to reduce the number of absences in the future. You could also formalize these proceedings and keep records of staff well-being to create a larger picture of your company's situation over time.

5. Don't Forget About You
One of the biggest mistakes made by the small to medium-sized business owner is a failure to consider their own health and well-being along the way. Getting enough time off is essential, even though some find this more stressful than working because they have to trust their project to somebody else while they're away.

Learn to delegate work and give up control of the right parts of the organization to other people. Share responsibility with trusted individuals, and you'll improve your own mindset, which can be particularly influential on the rest of the company.

As we head into the new year, forget about dusting off the same old, tired resolutions you try every year and do something more valuable with your time and energy. In 2015, work a little at making your company a better place to be. It will quickly make the company better overall.

Terry Banks (TBanks@hitsearchlimited.com) is a Content Executive with Hit Search Limited in London, England. He works with the Occupational Safety and Health Consultants Register, which is a register of consultants who advise UK businesses to help them manage health and safety risks.

Posted by Terry Banks on Dec 29, 2014


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