One of the most expensive challenges for businesses is employee absenteeism. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) estimated that 3 percent of an employer’s workforce was absent on any given day. This statistic translates into lost productivity and a financial impact to the bottom line. It also can have an impact on workplace morale when employees have to pick up extra work because their co-workers aren’t in the office.
To minimize the impact, it’s in a company’s best interest to support healthy workplace behaviors. According to Harvard Business Review, Johnson & Johnson estimates that their well-being initiatives have saved the company millions. Not only does it help with absenteeism and the associated expenses, but it can boost engagement by showing employees that the company cares about their well-being.
But organizations don’t have to spend significant dollars to get these benefits. Here are seven low-cost or no-cost options that organizations can adopt.
1. Provide healthy snacks. This isn’t about telling employees what to eat. Instead, think about those times when the company buys food for meetings or training. As much as we might like pizza and donuts, maybe it’s time to order something healthier.
2. Support workplace programs that promote a healthy lifestyle. One example is Weight Watchers at Work. The company doesn’t have to pay for the program, but if employees want it, allow them to use company space. And maybe look for ways to recognize employees who meet their program goals.
3. Allow employees to stretch and walk around. Some companies have adopted walking meetings that enable employees to get out of the office. The benefits include increased creativity, better communication and more productivity. Maybe it will breathe some fresh air into a stuffy staff meeting.
4. Add communal exercise equipment. Some organizations are adding treadmill desks and stationary bike desks for employees to use during the workday. These pieces of equipment aren’t designed for an employee to use all day, but rather a place to get 20-30 minutes of light activity.
5. Encourage ergonomics and proper posture. An uncomfortable seating arrangement can lead to neck aches, back problems and other health issues. For employees to do their best work, they need to have chairs that provide proper posture and desks at the correct height for their computer equipment.
6. Design office space with natural light. When employees have access to natural light, it improves health – leading to gains in productivity, according to research from Cornell. And if windows aren’t an option, consider natural light lamps for office spaces.
7. Occasionally allow employees to work from home. Sometimes employees have a cold or other minor illness that doesn’t require them to take a sick day. Even if your company doesn’t want to develop a telework policy, the last thing you want is for a sick employee to spread their germs around the office. When employees are feeling a little under the weather, consider letting them work from home.
You should encourage healthy behaviors to help your employees do a better job of staying well. It benefits employees because they can stay focused on their jobs and use their time off for better things than nursing a cold.
It also helps your organization stay productive, take care of clients and meet goals. A few small initiatives can lead to huge gains in the workplace.
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