6 Smaller Workplace Adjustments That Enhance Employee Health
Chronic diseases, depression, and musculoskeletal disorders are among the leading health conditions that hurt American employers’ bottom line. These physical and mental ailments cost employers money in the form of direct medical costs, hiring expenses, and lost productivity.
With most workers spending more than one-third of their day on the job, businesses have a unique opportunity — and responsibility — to provide a healthy environment for their employees. The workplace should enhance health, not decrease it.
That said, there are countless ways you can adjust the workplace to easily improve employees’ wellbeing and performance.
1. Improve Ventilation
Aerosolized COVID-19, volatile organic compounds, and other harmful elements can quickly contaminate indoor environments and impact air quality. Without proper ventilation, employees will continue to breathe this stale, polluted air and suffer a wide variety of ailments because of it.
Thus, one of the best ways to enhance employee health is to improve air circulation and ventilation. Of course, replacing the entire system or opening outdoor air intakes is the best way to purify the air. However, opening windows and doors to increase oxygen levels and improve air quality may be a more practical and cost-effective solution.
2. Purify With Plants
Houseplants are all the rage these days and for good reason. In addition to being pleasant to look at, plants can improve mood, enhance sleep, increase productivity and even purify the air. Research has also found that soil microorganisms in potted plants play a part in scrubbing indoor air of harmful toxins.
So, if you haven’t hopped on the plant train yet, now’s the perfect time to do so. Encourage employees to add a few plants to their desks and place some in the break room for everyone to enjoy. Succulent walls, small trees, and other natural decor can also energize your workspace and improve employee health in major ways.
3. Prioritize Noise Reduction
Many workers spend the better part of the day in a loud work environment like a construction site, factory, or work van. Prolonged exposure to excessive noise can make employees feel anxious, distracted, and unproductive at work. In more serious instances, high-decibel clamor can cause cardiovascular disease, cognitive impairment, tinnitus, hearing loss, and other debilitating health issues.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to minimize noise pollution and enhance employee health. For instance, if a driver complains of cabin noise in the work van, composite partitions or shelf bottoms can help reduce the rattling. Earplugs or noise-canceling headphones may also protect workers from high-decibel sounds in factories and construction sites.
4. Offer Workshops
Sedentary jobs make up more than 80% of the U.S. market, which means most Americans are more susceptible to inactivity and subsequent weight gain. They’re also more likely to suffer from health issues like back pain as a result of poor posture. After all, humans weren’t meant to sit for eight hours a day, so there were bound to be consequences.
Offering mindful movement workshops during employees’ lunch breaks can reverse some of the damage. Organize yoga classes, meditation workshops, midday breath retreats, and other health-oriented courses for employees to engage in midday. Of course, these breaktime events should be free, inclusive, and accessible to everyone so each employee has the opportunity to enhance their health.
5. Provide Showers
If your office is located downtown and your team consists of young employees, installing showers in the restrooms might be a great idea. That’s because more young professionals are biking to work — and showing up sweaty. While they might only experience mild discomfort, providing a place to quickly rinse off before work is an excellent way to help them maintain a health-conscious commute.
Those who attend a fitness class or workshop during their break may also prefer to shower before returning to work. Thus, having one or two in each restroom may incentivize more employees to incorporate a midday workout into their routine.
6. Supply Snacks
Obesity in the workplace can have a significant impact on productivity, especially in construction, arts, and hospitality occupations. Employees in these industries may work slower or suffer injuries due to excess weight. As their employer, you can encourage healthy eating — and mitigate risks — by supplying healthy snacks.
Get rid of the old vending machine full of candy bars, chips, and various other junk foods and replace it with fresh produce. Leave a basket of fruit on the breakroom table and a veggie tray in the fridge. Remember to snatch that bowl of candy off the receptionist’s desk, too. While these ideas may seem simple, they’ll make a big difference overall and aid employees on their journey toward health.
Making Health a Priority
Employee health should be a top priority for businesses that value their workers and the success of their company as a whole. However, it’s important to take a holistic approach by addressing mind, body, and spirit. Use the ideas above as a launchpad for future initiatives like health insurance, free therapy, and other benefits. These larger workplace adjustments will help you create a comprehensive plan to further incentivize health both in and out of the office.