Many businesses spend a lot of money on wellness programs for their team. An Employee Benefit Advisor report shared that, in some companies, these could cost up to $1,200 per employee annually.
But employee-oriented health strategies don’t need to be complicated and expensive. Here are four more surprising ways businesses can nurture their team’s well-being:
1. Make Stairs Accessible and Safe
Stairs can help fight obesity and a sedentary lifestyle because they help users burn calories. A person climbing up and down a flight with twenty steps may already consume 20 calories. While it’s not much, they still add up over time.
This physical activity also exercises the joints and muscles, especially the calves. They, therefore, help improve flexibility and mobility, which is ideal for aging workers.
But why are fewer people using them? First, they’re no longer as accessible as before. Often, they’re relegated as substitutes to elevators and escalators when they don’t work.
Second, some view stairs to be less safe than other modes of accessibility in the building. Lastly, they’ve been getting bad reps. For example, many associate them with inconvenience.
Companies may encourage employees to use the stairs more frequently with smart design. They can make it the central aesthetic piece in a building. If the staircase has many flights, they can add landings where users can rest and relax.
To promote safety, businesses can work with metal railings manufacturers. They can combine these railings with fiberglass for more visual appeal.
2. Improve Ventilation
The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the importance of having an excellent ventilation system, especially when more people are using the same space.
In a study published by the CDC, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and the local governments formed a response team to investigate an infection cluster in building X.
Of the more than 1,000 people they tested for the virus, over 95 were confirmed cases. However, the majority worked in a call center on the eleventh floor with at least 200 employees. The attack rate for this cluster alone was therefore high at 43.5%.
Improving ventilation may also help decrease the risk of sick building syndrome. Although it remains an unofficial diagnosis, many business owners consider it as one of the leading causes of absences. Absenteeism results in around $225 billion losses due to poor productivity.
How can offices improve their ventilation? The CDC has already released the guidelines. These are beneficial even when the pandemic is already over as they’re likely to prevent other infections like flu from spreading.
3. Decorate the Space with Plants
For some time, offices embraced a more minimalist approach to space design. Having too many items on the desk may only distract the concentration of employees, they believe.
A study, though, revealed that a lean office may only create a toxic workspace and that the treatment is adding plants. In a UK study, the researchers visited an office in their country and in the Netherlands to determine how plants impact office performance.
When they incorporated greens in Spartan offices—there’s one per square meter—employees’ scores on memory retention and other skills improved. They also found the workers to be more engaged and happier.
How can plants generate such a response? According to the American Society for Horticultural Science, greenery can help reduce stress and work fatigue.
One common theory called attention restoration also states that seeing and being with nature can reduce mental fatigue by decreasing directed attention fatigue, which is what one feels when they’re looking at screens for prolonged periods.
4. Encourage Employees to Rest
The Americans are some of the busiest people in the world. Compared to workers of other developed nations. In one report, over 85% of men and at least 65% of women work for more than 40 hours a week.
The International Labor Organization also shared that US employees are in the office for at least 250 hours longer than their British counterparts.
During the pandemic, American employees worked even longer. According to Statista, the average working week on January 2020 was 34.3, but it climbed to 35 by the following year.
The long work hours, inability to achieve work-life balance, and heavy workload, among others, can lead to stress and burnout. Both can increase the likelihood of disengagement among employees.
Overworked, tired, and stressed workers often underperform or call in sick. They are also the likely ones to leave, increasing the business’s attrition rate.
The solution is simple: encourage workers to rest. Discourage overtime work on the weekends and strive to respect working hours. Companies can also offer flexible schedules, which more businesses are now doing.
Nurturing a worker’s health is a desirable decision. After all, the workforce remains the lifeblood of any company. But businesses can also explore other surprising ways to motivate better well-being without excessive spending and with more long-term positive outcomes.