Promote employee health in the workplace

Friday, October 18, 2013

Promote employee health in the workplace

It is truly no surprise that workers who are physically and mentally healthy have better attendance rates and are more enthusiastic and productive than employees who are not. Employees who do not look after their health often perform poorly than their colleagues and prolonged ill-health leading to absence can have a negative effect on a team’s morale and overall performance. It is, therefore, essential that businesses ensure that they are providing a working environment that helps to maintain a healthy workforce.

Image credit: kurhan / 123RF Stock Photo

Benefits of a healthy workforce

A well-managed health and safety policy has many benefits within a company that go beyond individual employee performance. A company that looks after its employees can develop a reputation for being a positive and caring organization; this can increase worker trust and loyalty. 

Reduced staff turnover means that less money is spent on recruitment and training, and more can be invested in improving and expanding the business.

Healthy workers are less likely to commit serious errors or have accidents in the workplace. This reduces the risk of fines and litigation, both of which can be extremely costly to business.

When people within a group are fit and healthy, team morale is increased. This creates a sense of well-being within the company, increases job satisfaction and reduces stress - all of which help to improve the performance of a business.

Having a healthy workforce creates a very positive effect - healthier employees become happier workers, they perform well, experience greater job satisfaction and bond well with co-workers.

Promoting employee health in the workplace

There are many ways to promote employee health. Providing health care for employees is an important first step. In addition to private medical insurance, companies that also offer a private GP service and a dentist help employees to stay healthy. Also, using a surgery close to the office reduces the need for employees to take time off to see a medical professional.

Providing some exercise equipment and leisure activities in rest areas is a terrific way to encourage health. Participating in inter-company team sporting events encourages staff to be active, and also acts as a good team building exercise.

Providing a healthy cafeteria menu is important. Many people do not have time to prepare healthy meals, and many of the shops that cater for business lunches sell processed foods that are not perfect.

One more controversial approach to encourage good health is employee drug testing. It is becoming far more prevalent, and some real positive results have been seen. Companies that have started drug testing of workers have experienced a reduction in absenteeism by up to 50 percent. 

Google’s healthy workers

One telling example of a business that considers the health of its employees is Google. They provide their staff with private health insurance and retirement plans, provide free healthy food, free gyms and games rooms, and encourage staff to relax and feel at ease in the workplace. Google tells its employees: “Our hope is that, ultimately, you become a better person by working here.”

Does it work? Well, in 15 years Google has grown from a small Internet start-up to one of the largest technology companies in the world. Google's greatest asset is its employees, and they are supremely pleased to work at Google. In fact, many prefer to stay at the office than at home.

While Google may seem to have a relaxed attitude, they do take a hard line on drug abuse. If a manager suspects that an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol, they can request the employee to take a test.

Substance abuse, including alcohol abuse, is a big problem for business today. Drug testing has been shown to be a strong deterrent, and ultimately helps to improve the health of all employees. 

Author: A Claire

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