When you are an employer you want to help your employees work smarter and harder. One way to do this is to help your employees to stay healthy. The idea that you can make the work place a healthier environment for your employees may not occur to many employers, but is nevertheless an important aspect of any type of business. Sick employees take extended leaves of absence and may be less productive on the job when recovering from a major illness.
Tip Number 1: Be accomodating for employees who need to take time off from work to go to a doctor’s visits or to get a vaccination. President Obama recently urged employers to be flexible and non-punitive when it comes to helping people get the swine vaccination if they need it. However, this is a great piece of advice for other health care needs, such as just getting the seasonal flu vaccine to an employee who needs to get a Pap smear or annual health examination. This is because prevention saves both time and money, and can help an employee stay healthier longer.
If an employee can get smoking cessation therapy or get help with their blood pressure early on in life, then they are much more likely to liver longer productive lives. And healthier employees don’t have to worry about working into their daily routine the need to take multiple medications.
Tip Number 2: Eliminate work place stress as much as possible. Of course work is always going to be stressful, otherwise it wouldn’t be called work, but many employees are “working wounded” who are suffering under abusive bosses, and often this added abuse can decrease their productivity. If there is work place abuse occurring at your office place, then use whatever resources are available for dealing with an abusive supervisor, up to and including termination. When it comes to work place verbal and emotional abuse, the old saying is true, one bad apple can ruin the whole barrel.
Tip Number 3: Stay compliant with current OSHA standards. This means making sure that your office space is up to safety standards. Items such as fire extinguishers and smoke alarms are not noticed, if missing, until the situation arises when you really need them. Also consider consulting experts in the field of occupational injuries for advice about injuries that are common in your field. For example, if a large number of your employees type for long periods of time, then you might want to consult an expert in using ergonomic office furniture and other changes to reduce the chances that a person may develop a repetitive stress injury or carpal tunnel syndrome, which could necessitate them taking a large amounts of time off from work.
By using such ergonomic aids and assessments when economically feasible, you also communicate to your employee that their health and well being is important to you. It is important that you employee feel that they are part of a team, and that they know that their supervisors want them to be able to do their work in as comfortable a manner as possible.
Tip Number 4: Encourage healthy eating. Obesity and weight gain can make a person feel sluggish and have less energy in addition to make them at risk for a variety of medical disorders such as diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. One way to do this would be to encourage employees to bring in healthy foods when celebrating in the office, or for meetings. If options such as apples and bananas, or salads are available instead of cake and potato chips, you might be surprised at the number of people in your office who would choose to eat the healthier food.
While drinking caffeinated soda can be a great way to stay focused for small periods of time, eventually employees may develop caffeine withdrawal which can result in headaches. Water is a great way to stay hydrated on the job, and providing multiple sources of cooled water, such as from water coolers, helps your employees avoid sugary drinks like sodas.
Tip Number 5: Allow a reasonable number and duration of breaks each day. While many people can work constantly for 8 or more hours a day, often this leads to emotional and psychological fatigue. By giving your employees regular breaks you allow them to have some personal time to recharge their batteries before heading back to work. However, remember that smoking is the number one cause of preventable disease in the United States.
As an employer you can not legally refuse to allow your employees to smoke in designated areas, but you can make sure that they don’t smoke in areas where second hand smoke could be inhaled by other employees, such as in crowded entrance ways. You can also post smoking cessation posters, and make available pamphlets which list resources that people can use to stop smoking, such as physician monitor smoking cessation programs. If one of your employees does stop smoking, and he or she tells you about this, this is a great opportunity to congratulate them on their success.
These are just a few tips for how you as an employer can make your work place an environment which encourages your employees to be at their best, and this includes staying healthy.
Sources: Obama Administration Urges Employer Flexibility in H1N1 Fight http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/19/employers.h1n1/