12:00 AM, 02 22, 2016

Should you invest in employee health?

It’s around this time of year when we’re all inundated with chocolates and those heartfelt New Year’s Resolutions we made now seem like a distant memory, but is the health of your staff something you should be thinking about?

It might not seem any of your business if your colleagues and employees are more likely to chow down on chips than chia seeds and can be found post work in the pub instead of at Pilates; but as the connection between health and job performance is becoming more widely known, many companies are now realizing success can be achieved much quicker by harnessing the strength of a healthy workforce.

The cost of recruitment in a competitive marketplace can mean that you need to offer the very best benefits to retain your existing staff and attract top talent and this is a technique that has really flourished in the tech environments like Silicon Valley. Businesses like Twitter are offering acupuncture and kung fu lessons, Google provides free dried fruit, on site bikes and coconut water, and at LinkedIn managers are encouraged to conduct walking meetings.

But is there any data to support the idea that healthier staff are more productive?

One of the latest studies was run by the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), based on 20,114 employees over 3 years. The results showed that employees who ate healthfully all day long were 25 percent more likely to have higher job performance, and those who those to eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables at least four times a week were 20 percent more likely to be more productive.

Supporting this, a study by Tel Aviv University Faculty of Management based on 1,632 workers over a nine-year period showed that the highest rates of depression and work burnout rates were associated with employees who did not exercise at all.

Benefits of a healthy workplace

·         Improved work performance and productivity

·         Reduced absenteeism and sick leave

·         Decreased incidence of attending work when sick (presenteeism)

·         Improved staff morale, satisfaction and motivation

·         Improved corporate image and attraction/retention of employees

·         Increased return on training and development investment

·         Improved employee engagement and employee relationships

Many employees are looking to work for companies that can offer these ‘tech start up’ benefits, especially millennials who are more likely to move jobs with greater frequency. Benefits like exercise classes, healthy snacks, fresh fruit are all ‘low cost – high return’.

Even if this is an expense you are unable to make – for example if you are already using your budget wisely with an effective employee reward and recognition scheme, why not consider adding in some new management led heath initiatives? This could mean the infamous ‘duvet days’, anniversary holidays, walking meetings, outdoor brainstorming sessions or ‘bring your own breakfast’ meetings. You could also speak to your local council about any health initiatives close to your premises, or see if any staff have an interest in selling healthy snacks, or even teaching a class.

These small steps can encourage all members of your workplace to start to view health and wellbeing as something that is ‘the norm’ which soon breeds a culture.

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