Taking sick days is not uncommon, particularly for employees who work long hours. Unfortunately, employee absenteeism is a huge cost to organizations. The lost productivity and increased health insurance claims can hurt your bottom line.
In fact, sick days are the largest non-recoverable cost for most businesses. When employees miss work, the company loses about $3,600 per year per hourly worker and a loss of $2,650 per year per salaried employee, according to Investopedia.
This is a sunk cost, and it can be a huge burden on businesses, particularly small ones. If you’re trying to avoid the cost of absenteeism, promoting health in the workplace can be a good weapon.
Here are some tips for incorporating better health in the office.
- Provide Health Foods for Purchase
It’s difficult for employees to make healthy food decisions while at work. Most vending machines are full of chips and candy. It doesn’t help when donuts, bagels, coffee, muffins, and other high-carb and high-sugar treats are brought into the office regularly.
Make a difference by having health foods available for purchase. Fruit and vegetable packets, protein bars, whole-grain sandwiches, salads, and other healthy items can replace donuts or muffins.
Take it one step further and make health foods more affordable than junk. Vending machine candy bars tend to be cheaper than health foods. People are hard-wired to choose the cheapest items, even if it only means saving 50 cents.
- Clean the HVAC System
In the office, air quality can make your employees sick. Allergens like mold spores, dust mites, and pollen can live in your HVAC system, building up over time and creating poor air conditions in the office. This can lead to allergies and asthma, particularly during the spring.
To combat illness and absenteeism, have your HVAC system cleaned and inspected every spring. This simple, affordable step will increase employee health and productivity while protecting your system from unexpected breakdowns.
- Foster Open Communication
Fostering open communication does two things. First, it allows you to communicate health information to your audience. You can share knowledge about exercise, health foods, and health programs in the area.
Second, it can act as a conduit for greater mental health. Allowing employees to speak openly with both management and their co-workers can reduce stress, build confidence, and stave off mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
- Encourage Mental Health Days
Full-time employees are usually granted vacation and sick-days. Many employees fail to take days off because they fear getting behind on work. It might seem counter intuitive, but encouraging workers to take a day every now and then for the benefit of their mental health can reduce absenteeism.
These days should be fun-filled and stress free. Hard-working employees need a few days here and there to de-stress and return to the workplace rejuvenated.
- Create a Zen Office
A Zen office is about more than moving the furniture around. It’s also about encouraging meditation, yoga, or other calming practices that can be done while at work. Some of the world’s most influential business leaders swear that meditation is the secret to their success. It can rejuvenate the mind, relieve stress, and increase productivity.
Creating a Zen office is a team effort. It begins with re-decoration and continues with education. Get employees involved in your efforts to revamp the office to increase calm, clarity, and overall mental health.
- Give a Gym Discount
Partner with local gyms in the area to offer employees a discounted membership. A local gym might offer the discount free of charge, and employees are more likely to attend a gym if it’s more affordable.
If you’re unable to provide a discounted membership, consider bringing workout equipment to the office. A treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike is a fairly affordable addition, and it allows employees to take advantage on their lunch breaks.
- Integrate Ergonomic Furniture
Ergonomics is the practice of altering processes and furniture in the office so that it’s easier on the body. Your use of ergonomic furniture and practices could cut your worker’s compensation claims in half.
Start with new chairs featuring lumbar support and adjustable heights. If possible, invest in a few sit-stand desks to help employees get out of their chairs. Examine current processes to decrease the strain on the human body.
Your workers’ health should be your first priority, and it starts in the office. Consider these strategies for increased health in the workplace and enjoy the positive impact on your bottom line!