One of the biggest challenges UK businesses face today is workplace wellbeing (or workplace wellness as it’s sometimes called). Time taken off work as sick leave accounts for £29 billion of losses each year, with the average Brit taking 9.1 days off work sick; over 4 times the amount Asia-Pacific workers take off (2.2) and almost double what the average US worker takes off (4.6).
What can you as an employer do to impact this statistic and reduce your teams’ need for sick days?
This doesn’t mean you have to turn your office into a jungle – adding a few plants, ensuring a supply of natural light (if windows aren’t an option, take a look at Solatube’s daylight systems) and fresh air (this could be as simple as opening the windows at the start of the day, lunchtime and mid-afternoon). All of these have been shown to improve worker alertness, health and productivity for a small cost. Stuffy, dark and bland environments are not ideal working conditions for a healthy team.
In order to maximise your team’s level of wellbeing, we recommend regular one-to-one catch-ups as well as performance reviews to give individuals a chance to have their voice heard in a quiet setting. Not only will you get insights into how your team is workload and health-wise, it is also a great chance to make your workers feel like their voice is being heard, helping increase their job satisfaction and increasing staff retention across the company. Make sure these sessions are productive and leave your team feeling happy with the outcomes.
We’ve written in the past about building an ergonomic office and the benefits still ring true in 2017. After minor illness and stress, Musculoskeletal injuries/back pains are the main cause of time off work. While some injuries are unavoidable, the effects can be reduced by investing in comfortable, high-quality furniture designed to properly support the back. Not only will time off work reduce, ergonomic furniture has also been shown to increase productivity.
It’s very easy to snack on biscuits and crisps when sat at a desk for 7 hours a day, in fact, some media outlets have even challenged the workplace’s ‘cake culture’. Many of us know how hard it is to maintain a healthy diet and the craving for unhealthy snacks is one of the hardest habits to break. So, instead of keeping boxes of biscuits and chocolate about the office, why not fill a fruit bowl, offer some trail mix and provide cold filtered water, your team’s bodies will thank you for them, even if they do complain at first about their ‘missing hobnobs’.
Obesity in the UK has “more than trebled in the past 30 years” and, amongst other factors, spending longer sat down at a desk-based job is partly to blame. Fortunately, through office design that encourages movement and other features like standing desks can encourage your team to spend more time on their feet. Encouraging workers to leave their desks at lunch and head out for some fresh air can work wonders for their health, both mental and physical, as well as aid concentration and productivity.