A healthy business team is more productive.*  Absenteeism is lower. Your staff is healthier and happier.

For many company owners, the health of employees is very important, especially with uncertainty among small business owners on the costs of employee health coverage in the future.  And replacing employees who leave for health reasons can be time-consuming and expensive.

Here are some tips to help keep the workplace gang healthier and happier – and your company’s bottom line pumped up.

1. Help your employees eliminate unhealthy habits. Make it company policy, and a benefit that’s highlighted regularly. Subsidize, or pay for, "quit smoking" programs. Serve healthy foods in the company cafeteria and replace vending machine junk food with healthy alternatives.  Conduct regular drug testing to maintain workplace safety and to identify employees who need help.

2. Walk for charity.  Sponsor a local walking event to raise money for a good charity. Encourage employee participation. Print up team t-shirts, provide team support, and demonstrate, not only concern for good health, but good corporate citizenship as well.

3. Maintain the good health of healthy employees. Offer opportunities to healthy, low-risk employees to stay that way.

  • Provide walking time each day – even if it’s a brisk walk around the office complex. Walking briskly elevates heart rate, increases blood flow, and invigorates.
  • Provide ergonomically sound chairs, desks, wrist rests, keyboards and other technology to keep your team happy and healthier.
  • Schedule frequent breaks, or rotate employees to different jobs during the day. Employees working the loading dock can use one set of muscles all day long. Move those employees to another activity that uses another set of muscles to lower the risk of injury and repetitive stress disorder.

4. Add wellness incentives to company-provided health insurance. Most employees want to lower their health care costs, so build health incentives into the cost of the coverage your company provides.  This empowers each employee to better manage his or her health insurance costs. For example, an employee who quits smoking can save money on health care coverage. Provide incentives for kicking the nicotine habit, starting and maintaining a sensible, medically-sound fitness program, losing weight, and other basic lifestyle changes that can keep valued employees healthier.

5. Provide safety equipment and train staff in its proper use.  Everything from ear cups in noisy workplaces to the fire extinguisher in the break room may dramatically lower health and safety risks. Many business insurers offer entertaining, helpful in-house training in basic workplace safety. Contact your insurer to see if they offer employee safety and health training.

In the meantime, employees should have access to hard hats, safety glasses, safety gloves and other protective equipment when needed. They should also be trained in the use of this equipment, and be required to use it during daily work activities. It’s just common sense, and can be a low-cost, high-return investment in the people who make your business a success.

6. Provide bicycle security.  Add a locked-down bike rack, or let cyclers keep their “ride home” in the office. Encourage biking to work by making it simpler, and more secure.  Those cyclists may arrive at work energized and happier than after an hour fighting traffic on the interstate.

7. Check and maintain workplace HVAC systems.  This is where mold can grow, producing spores that enter the air. Mold can cause illness, fatigue, and a staff that seems to have more and more allergies.  Call in a mold specialist to inspect your system and keep the HVAC systems clean to help keep your team working at its best.

8. Make good health part of your corporate culture. Emphasize the importance of employee health, safety, and fitness in internal communications, and encourage executive management to participate in health-related activities to set an example for other employees.

Walking time, stretching time, company-sponsored yoga after work in the conference room – these are not only healthy for your employees, they’re healthy for your business.

*www.acoem.org/uploadedFiles/Healthy_Workplaces_Now/HPM%20As%20a%20Business%20Strategy.pdf

The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.