How to work wellbeing into your employees’ daily routines
Looking after your employees’ physical and mental health is a top priority. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it also makes good business sense if you want to attract and retain the best people. A strong employee wellbeing culture has gone from being a nice-to-have to a must-have.
This has become especially important as hybrid and remote working has increased in popularity. It’s no exaggeration to say this has shaped the way we look at workplace wellbeing, and what it means in practice. We recently surveyed HR professionals across Australia and 42% said that savings made through continued remote work in 2022 will go towards providing or increasing a wellbeing budget. There's no doubt that wellbeing needs to be at the centre of your business.
Now, there’s loads of benefits out there that can help you with this. But there are also things you can do to work it into people’s daily routines. Initiatives which will help them feel happier and healthier, without needing to do too much out of the ordinary.
We’ve put together a few ideas for you - feel free to use these as a starting point. Who knows, maybe these will end up becoming a standard part of your employees’ days, just like morning coffees, water cooler chats and rush hour traffic!
Implement outdoor meetings
It’s good to get away from meeting rooms and Zoom calls every now and then. Obviously this won’t be possible for every single type of meeting - for example if there’s lots of documents to go through - but if it’s simply a talking meeting, why not encourage people to do these outdoors?
A blast of fresh air works wonders, both physically and mentally. It’s proven to improve moods, stress levels, oxygen intake, digestive systems and lots more. Oh, and depending on the weather in your neck of the woods, you might even catch a tan!
It’s also a great way to spark creativity. Think about the amount of times you’ve been in a room with someone trying to solve a problem or come up with an idea. It’s not always easy when the environment doesn’t get creative juices flowing. Now try doing this while walking around the block, or sitting in a park. You’ll be amazed at the difference.
Lots of businesses now have a remote or hybrid working model, and while being able to work from home has many advantages, it can lead to a lack of movement during the day. Encourage employees to take some meetings on the go by dialling in on the phone, putting their headphones in and getting their steps in.
Fire up some fitness challenges
Speaking of getting steps in, work fitness challenges are becoming more popular. This allows you to gamify the process of living healthily, making it more engaging. If you get it right, you’ll get healthy competition and healthy people.
How about setting employees a step challenge - who can get the most in during the week? There’s all sorts of apps which track these things, and by linking everybody up, you can create a league table which people see in real time. This is probably the easiest thing to build into the working day - after all, most people will have to be on the move anyway, so you’re simply giving them a reason to step it up (pun fully intended). You can also offer some sort of prize at the end of it, for example a late start or early finish the following week.
Feel free to encourage teamwork as well. Maybe you can ask people to sort themselves into teams and combine their ‘active miles’ over the course of a week.
If you want to take it up a notch, you could run a short and sharp competition once a week - for example a pushups challenge. This can be done over a lunch break and shouldn't take more than 15 minutes, so again, people aren’t having to go out of their way. However, it is important that people take their full lunch break - an hour is good - so consider setting up a walking club once a week too. This is a nice way for people to connect with each other, take their full break and get some physical exercise - all in the context of their normal working day.
Another good option is to ask employees what their own personal goals are, and then reward them for achieving it. Some may want to improve their strength, while for others it could be their stamina or flexibility. By getting people to choose their goals, you’re giving them a sense of ownership over their wellbeing, while also providing an extra incentive.
Eye health is super important, especially for people who work in front of screens a lot. Print off a DIY eye test and pin it up in a communal area. This can be a fun exercise people do in the workplace, while it also reminds them to get a professional eye test regularly.
Create a comfortable environment
We’ve spoken a lot about things you can get employees to do. But the physical environment that you’re responsible for creating also has a big impact.
Let’s face it, there’s nothing worse than sitting in a dark and uncomfortable spot all day, every day. Try and get as much natural light into your workspace as possible. If you’re based in an office or a site, see if you can create different spots for people to sit in, so they can mix it up throughout the day and week.
An area for socialising is great as well. It doesn’t need to be packed with games consoles and pool tables - just somewhere comfortable where people can relax and talk will do the trick.
To really show you’re putting wellbeing at the heart of your business, see if you can cordon off a designated wellbeing room or area. It can be a place employees go to take some time out, clear their heads or maybe even have a quick nap.
Even if your employees work remotely, their environment is still something you can help with. Consider giving them a budget to make sure they have everything needed to work comfortably - for example the right chair or a second screen.
Finally, try to provide some plant life. These can improve people’s moods and stress levels, and the good thing is you can find something suitable for any workspace size.
Encourage good quality diets
Of course, what people put into their bodies is just as important as things like exercise. While you can’t dictate to people what they eat and drink, you can definitely encourage healthy habits.
On a very basic level, you can provide information and resources relating to this. You might think you’re stating the obvious, but there’ll always be some nuggets of information that people find useful.
If your employees tend to buy lunch, how about providing gift cards to businesses nearby that offer healthy lunches? The choice is down to the individual employee, but this reduces the chances of them eating junk food.
If you have a staff canteen, make sure the options available to employees are nutritious and filling. On a related note, make sure the canteen itself is a comfortable and engaging environment, as per our previous tip.
Finally, make sure there’s plenty of water coolers around, especially if you have a very large workplace. If budget allows, maybe you can give everyone a reusable water bottle as well. Drinking at least 2 litres a day is a necessary part of good health, and considering people spend a big chunk of their day at work, you want to make hydration as easy as possible.
The key takeaway
Employee wellbeing is a wide-ranging concept which can have lots of moving parts. It’s important to remember that the little things are just as important as your larger wellbeing efforts. By combining these, you can create a workforce that’s happy and healthy.
Ultimately, that’s a win-win for everybody.