Health and Wellness

Keeping Employees Healthy

December 8, 2020

Keeping employees healthy isn't your responsibility, but it is helpful for your business. Learn tips and tricks for a healthy office.

Keeping employees healthy includes eating better and working out.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Well, aside from the start of cold and flu season. So to keep the season wonderful, focus on keeping your employees healthy.

While nobody likes being sick, it’s especially hard in the workplace. A round of illness could wipe out your entire team, making a stressful time even more stressful. Keeping employees healthy is also an important part of year-end. After all, everyone has important things to do, so laying in bed with the flu is especially stressful.

In this article, we’ll discuss why it’s so important to keep your team healthy. While COVID-19 regulations keep the coronavirus at bay, not every state has to enforce the same rules. So, we’ll discuss different ways you can keep employees as healthy as possible. First, let’s take a deeper look at the importance of having healthy employees.

The Importance of Healthy Employees

medicine, tea, and tissues in the foreground and someone laying on the couch in the background.

When you’re sick or dealing with a health issue, you don’t feel like working much. So, it makes sense that sick or unwell employees are hard on business. Aside from impacting the overall productivity, unwell employees can also impact the rest of your team.

When someone is absent, everyone else has to distribute and carry the additional workload. This added stress can potentially lessen your healthy employee’s immune system because the stress hormone corticosteroid suppresses the immune system. This just further increases the chances that the cold or flu can spread throughout your workplace. Obviously, this is the last thing you need!

While we’re on the topic of productivity, unhealthy employees cost businesses a staggering amount of lost productivity by “unhealthy” we’re not just talking about cold and flu season. Chronic health conditions among employees can also be detrimental to a business. According to a HuffPost article, 30% of employees that are overweight with chronic health issues miss an average of 1-3 days every month depending on how many chronic conditions they have.

The risk of COVID-19 is also still very real. Add all of these factors together and we get a very clear picture of why keeping employees healthy is so important. Now that we’ve covered why it’s important, let’s take a look at some tips for keeping your employees healthy across all of these areas.

Tips For Keeping Employees Healthy

While you obviously can’t control your employee’s lives or actions, there are steps you can take to help employees stay healthy. Again, we’re not just talking about cold and flu season or COVID-19. We’re talking about encouraging an overall healthier lifestyle. When you utilize these tips and get employees excited about staying healthy, they are more likely they are to stick with it. Continue reading for our tips for a healthier workforce.

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

If you live a healthier lifestyle, you’ll have a better immune system, which gives you a better chance overall of staying healthy during cold and flu season, COVID-19, and everything else. So, helping employees stay healthy isn’t just great for them, it’s also beneficial for business. There are a few ways you can promote a healthy lifestyle in the workplace.

a class of women exercising. Keeping employees healthy includes promoting a healthy lifestyle.

Keeping Employees Healthy with Exercise

One of the easiest ways to encourage physical activity is to provide gym memberships to interested employees. Some people may be intimidated by the gym, but it’s easier to commit to if you can go with a friend from work. This is more encouraging for a few reasons.

  • Many gyms provide a group discount, which means the more people that participate, the better pricing you’ll receive.
  • This group mentality creates a great motivator.
  • People tend to stick to their goals more if they know others are keeping them accountable (especially someone they’ll see every day at work).
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If you’re thinking, ‘well that’s fine, but gyms in my area are closed’ keep reading. Now that we’ve covered post-restriction deadlines, let’s look at what you can do while things are still shut down from COVID.

Exercise During COVID-19

A man working out while watching his laptop in his living room.

While this is a great plan for the future (when gyms re-open), there are other creative ways to encourage employee health. There are many streaming services available now that allow a class-type experience from home. This is a convenient and cost-effective way to encourage employees to be active and healthy.

Depending on the room you have available, you could even purchase a few pieces of equipment. Gym equipment is pricey, but you can usually find used equipment for a better deal. This way you can get all the necessities, without spending a fortune. Allow employees to use the gym area before or after work to encourage the habit.

While you’ll still have to ensure social distancing and proper sanitation of equipment, this is doable during the quarantine.

Healthy Eating

While the main focus for getting healthy is usually exercise, don’t forget about how fueling your body can affect your health. While you may think you’re eating healthy, it may not be the right kind of food. There are specific food groups you can eat more of to improve your immune system and overall health for cold and flu season.

Eat Foods Containing:

  • Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, broccoli, and red bell peppers are all a great source of Vitamin A. This vitamin helps your immune and respiratory systems – perfect for cold and flu season (and COVID-19).
  • Vitamin C: Of course we can’t have this list without mentioning Vitamin C! Citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, and red bell pepper are all high in vitamin C, which, of course, is great for your immune system.
  • Vitamin E: This antioxidant is great for your body any time of the year, so eat any foods rich in Vitamin E when you can. Foods rich with antioxidants include nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, and avocados.
  • Zinc: A zinc deficiency can cause immune system dysfunctions. So to keep your immune system as healthy as possible, eat foods with Zinc including beans, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry, and seafood.

Again, you can’t control what your employees eat while they’re at home, but you can promote healthier eating in the workplace. If you provide snacks or lunch, choose healthier options instead of non-perishables. Fruits rich in vitamin C like those mentioned above are great alternatives to treats.

Keeping employees healthy includes eating foods rich in Vitamin C.

Now that we’ve covered keeping employees healthy with a healthier living, let’s take a look at how self-care helps your health.

Encourage Self-Care and Stress Maintenance

While eating the right food keeps your body healthy, self-care helps your mind stay healthy. Self-care includes stress maintenance as well. Overall, keeping your mind at peace helps your body stay healthy.

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You don’t necessarily have to spend money to encourage employee self-care. It can be as simple as encouraging employees to take a longer break on particularly hard days or sending employees articles with ideas that help them practice self-care at home. It’s also helpful to encourage employees to keep a planner or calendar at the very least. Putting tasks down on paper free up the brain and can be a form of self-care.

We’ve said it plenty of times before and we’ll say it again – stress is terrible for your health! Encourage employees to take up meditation, yoga, or some other form of stress-management. This will help employees stay stress-free so they’re able to operate as efficiently as possible. Chronic stress can manifest into chronic illnesses. As we explained earlier, chronic illnesses can cause multiple absences every month. So, keeping employees healthy isn’t just good for them, it’s good for business.

Flu Shots

A closeup of someone getting a flu shot in their bicep.

While nobody likes getting a flu shot, employees will appreciate it. According to WebMD, getting your flu shot does decrease your chances of getting the flu by 40-60%. So while it’s not a sure-fire vaccine, it can do an okay job prevent employees from getting the flu.

You could encourage employees to get their flu shots by making it easy for them to do so. One way to do this is to arrange a day of flu shots for employees. If this isn’t possible due to COVID-19 regulations, you could reimburse employees that get their shots on their own time.

Some employers take it a step further and even extend this offer to families of employees. After all, the best chance of keeping employees healthy is if all members of their family are also staying healthy.

If, after all of this, an employee does get sick, make sure your sick leave properly accommodates it.

Sick Leave and PTO Policies

Sometimes, keeping employees healthy means just giving them time off when they need it. We’ve long believed in unlimited PTO, and during cold and flu season and COVID-19, it’s especially helpful.

If an employee has to care for a sick child, make sure they stay home. In the age of Coronavirus, we’ve all been guilty of thinking, ‘at least it’s just a cold.’ However, cold and flu season can still knock out an entire office. Sick is sick, so make sure the employee is on the mend before returning. And rest is the best medicine, so ill employees will heal faster.

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