It’s essential for employers, managers, and leaders, in general, to show a vested interest in the welfare of their employees. Caring for both the mental and physical welfare of your staff doesn’t just improve your workers’ personal health. As we detail in the article below, it can also provide a plethora of benefits for your company as well, such as:
- Increasing employee focus, productivity, and morale.
- Empowering employees to step up and become more involved.
- Fostering a sense of appreciation, trust, and loyalty between staff and management.
- Reducing stress and anxiety, especially during times of crisis.
Here are several of the best ways that you can cultivate employee wellness — both physically and mentally speaking — within the ranks of your own workforce.
Maintaining Mental Health
Starting with mental health, here are four of the best ways to show concern for the mental wellbeing of your employees.
Speak Up About Mental Health
The first step in encouraging mental health amongst your staff is to dispel the stigma that acknowledging concerns of this nature equates to failure. For many, struggling with nuanced concerns like depression, anxiety, and other mental health threats can be perceived as little more than an inability to maintain self-control and order over their mental state.
As an employer, it’s important that you bring attention to the fact that both acknowledging an existing mental health concern and asking for help are both acceptable and encouraged, even in their workplace.
Nurture Workplace Culture
Your company’s workplace culture is, in essence, the personality that your workplace chooses to endorse. It is made up of a series of corporate values and company-wide rules and guidelines that set the tone for how your company operates.
Company culture can focus on a variety of different things, such as transparency, honesty, or corporate social responsibility. Maintaining a mentally healthy work environment can also be considered part of your company’s culture.
If you make mental health not just a goal, but literally a part of the character of your company, it can help to create a sense of openness, communication, and confidentiality between you and your employees. This can further facilitate addressing mental health concerns and can help employees focus on the positive aspects of their professional environment.
Encourage Mental Health Breaks
Taking breaks has been shown to, among other things:
- Increase creativity.
- Boost productivity.
- Consolidate memories.
- Restore motivation.
- Prevent decision fatigue.
It’s recommended that an individual spend no more than 2 hours on a signal task. As an employer, it’s important to encourage your employees to feel at liberty to take breaks regularly throughout the workday.
Practice What You Preach
It’s essential that management not just teach but also demonstrate how to care for mental health as well.
For instance, if you tell your employees to take breaks but then fail to actually unplug at the end of each day, they may feel unnecessary pressure to perpetually remain “on the clock” as well. In order to truly foster your employee’s mental health, it’s important to also consider your own.
Promoting Physical Safety
Along with mental health, it’s important to encourage your employees to stay physically healthy, as well. This is just as important for remote workers as it is for those who labor in the same physical space. Here are four suggestions for ways to promote physical workplace safety, both in-person and virtually.
Have Regular Meetings on Workplace Safety
If you and your employees encounter regular workplace hazards throughout your workday, the first thing that you want to do is establish protocols to address workplace safety on a regular basis. Ideally, you should have regular meetings to remind your employees about applicable safety rules and regulations in their workplace. Topics to cover should include, but not be limited to:
- Maintaining a “safety-first” culture.
- Providing incentives and rewards for those who report safety concerns.
- Developing a culture and atmosphere of trust, teamwork, and communication between management and staff.
- Keeping both management and coworkers up to date on important concepts such as workers’ comp, getting bonded and insured, and maintaining adequate general liability coverage.
By reviewing and updating information via regular meetings, you can ensure your team remains well aware of workplace safety protocol as well as their forms of recourse if something goes amiss. Likewise, regularly shopping around and getting updated quotes on insurance or from different bonding companies can help you get the best rate and save your company money.
Make Sure Everything is Properly Labeled and Signed
A key aspect of physical safety is simply making sure that everyone remains aware of the risks involved in operating in the workplace. While regular meetings are a good way to keep everyone informed, another option is to clearly label any potential hazards.
If a step is a tripping hazard in your warehouse, mark it with orange duct tape. If you have food in your breakroom, make sure to provide signs that highlight allergens and schedule times to cycle expired food out on a regular basis. On an administrative level, it’s also important to take the time, as an employer, to stay up to date with any OSHA requirements that may impact your workspace as well, such as putting proper railings on construction equipment or utilizing hard hats for workers.
Promote Taking Breaks to Stretch
Taking breaks isn’t just good for your employees’ mental health. It also provides an ideal situation to get some physical exercise. It’s important, as an employer, to encourage this by suggesting that your employees regularly:
- Go for walks.
- Stand and stretch at their desks.
- Adopt a “deskercise” routine.
In the case of a remote workforce, this can be an important reminder for your employees to get up and move around — especially since more than 8 out of 10 employees tend to be desk potatoes. In a physical office or workspace, you should also go out of your way to personally demonstrate the need to stretch. The act of seeing the boss getting exercise during their breaks can serve to spur employees to emulate the activity.
As an added bonus, the knowledge that breaks are encouraged in your workplace can help to enhance your reputation as a good company to work for — allowing you to attract greater talent in the process.
Finally, it’s critical that you establish a sense of vertical trust and communication between your employees and yourself. You can do this by:
- Providing clearly delineated forms of communication for employees to use to communicate with you.
- Practicing active listening as you vet employee concerns.
- Showing an interest and putting effort into addressing voiced concerns.
The development of trust, in particular, is essential for a healthy workplace. This doesn’t just include general suggestions, but legitimate reporting and even whistleblowing when appropriate. Calling out bad company practices has been linked to positive cultural change, exposing corruption, and ultimately improved company performance.
As such, it’s important to establish reporting protocols and feedback loops for employees to utilize as you collectively attempt to maintain a mentally and physically healthy workspace.