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How to create a healthy workplace

Roughly, people who work an average of 40-45 hours per week, spend about 30% of their lifetime working. Did you know that a typical employee will spend an average of 2 years of their life in work meetings?

People regarded as overachievers or in managerial roles and entrepreneurs, who work more than the normal 40 hours a week, will spend nearly 20% or 15 years working. Remember these are calculated as full years of purely doing only work, no breaks, sleep, or meal times etc.

Because of the above, it is important for employers to realize that they have a role to play in the health and growth of every employee. Because more than 30% of an employee’s life is spent at the office it should be a place that enhances health and is a space where the employee can flourish. As employees’ ad to the growth of the business, so should the business ad to the development of the employees to create a win-win situation.

Here are some tips companies can use to create a healthier work environment:

  • Laughter is the best medicine

Did you know that the early 1950’s generation laughed more than we do today? Yes, according to a poll done by a company called Ocean Village in the USA, the average laughing time decreased from 18 minutes then to only 6 minutes a day today. On reference.com it states that the average 4-year-old laughs approximately 300 times per day, while a typical 40-year-old only laughs about four times a day.

So why don’t we laugh so often anymore? Generally, it is perceived that the working world and professionalism go hand-in-hand with a straight, earnest attitude and atmosphere. Life becomes more stressful every day. With all the deadlines and schedules there are simply not enough hours in one day to get everything done.

However, to promote laughter in the office is good for business. It endorses a relaxed and productive atmosphere, and it creates comfortable platforms for good communication. We are not saying that you should clown around the entire time in an unproductive way. We are merely suggesting to bring in a sense of humor at the office to stimulate creativity; mental health and help employees keep things in perspective.

  • Upskilling on emotional health

Sometimes companies tend to overlook this valuable tool. Upskilling and motivation will boost the emotional health of your employees. Health is not only a physical thing but also a mental and emotional state of being. If you give your employees the tools and skills to help manage their own stresses, time management, conflict, anger issues etc. you will motivate them to build their self-esteem. This will result in them becoming more emotionally intelligent to function well, grow and excel within your organization.

Many companies send their staff on public training courses on certain soft skill subjects to help advance their skills to cope with daily challenges. Other businesses appoint a training partner to come into their workplace and motivate or educate their staff on-site. Either or, The Mindspa Institute offers both skilling opportunities. Visit www.themindspa.co.za for more information.

  • Entering events to promote well-being

Many companies either enter teams into running or cycling events or sponsor some of their employees’ extramural sporting activities. Some divisions even enter things like ‘Muddy Princess’ or ‘The Zumba Dance Challenge’. Whichever event floats your boat, these types of healthy activities not only boost team spirit, but also the general health and well-being of your employees.

It not only shows that the company cares about their employees’ health and their well-being but also portrays an image of a reputable potential employer.

  • Physically conducive surroundings

The office should be a calm, comfy and secure place. It goes without saying that your employees should have the necessary office furniture that is both comfortable and functional. Enhance your office surrounding with plants, wallpaper art, relaxing activities like table tennis, foosball or darts for when it is break time.

Google, for example, have cubicles where their employees can rest and lie down, whereas Discovery has an onsite gym to name but a few. Some companies have a staff masseuse, psychiatrist or comfy couches and chill rooms with TVs. Creative companies have colorful décor and items or games to spark creativity.

Because employees spend almost their whole day at the office, it should be a place they like to be at and would want to come back to. If you are a small business, try to surround your offices with plants that will create a serein setting so to create a relaxed atmosphere that inspires creativity and productivity. If you run a business from home, make sure your desk has a view or the area is open and inspires you.

  • Offer financial assistance and help

Healthcare or medical aid is always a plus at any business. Make sure that you as a company address the employees need for financial contribution toward their medical aid. If you do your research, there might be some good corporate packages that some medical aids or insurers offer. To include these benefits as part of the employee’s salary package will show that you as the employer invests in their future health.

Some companies have gym packages or an in-house gym available to promote exercise and make it easy for employees to get active. If you don’t have the financial means to set up a fully operational gym, consider contributing to employees’ gym memberships or have a Pilatus instructor twice a week for some active sessions. It might even become part of your company’s quiet time ritual.

Tip – if you would like to set up a small exercise area, have a look on gumtree for a few good specials on treadmills or other equipment.

  • Healthy snacks

Even if you are a small business, promote healthy snacks at the office. Have a juicer or smoothie maker and healthy snacks in the break room or canteen. Plate some healthy eats for meetings or presentations.

For larger businesses with canteens or cafeterias, stock healthy treats, and meals which will enhance your employees’ health, ability to focus and will even help them deal with stress better. This will help you as the employer to go the extra mile to settle their hunger and improve their productivity.

There are a lot of other ways companies can become involved in the general well-being of their employees. To create a flexible work hour day, child-care at work, company outings etc. are all ways in which employers promote a work-life balance in their employees’ lives. In a nutshell, it is of utmost importance that you develop the welfare of your employees to keep them creative, focused and productive.