It doesn’t cost the earth and it makes the world of difference. Here’s how you can help keep your employees healthy and happy.
By Ariana Ayu (Founder, Ayutopia International)
Whenever you address employee morale and happiness, it’s useful to think of it in terms of three basic human areas: body, mind and spirit.
In terms of workplace policies, you can think of body in reference to one’s physical needs, such as sleep, nutrition, and movement. Mind refers to our intellectual need to be challenged, and spirit includes our needs for purpose, meaning, and emotional wellbeing.
Obviously, nothing can be done to improve someone’s happiness without their participation, but as an employer, you can create policies that will support employees in their journeys toward health and happiness–and it doesn’t have to break the bank!
One of the most well-known examples of a major corporation caring for its employees is Google, which offers its employees free healthy food, bikes to ride around campus, nap pods, massage chairs, community gardens and more. But what if you don’t have Google’s resources?
Here are three simple, specific, easy-to-implement ideas to increase your employees’ health and happiness.
Encourage your employees to get away from their workstations at least once a day to move their bodies.
If you’re lucky enough to have gym facilities in your building that you can make available to your employees, you can encourage them to work out together before work, after work, or during lunch. This not only builds morale, but also helps your employees get to know each other better. Workplace friendships help people feel less isolated and more loyal at work.
For employees who don’t want to shower in the middle of the day, you can give them a less sweaty option by designating walking paths and marking them by distance (1/2 mile, 1 mile, 2 miles). I’ve known many hospitals to implement this option very easily – all it costs is a little bit of time to figure out and signpost the route.
If you have a large building, marking out an indoor route allows your employees to move their bodies without going out into the heat or the cold. If you have beautiful (or even just decent) exterior surroundings, you can draw a map of an outdoor route.
Keep your employees challenged and working on projects that intellectually stimulate them.
If you want to encourage innovation and increase efficiency, one of the easiest things you can do is have a suggestion box. This allows your employees to make suggestions or highlight problems anonymously (if desired). The only sticking point with this one is that you have to actually review them!
If you want the advanced option, you can institute brainstorming sessions – times when employees are not working on anything specific, but are encouraged to interact with their colleagues to problem-solve, flesh out new ideas, and nurture their creativity (which increases innovation). You can do this with specific brainstorming times, or by encouraging employees to collaborate as needed in your break rooms or other common areas.
Give your employees a sense of purpose with regards to a greater mission. If your company has some sort of humanitarian mission, this is easy, but if not, you can still instill meaning through your company’s values.
Define your company’s mission and how your individual employees drive that mission forward. For example, the departments that don’t interact with customers are still critical to supporting the ones that do, so help them understand their place in the big picture. You can also ask the individual departments to do this themselves; give them time to meet as a group and brainstorm how they contribute to the mission. Then, post their responses on a bulletin board they can all see them, create a department slogan, or let them find a way to reinforce their group value.
Encourage emotional wellbeing by helping your employees reduce stress. You can encourage them to take time off to recharge and refuel, bring in an expert to teach relaxation, self-care, and stress reduction techniques, or create a designated quiet space where they can relax (massage chairs optional). You don’t need a lot of space for these; I’ve actually seen a closet converted into a beautiful meditation area!
Provide bonding opportunities. Company softball teams, social nights out, and other group activities foster a culture of camaraderie, teamwork, and fun.
All of these suggestions can be put in place at whatever scale fits your business currently. Will they cost you something? Maybe. But the reward of happy, engaged employees is well worth it.