Health & Wellbeing in the Workplace

It’s a simple enough idea: healthy employees create a healthy work environment! Let’s talk about why employee health and wellbeing should be a priority of your corporate management style in the year to come. 

Work-related Risk Factors for Health

There are lots of risk factors for physical and mental health that may be present in the working environment. Some jobs can carry a higher physical risk. Other jobs come with a psychological toll, for example, first responders, counsellors and humanitarian workers. 

Even jobs that are considered safe, such as office work, retail and the tech sector, can become stressful when workplaces are understaffed or mismanaged. Bullying and psychological harassment are commonly reported causes of work-related stress by workers and can present a significant health risk. 

What Is a Healthy Workplace?

A healthy workplace could be defined as one where employees and managers actively engage in promoting and protecting the safety, health and well-being of all coworkers.

Legal Requirements in Australia

Workplace Health and Safety (WH&S) requirements vary by state and industry, but there are some general guidelines that must be followed by all businesses. This law provides a consistent framework for businesses to create healthy environments for their workers, ensuring that workers do not face discrimination, physical injury, or harassment at their workplace. It is important to meet all of these legal requirements; however, in many ways, these laws are the “bare minimum” for employee wellbeing.

Tips to Integrate Physical Wellness into the Workplace Culture

Many jobs, such as construction, factory, and industry jobs contain a high amount of physical activity. But for jobs that are more sedentary, such as office work, it can be helpful to promote physical wellness as a company value. 

Some companies choose to include a gym membership in their benefits package or update offices with adjustable sit/stand desks. Other ways to integrate fitness include outdoor activities as team-building exercises or timed “stretch breaks” throughout the workday. 

health and wellbeing

How to Promote Healthy Eating in the Workplace

Healthy snacks can go a long way to improving employee health, mood and performance. It’s important to provide workers with an adequate lunch break so they can feel energized to complete their work day. Other ways to promote healthy eating include:

  • Offer fresh water, tea, coffee and juices instead of soda and energy drinks
  • Offer a variety of healthful foods at corporate events
  • Switch out the usual vending machine junk food for healthier options such as baked chips, veggie straws, jerky, dried fruit and flavoured popcorns

The Importance of Maintaining a Network of Support for Mental Health

There are things employers can offer to help people with mental disorders continue to work and to reduce the risk of problems like stress and anxiety at work from getting out of control:

  • flexible hours
  • adequate breaks
  • job-redesign
  • positive workplace dynamics
  • systems to critique workplace dynamics
  • supportive and confidential communication with management 

There is a stigma associated with mental disorders, harassment, and bullying, so it is important that management identifies and treats mental health issues with sensitivity and support. 

The Benefits of a Healthy Workplace

Workplaces that promote wellbeing and support their employees are more likely to reduce turnover rates, increase productivity and benefit economically. When workers feel healthy and supported, they can take more pride in their work.

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