How to Support Employee Health Instead of Sapping It

How do you create a great place to work?

Once, paying people well, offering interesting assignments, and providing recognition may have been enough.

But the nature of work has changed. Over the past decade, technological advances have enabled us to work at all hours, often at great expense to our sleep. We’re surrounded by devices that make everything feel urgent, peppering us with distractions and contributing to an ongoing experience of stress. And we’ve become more sedentary, as tasks requiring movement have quietly disappeared.

A growing number of companies have begun recognizing that helping employees maintain their well being is now a vital component to creating a thriving workplace. And many are taking steps well beyond the usual corporate wellness programs to foster employee well being.

Here are the some of the most intelligent workplace practices I’ve encountered recently and why I believe the research supports their use.

Facilitate physical fitness. A wide range of studies have found a direct link between physical movement and mental agility. We have clear evidence that regular exercise improves concentration, memory, and creativity – not to mention mood. This can be done with simple equipment, in short breaks, and with a minimum of space.

Make healthy eating easy. It’s obvious that having access to nutritious food makes it easier to stay energized throughout the day. Yet at most companies, almost no attention is paid to employees’ diets. And when food is provided, it’s often unhealthy. To offer healthy, nutritious foods at the office is easier than you think.

Foster mental growth. As human beings, we have a psychological need for growing our competence. That applies to all domains in life, but it’s especially true at work. Our engagement peaks when we’re being challenged and acquiring new skills. In contrast, when our development stalls, we experience boredom and inevitably disengage. Keep your employees interested in their  own growth while letting them take ownership in growing the business.

Pay employees to stop working. Intelligent workplaces recognize that taking time off is not a luxury. It is essential to top performance, an optimistic mindset, and full engagement. For leaders who are genuinely interested in preventing burnout and fostering productivity, there is a useful alternative to unlimited vacations: providing a set number of vacation days and encourage people to actually use them.

 

Source Harvard Business Review by:  Ron Friedman, Ph.D. is the founder of ignite80, a consulting firm that helps leaders build thriving organizations, and the author of The Best Place to Work: The Art and Science of Creating an Extraordinary Workplace.

 

 

 

 

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