Five years ago David Cameron announced a plan to make the UK one of the first countries to officially monitor happiness. It makes sense that feelings of happiness and well-being are linked, in a large part, to good health and fitness levels, a desire for which appears to be reaching fever pitch in the last couple of years.
The benefits to employers of nurturing a healthy, happy workforce are irrefutable: “Economists at the University of Warwick have found happiness increases productivity by around 12%”
- Fewer working days lost due to physical and mental illness
- Better engagement with work
- Higher levels of accuracy and productivity
- Reduced healthcare scheme costs
So, while we are all donning running shoes or cycle helmets in our free time, the best companies - large and small - are realising that it is very much in their interests to increase workplace well-being, and responding to their workforce’s enthusiasm (OK, enthusiasm might be a little strong for some of us!).
Here’s our breakdown of the ten best ways your company can positively affect staff with your own initiatives:
- If you start by instiling the concepts of wellbeing and happiness into the company culture and encourage line managers to be supportive of it, the task of getting employees involved and enthused will be a whole lot easier
- Incentivise an active lifestyle by joining Cyclescheme to make the cost of bikes for employees tax free, saving a minimum of 25% or create friendly fitness challenges and competitions between departments
- Bring in the experts - employ a consultant dietitian to come to the company on a monthly basis to work with employees on achievable healthy eating targets. Alternatively, bring in professional help for those wishing to quit smoking
- Consider offering stress-reducing ‘lifestyle’ benefits such as childcare and flexible working for fathers as well as mothers
- Work with a local gym or health club to offer your staff subsidised membership, classes, therapies or other benefits
- Subsidise the costs of wearable technology fitness trackers and apps which monitor activity levels including heart rate, steps taken and quality of sleep. Generate a light-hearted level of competition for those using the monitors
- Think about the office environment and consider improving lighting, colour schemes and non-work areas to make the time spent at work as pleasant and conducive to creativity and productivity as possible. Google is the undisputed king of creative workspaces
- Replace or adapt workstations and desks so that office-bound employees can stand for periods of time. The slowed metabolism and health risks associated with sitting for long periods have been highlighted by a recent British Heart Foundation study
- Walking meetings are a great way to get the body moving while also working; walking is said to stimulate creativity
- De-stress staff periodically by offering therapies such as chair massage, Indian head massage and reflexology
While the right employee can't be secured by benefits packages alone, when a company looks after workers’ well-being, the employee is likely to remain with the company for longer and contribute to better performance and higher profits. The tangible benefits are obviously that it’s going to affect your bottom line, but won’t it also make for a more a more pleasant environment to inhabit, if co-workers are contented?