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How to improve the physical wellbeing of employees in your workplace

stressed employee with multiple coffees

Are your employees physically well? Do they have good nutrition, sleep and exercise habits? Do they drink 4 coffees before entering a meeting or a couple of energy drinks before picking up a tool? Do they crave sugary snacks to get them through the last 2 hours of the working day?

Physical wellbeing relates to our energy levels at work which are ultimately caused by healthy behaviours such as regular exercise, stretching, sleeping well and eating well.

Physical wellbeing is one of the quadrants that make up whole-person health. When this area of health is improved, employees tend to be happier, more engaged and much more productive. Workplaces need to promote and foster physical wellbeing in employees.

The Effects of a Sweaty, Well Nourished Workforce

Your healthiest employees will do up to three times as much work as your least healthy employees. Physically healthy employees will get better sleep, leading to more energetic work performance. They’ll also be more alert and self-aware, lowering the risk of injury onsite.

Healthy employees will request time off less often and will be sick less often. On a personal level, employees feel that their creativity and innovation goes up from 20% to 72% when healthy. Exercise leads to a stronger workforce, with healthier minds and better overall company culture.

Why should We Care Whether Our Colleagues Are Doing their Star Jumps?

Physical inactivity is a social epidemic. National Health Survey data over 20 years, found that we have not improved our activity levels since 1989. 60% of Australians are not moving enough.

Although there has been a growing awareness about the importance of exercise, modern employees find that they have little time to take care of themselves.

We’ve created a society of stressed out couch potatoes, and the problem is cyclic: the more stressed people are, the less likely they are to exercise. The less they exercise, the more stressed they become.

So, employees need a little help. They need direction.

Work-Related Stress Is an Increasing Issue

Work-related stress is often the first to blame when finding a reason as to why employees are neglecting their physical health. When you’ve worked back late, it’s easy to think you deserve to get that greasy take-out. The effect of a nutritious meal on our physical wellbeing can often be overlooked.

A large workload, long work hours, and poor work-life balance can make it hard to sleep, eat, and exercise properly.

Luckily, employers have the power to reverse that.

When we manage large workforces, it is our role to ensure that work is not the reason why they haven’t achieved a balanced lifestyle. It is our role to promote and educate physical wellbeing practices to our employees.

Actionable Strategies to Increase Physical Wellbeing in the Workplace

What can you do to increase your employee’s physical and mental wellbeing without potentially overstepping your bounds?

Here are some tips:

1. Avoid sugar slumps.

That post-lunch sugar-hit may feel good for an hour or two but the slump is not far behind. Educate employees on the best way to fuel their body and sustain energy throughout the day.

2. Don’t spend all your time sitting.

Even when sitting down in a desk all day, you come home exhausted and all you really want to do is relax on the couch. Get your employees moving where possible. Walking meetings, going outside for lunch, doing some simple stretches, and taking the stairs rather than elevator can all lead to improvements over time.

3. Promote tips for good sleep.

Employees may not know why they aren’t getting good sleep, but they definitely know that they aren’t. Provide tips for better sleep to employees; they may not all be intuitive. Limiting screen time, avoiding stimulants such as caffeine before bed-time, and exercising can all lead to better, more solid sleep.

4. Encourage work-life balance.

Don’t create a company culture that encourages employees to always put work first; not only is that not healthy, but it’s also not sustainable. Tell employees to consider their health both during and outside of work hours, and make sure that your company culture emphasises happy, healthy employees. Employees who know that their company cares about them are more likely to care about their company.

5. Implement a team health challenge.

Not only can a team health challenge motivate employees to create long-lasting behavioural changes and to develop better personal health, but it can also be a part of your team-building exercises. Working as a team will help your employees bond and will begin to build a stronger company culture.

A comprehensive strategy will make it easier for employees to understand and address their health issues, ultimately leading to both better mental and physical health.

Healthy Bodies for a Healthier Business

With just a few changes in your company culture, your employees can be well on their way towards more energised and productive working days. By improving the physical wellbeing of your employees, you’ll also do wonders for their mental wellbeing, touching upon two of the four aspects of holistic employee health. It is also important to note that a shift in company culture towards better health can increase engagement from 7% to 55%.

Employees need to be able to put their health first if they want to focus on their work. When employees are healthy, they are able to better focus on their job. If employees are not feeling well, it is difficult to focus on work no matter how hard they try.

Naturally, improving overall employee health can be a complex and involved process. The Wellbeing360 Launchpad is a tool that not only identifies your companies problem area, based on clinically validated tests, it offers a comprehensive way to deploy health, safety and wellbeing programs. All whilst tracking and identifying optimisations and measuring direct ROI. Vitality Works can help you identify the areas that your business needs to focus on, contact one of our helpful specialists to find our how it can deliver value to your company.

Find ‘The ultimate guide to improving the mental wellbeing of your employees in the workplace’ here

Find out ‘The truth about social wellbeing at work’ here

Learn about ‘The importance of work wellbeing and how it affects your bottom-line’

Learn more about Wellbeing360, the health and wellbeing launch pad

Wellbeing360 Launchpad