Ways to Encourage Your Employees to Stay Healthy and Happy

As a business leader, you value the health and happiness of your employees. You’ve always prided yourself on being the kind of boss who listens and cares about people getting along in the work environment, and a large part of that is understanding what your employees need. Lately, you’ve thought you could improve how you encourage them to be responsible for their health. Sure, you might provide them with great benefits such as healthcare and dental coverage, and maybe there’s a bullet-point somewhere in your mission statement about the importance of health in the workplace.

But you know you can do better. So if you’re ready to commit to making your business healthy for your employees, here’s how you can encourage them in a variety of ways.

Allow for flexibility

One of the easiest ways you can encourage your employees to stay healthy–both physically and emotionally–is by allowing for flexibility in the workplace. We mean this in a variety of ways: allowing employees to complete projects on schedules that work for them (working on Saturdays and not Mondays for example), creating a flexible vacation schedule, and allowing employees to work from home. It may be hard to manage at first, but once you’ve established a system that works for everyone, employees will have more time to commit to their health.

For example, if you have an employee who likes to work out in the middle of the day, this is easier for them to do if they’re working from home. The same goes for an employee who needs to meet with a therapist once a week or might have panic attacks that would be too much to handle in an office setting. Meet one on one with each employee, and find out what works best. Nearly half of Americans are working remotely at least some of the time, so having this policy now will also encourage new hires (and discourage resignations).

Get creative with fitness parks and fitness apps

Some companies are lucky enough that they can offer a gym membership to all of their employees. But if you’re running a small business and already have quite a lot of costs, you likely can’t offer benefits of this kind. That doesn’t mean, however, that you have no options. By exploring what’s out there and spreading the word to your employees, you can make a huge difference in their physical health.

For example, if you live somewhere sunny like California, you should research fitness parks near you. According to MRC Recreation, “In recent months, fitness parks have been popping up all over the nation as more communities recognize the value of promoting health among their residents. While gyms have long been a favorite place to workout among fitness enthusiasts, people are now opting for outdoor fitness park equipment that allows them to strengthen and tone their bodies while soaking up the beautiful sun.”

By encouraging your employees to go to parks like this during their lunch break, they’ll automatically get an extra half or full hour of exercise a day. Another option is researching free yoga or body-weight fitness apps, and allowing your employees to do their exercises throughout the day. Considering that health and fitness apps grew 330 percent from 2014 to 2017, they’ll find something that works for them.

Research the best emotional health resources

One of the hardest things as an employer is watching your employees struggle with mental health issues. The last thing you want to do is give them an assignment that might cause a depression- or anxiety-related problem, especially when the benefits you give them might not offer the best mental health care. Because it’s a stigmatized problem, lots of insurance companies might not make therapy as affordable as it should be. Even though nearly 1 in 12 adults in the US suffers from depression, we’re expected to act like it doesn’t exist.

So if you can’t give your employees direct access to great mental health care, at least do some research and find out what resources are free and cheap near you. Call up the therapists in your area and find out if they have a sliding scale payment plan for people who aren’t covered by insurance for their services. And make your office a safe space for discussing these issues, so that no one feels ashamed about taking work off because of them.

These are some of the best ways to keep your employees healthy and happy. What other strategies do you think would work in your office?