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5 steps to creating a healthy workplace

Posted: 11 Jan 2017

5 steps to creating a healthy workplaceWant to make real, actionable changes to your workplace in 2017? No, we're not just talking about cutting costs or making staff work harder – if you want to see results, you'll need to evaluate how you treat your existing workforce, and ensure that your team is happy and healthy.

Funnily enough, a healthy workforce is less likely to need time off; more likely to remain loyal; and will enjoy higher productivity levels, therefore boosting your output and improving your bottom line...but it's not all about profit margins, right?

According to a recent study by Robertson Cooper and the Bank Workers Charity (BWC), one in 10 employees say they don't even have one good day at work each week. So, how can you make sure that your employees don't fall into that bracket?

Robertson Cooper's psychologist and head of client experience, Paula Brockwell, notes that the survey brought to light correlations between factors such as technology, workplace relationships and management style – all of which contribute to a person's physical and emotional wellbeing at work.

Here are five tips for how you can improve the future of your business by investing in your staff – today:

1. Banish presenteeism

Presenteeism is on the rise, as a result of increased workloads and unrealistic deadlines. Your staff shouldn't be expected to work through lunch, stay on late, come in when they're sick or check their work emails while on holiday - did you know that 82% of marketers did this last year? Even if this isn't your company policy, it may have become an unintentional part of your company culture. Make sure staff know their sick leave entitlements, and ensure that management leads by example – which means no more soldiering on if you're ill. Besides, no-one wants to catch your germs anyway.

2. Think about office design

The physical working environment plays an important role in staff wellbeing. It's surprisingly easy to neglect the obvious things such as natural light and air, and you should consider whether the office layout could be improved to make better use of the space. Do people have enough room to socialise and rejuvenate on their break time, for example? Focus also on individual workstation set-ups – are desks and monitors set at the right height, does anyone require additional wrist support, and can you afford to invest in ergonomic chairs or standing desks? Risk-assessing workstations is actually a legal requirement, so it's worth making time for.

3. Promote healthy activities

Encourage healthy habits and behaviours in your staff by ditching the biscuit tin and introducing weekly fruit deliveries, and promoting activity with lunchtime yoga sessions and company bike schemes. Larger organisations may wish to invest in corporate gym memberships or discounts. Numerous studies have shown that a sedentary lifestyle is linked with diabetes, metabolic syndrome and mortality risk – which is why sitting for long periods has been dubbed "the new smoking". Encourage staff to spend some time away from their desk throughout the day – preferably outside.

4. Be flexible

Flexible working is the future of the workplace, and should be encouraged and adopted where possible. Our own research found that this can help to attract candidates and has a positive effect on existing workers. The majority of marketing candidates (94%) said that working from home on a regular basis would be the most appealing flexible working arrangement, followed by flexi-time (93%). Some 80% said the main benefit was a better work-life balance – something that just 62% of respondents were happy with currently.

5. Review your management style

Having management staff who are inaccessible or in an 'ivory tower' just doesn't sit well with today's workers. Younger employees in particular like to feel part of a team, and that their ideas and opinions are being listened to by those at the top. Managers need to realise that their absence can negatively impact employee wellbeing, leading to feelings of disengagement and, over time, resentment. Be present, be engaging and be involved in your team's working lives.

With just a few simple steps, you can create a healthy workforce that's committed to doing their absolute best. Now if that's not a great way to kick off your company's year, we don't know what is.

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