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How to help employees be healthy and happy

Research has shown that 26% of the UK population believe they do not have a good work-life balance. Pair this with the 58% who state they are “too tired” to exercise during the work week, and it’s clear we need to find ways to help employees be healthy and happy.
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It’s important to encourage an open culture in the workplace, one that puts employee wellbeing at the forefront of what we do. The stats show that happier, healthier employees are generally more productive, have improved overall efficiency and higher levels of motivation.

Here are my five top tips for leaders looking to facilitate a better work-life balance within your teams, helping employees to be happier, healthier and therefore more productive.

1. Enforcing home time

An innovative company based in the Netherlands, Heldergroen Design Studio, has created a radical way to ensure their employees leave work on time, avoiding long and often unnecessary working hours. As soon as the clock strikes 17:30, the office furniture is removed, meaning employees must stop working.

If this approach is slightly too radical, how about facilitating a working environment that encourages employees to “switch off” by leaving on time. It’s important that workers don’t feel they need to stay late to get ahead or work overtime unnecessarily. Having a specific cut-off time for employees is a great way to encourage staff to have a healthier work-life balance, meaning they’ve got time for their family, friends, exercise, hobbies and interests.

2. Banning lunch “al-desko”

According to Huffington Post, about 62% of professionals typically dine “al-desko” – eating at their desk. Aside from the lack of fresh air and social interaction, dining “al-desko” is actually detrimental to your health and is proven to be an unproductive method of working. Making sure employees pop outside at lunchtime and take full, regular lunch breaks ensures the team is less stressed, more creative and motivated.

3. Flexible working

Over half of workers say that they would exercise or go to the gym more if they had flexible hours. Working smarter – whether that’s flexible hours, remote working or simply letting an employee work in a way that suits them best – can help workers lead healthier lifestyles, such as having easier access to exercise facilities or avoiding a stressful commute.

Flexible working environments create a culture where life outside of work is just as important as work itself. Giving staff the opportunity to work flexibly is a fantastic way to boost happiness and staff morale, showing you trust your employees, and resulting in improved productivity.

4. On-site facilities

Plenty of large offices support healthy lifestyles through providing on-site gyms or other exercise facilities or subsidising the cost of membership. If this isn’t an option for your company, there are still facilities you can provide that will encourage your team to exercise around the working day.

Employees are more likely to exercise immediately before work, or during their lunch break, if shower and locker facilities are available to use at the office. Investing in these facilities also encourages staff to cycle or run to work, promoting an active lifestyle and healthier routines in the workplace.

With the number of people now choosing to travel on two wheels steadily increasing and city councils across the UK making improvements to their cycling infrastructure, staff members shouldn’t feel held back cycling, walking or running to work because their office doesn’t have the facilities to support their needs.

5. Invest in technology

Research has shown that a large proportion of employees would consider moving jobs for a more tech-savvy company. It’s not just standing desks and wacky gadgets that count though; investing in technology that actually ensures staff members are able to carry out their duties smoothly and efficiently are integral to achieving happiness and productivity within the workplace.

We’ve all experienced painstakingly slow technology and it’s a huge bugbear across the globe. By simply investing in the technology which is now at our fingertips, we’re providing our staff with the means to work effectively and stress-free.

Finding solutions to help your team be healthier and happier needn’t be an expensive or time-consuming task. Each company is individual – just like its employees – so choosing the right solution for you and your team is personal. However, by increasing the opportunities that are available to your staff, not only will they feel empowered by these new options, but their overall happiness will increase and the importance of wellbeing in the workplace will be put front and centre.

Jason Downes is MD of Powwownow

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