Investment in Health
Whether you’re an employer of one or an employer of a 1,000, investing in your employees’ health is not just a nice thing to do. It’s a sound business decision. You know all too well that healthy employees with a good quality of life translate into a healthy business offering quality products and services.
But what does investing in health mean? Buying insurance or putting veggie trays in the lunchroom? Yes, to both. And more.
As an employer, you can protect and enhance your employees’ health in three main ways: workplace environment, income protection, and lifestyle promotion.
All jobs are demanding, physically and mentally, and employees are up to the challenge when working in an environment that provides proper ergonomics, clean air, and adherence to safety protocols. Yet, a major cause of workplace illness is stress, caused by lack of direction, lack of support, or an overall feeling of futility. You can avoid this by providing constructive feedback, training, and options for advancement or transfer into areas that tap their passion and use their expertise to the fullest.
Income protection is in the form of a fair wage and a benefits package that balances what you can afford with what your employees will need and appreciate. Retirement savings through group pension or directed RRSPs provides long-term security. Medical and dental insurance, life insurance, and coverage in the event of disability or life-threatening illness provide financial support when needed most and offer knowledge that protection is there just in case. Peace of mind may be a cliché, but it is still a key part of personal and workplace health.
But lifestyle promotion? The last time you checked, you were a manager, not a den mother. However, employees spend about one-third of their current lives in your space, putting you in a prime position to promote habits that will serve them and you. Small things add up to big rewards. Good nutrition – providing adequate meal and nutrition breaks and access to healthy snacks. Exercise – a 20-minute walk is free of charge, clears the head and promotes heart and body health, and is more apt to happen if made a workplace activity. And balance – everyone needs to effectively combine work, sleep, exercise, and leisure activities to avoid burnout and other health problems. You cannot control what employees do outside of your workplace, but if you routinely expect them to answer email at all hours, keep their cellphone on, or take work home, you are intruding on time they could spend recharging through family time, volunteering, doing a hobby, or resting. At the same time, if you see employees working 24-7, you have a moral and business responsibility to help them build more healthy work habits.
Making personal and professional health a priority is a sound business practice, financially, competitively, and morally. And it is not just about paying people more or adding expensive perks to the payroll. It is acknowledging that we all are human, and we all need each others’ help sometimes to build better habits and treat ourselves well.
A $10 veggie tray in the lunchroom may not seem like much of an investment, but if it breaks the cookie cycle and puts healthy eating on the radar, it’s a profitable start.
Alastriona (Alastra) Gifford is an HR Associate at Velsoft Training Materials.