7 Ideas to Promote Physical and Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace

We spend an average of 42.5 hours every week at work. That’s a huge chunk of time out of the week and it’s time that should be spent wisely.

In fact, it’s for exactly that reason why we decided to write this article. Unfortunately, the importance of employee wellbeing is often under acknowledged in businesses, and this can result in high employee turnover, mental health struggles, dissatisfaction and more.

Therefore, to keep your staff onboard, engaged, and motivated now is the time to promote physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace.

The benefits of healthier, happier employees

If you look after people’s wellbeing, you will see increased engagement, higher productivity rates, and happier employees. Other benefits of promoting physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace include:

  • Employee motivation to increase company turnover
  • Reduced absences
  • Improved staff retention
  • A higher dedication amongst workers
  • Greater company loyalty
  • Improved physical and mental health

To take advantage of these benefits check out our seven tips for promoting physical and mental wellbeing in the workplace.

Recognise and praise hard work

Your employees are working hard every day to help your business succeed. But how often do you recognise the hard work they put in?

A recent survey found that 70% of employees admit recognition makes them feel happier. And yet, many businesses fail to recognise and praise their hard work.

Building recognition and praise into your company’s culture establishes a positive work culture and an uplifting working environment.

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Whether you commend people in front of a crowd for their great work, hand out awards, offer bonuses or surprise raises, write notes of encouragement, or give gifts, recognising and praising hard work cultivates a working environment where people feel valued and appreciated.

Take part in the green commute initiative

The Green Commute Initiative is a great way to boost the physical wellbeing of your employees while taking care of the planet.

There are many companies who offer savings on electric bicycles as part of the Cycle to Work Scheme, like Urban eBikes who says: “[The initiative] is a social enterprise with a vision to get commuters out of cars and onto any kind of bike, with the dual purpose of improving both the individual’s health and wellbeing.

As well as reducing the environmental impact of pollution and congestion from cars.”

You could, for example, make things fun by encouraging friendly competitions between employees; who can cycle to work the most in a month? Which person can achieve the most miles? Could someone forego public transport altogether and cycle to work in all weathers?

The Green Commute Initiative is a great way to improve employee physical and mental wellbeing by encouraging people to get outside and get active. It gets people talking, encourages a sense of comradery, and lets employees know you care about their physical wellbeing. The benefits are endless.

Encourage friendships to develop

As David Brudö, CEO and cofounder of Remente said in an article by Business Insider: “Most adults spend a minimum of 1,680 hours per year in the office, so you are likely to spend more time with your coworkers than almost anyone else.

“While you do not have a say in who your coworkers are, chances are that you will have common interests.”

Building lasting friendships in the office can be one of the most fulfilling aspects of employees’ working careers. If people at work have office friends to spend time with, people they can chat to over lunch, or share new ideas within meetings, they are more likely to enjoy being at work.

Some of the ways you can help facilitate new friendships in the workplace include allowing coworkers to take their full lunch break, encouraging them to arrange away days or social events, introducing an office wide Slack channel dedicated to sharing personal interests, and implementing a buddy system.

These small changes can go a long way to fostering long term office friendships that benefit your employees’ mental wellbeing over the long term.

Promote physical wellbeing to employees

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Allow for flexible working and remote days

COVID19 has changed the way we work, possibly forever. Lockdown saw a record number of workers transition from office to remote working with many people keen to continue working remotely after the pandemic.

After all, sometimes it’s good to try different ways of working. Remote working allows employees to work from wherever they want to, with many people reporting it encourages greater focus and more inspiration for new ideas. While remote working requires trust between businesses and employees, it can also result in greater emotional wellbeing and employee retention.

Allowing for flexible and remote working empowers employees to fit their working habits around their own lives to enjoy a healthier, happier, work life balance. And, most importantly, it lets employees know that you trust them. As a result, you will have harder workers and higher retention rates.

Invest in standing desks

We’ve all heard the saying ‘sitting is the new smoking’. According to the New York Times: “It doesn’t matter if you go running every morning, or if you’re a regular at the gym. If you spend most of the rest of the day sitting – in cars, office chairs, or on your sofa at home – you are putting yourself at increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, a variety of cancers and early death.”

Not only is this sedentary way of life harmful to our health, but it can also reduce motivation and decrease mental wellbeing. And yet, we still require staff to sit at their desks for a minimum of eight hours a day.

One way to offset the negative side effects of sitting for long periods of time is by standing. Standing while you work engages your core, back muscles, and legs. What’s more – your body will burn energy while you work!

As offices seek to improve employee comfort, increase productivity, and promote mental and physical wellbeing, standing desks are being introduced at a faster rate than ever before. If you haven’t considered a standing desk, let the words above convince you. Standing desks are one of the best ways you can support your employees’ wellbeing.

Offer unlimited paternity/maternity leave

Did you know that Netflix recently made headlines when they announced they were offering unlimited paternity and maternity leave to their employees? This offer allowed employees to take as much time as they needed in the first year after their child was born or adopted. And the announcement has many businesses revisiting their own paternity/maternity leave guidelines.

Netflix’s Chief Talent Officer, Cranz told The Huffington Post: “We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances.

“This new policy, combined with our unlimited time off, allows employees to be supported during the changes in their lives and return to work more focused and dedicated.”

The benefit of offering unlimited maternity/paternity leave to employees is that it recognises the need for a positive work life balance. It shows that you care about your employees’ lives outside of work. That you want to support the things that matter to them, fostering greater well being and job satisfaction.

Employees will become better advocates for the company,. They will come back feeling rested. Ultimately, this is meant to encourage a culture of freedom, trust and responsibility in a workplace.

Provide counselling services

Everyone needs help sometimes. And it’s fair to say there are plenty of people in the workplace struggling with their mental health without knowing who they can talk to.

Join the fight against mental health by providing counselling services, offering mental health days, and asking employees individually how you can support them.

60% of employees say they would feel more motivated and more likely to recommend their organisation as a good place to work if their employer took action to support their mental wellbeing. Mental health should, therefore, be treated with as much importance as physical wellbeing.

Smart employers know that taking care of employees’ mental health helps foster a safe working space where people feel supported. Providing counselling services to support the mental health of your employees can, quite simply, be life changing.

In Summary

Promoting physical and mental wellbeing at work can make all the difference to your employees. It’s all about providing support when needed and cultivating a culture of support, teamwork, and transparency.

A communicative and connected workplace promotes happier, healthier employees who have the support they need to grow and improve both in their career and in their lives. Fundamentally, the change starts with you.

About the Author

Gemma Hart is an independent HR professional working remotely from as many coffee shops as she can find. Since graduating in 2013, Gemma has gained experience in a number of HR roles but now turns her focus towards growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts. Connect with her on Twitter: @GemmaHartTweets

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