Your organization is only as good as the people who comprise it, so keeping your team healthy, focused, and motivated should be a core objective for every employer. We spend most of our week at work, which makes the workplace a major factor in overall employee well-being.
It’s often the case that in order to improve one thing, you have to remove another. When it comes to employee wellness, removing barriers to healthy behavior can pay dividends over the long term. Here are three key barriers to focus on:
1. Barriers to mental health care.
Common but limiting feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness can ultimately hamper our careers if not addressed properly. Anyone can struggle with mental health issues at some point or another, and your employees are no exception. A lack of access to mental health services can pose a barrier to employees who need help.
That access might be restricted by the cost of the services themselves or the cost of taking time off work to attend appointments. To help address this access barrier, ribot, an outsourced design and development company, hired an in-house mental health professional to work on-site four days each month. “Life coach. Counselor. Therapist. Call it what you will. We’ve decided to hire one,” company founder Jerome Ribot says. “The company, I expect, will benefit as a result.” Even the highest-functioning professionals — especially those in knowledge-based or creative roles — need to be cognizant of their mental health. To ensure your team members thrive emotionally and professionally, enable better access to the services they need.
2. Barriers to movement.
Individuals who exercise are typically more productive, happier employees. But many employees are required to spend the majority of their day sitting in order to get work done. Constant sitting can wreak havoc on workers’ overall health. Look for opportunities to get employees moving as much as possible. You could do this by offering discounted gym memberships as part of your employee benefits package or by providing sit-stand desks that allow employees to avoid sitting for 8 hours straight.
Also, make movement part of your company culture. Holding walking meetings around your office or neighborhood rather than packing everyone into a conference room, for instance, can yield fresh perspectives and new ideas. Even encouraging employees to move for a few minutes once an hour can help. In fact, one study found that standing up and walking around for five minutes every hour has the power to improve employee mood and fight lethargy without negatively affecting focus.
3. Barriers to healthy eating.
Many busy professionals sacrifice their diet in order to budget more time for things like work and family. Oftentimes, they turn to convenience foods like restaurant meals or ready-to-eat food from grocery stores, which are not exactly the healthiest options available. As the old adage goes, you are what you eat. What workers choose to fuel their bodies with affects the way they feel and perform.
If you frequently buy lunch for your team or have an in-house cafeteria in your building, make it easy for employees to access food that nourishes their minds and bodies. “Group ordering of healthy meals at lunch is going to be a growing trend in 2020, where companies either subsidize a portion or take advantage of volume discounts,” predicts Jason Barbour, co-founder and CEO of Metabolic Meals, a healthy meal-delivery service. To boost your team’s wellness, steer clear of the pizza buffet and burrito bar, and provide fresh and nutritious options instead.
When companies focus on the well-being of their employees, the effects can be far-reaching. Happier employees tend to cultivate a better workplace culture, which often leads to better work and happier customers. Take steps to invest in your team’s health today, and reap the benefits tomorrow and beyond.