Work Life
March 8, 2024
March 1, 2024

9 Ways to Create a Healthy Work Environment

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For those employees who either can’t work remotely or choose to work in the office, warehouse, store, or wherever else, a healthy work environment is key to helping them stay productive, engaged, and productive.

“Healthy” can cover a lot of things. For this article, we’ll break it down into physical, mental, and emotional health, and we’ll cover these strategies:

  • Empower physical activity
  • Offer healthy choices
  • Provide ergonomic equipment
  • Recognize everyone
  • Be empathetic
  • Be inclusive
  • Provide resources
  • Fight stress
  • Offer flexibility

Using these strategies to improve the overall health and well-being at work can be a huge boon to your culture, retention, and engagement efforts. In fact, new research shows that having a healthy workplace is 10X more important to employees than pay.

woman asleep at desk surrounded by work

A Closer Look at the Pillars of a Healthy Workplace

Physical comfort, emotional safety, and mental wellness are the pillars of a healthy workplace. Let’s take a closer look at each of these to see what you can do to improve them.

Strategies to Improve Physical Comfort

When you hear the words healthy workplace, many people first think of physical comfort. And that’s good because it’s important to be comfortable at work! Studies show that having an office that’s comfortable to work in is one of the most highly valued attributes of a company for employees and plays a huge role in employee satisfaction.

To that end, here are some strategies you can do to increase the physical comfort of your workspace:

Empower Physical Activity

If you have the space and budget, an in-office gym can be a great way to allow employees to stay active. If the weather allows it, a workout park or even just some walking trails around your building would be a huge benefit. Empower activity with things like bike racks, locker rooms, and activity-specific breaks each day.

If you don’t have space to offer these spaces in-house, don’t worry—you can also provide discounts for gym memberships, fitness equipment purchases, active commuting, and more. You can also incentivize healthy behaviors with at-work rewards to help motivate employees to be healthy both at work and at home.

Offer Healthy Choices 

If you have meals or snacks at work, offer healthy options for everyone to get. Ensure that everyone has the time to take a lunch and enjoy these options, if they so choose. If you have a cafeteria, subsidize the healthy options. Similarly, subsidize healthy food in vending machines if you don’t have a cafeteria.

Proper nutrition can help employees enjoy increased cognitive function, more energy, decreased anxiety and stress, and better concentration.

Provide Equipment That Provides Safety and Comfort

Whether your employees work at a desk, on a manufacturing floor, in a delivery truck, or anywhere in between, they need the right equipment to stay comfortable and healthy. Ergonomic equipment, back braces, good shoes, and seat cushions are all good places to start.

The best way to learn what equipment your people want is to ask them. Send out a survey or have managers ask their employees what may be causing them discomfort, and find ways to alleviate that discomfort.

woman moving large schedule to include rest

Strategies to Improve Emotional Safety at Work

Physiological safety is a vital part of work—your employees deserve to feel like their workplace is a safe place to be themselves, speak up, share their opinions, and learn from mistakes. Here are some strategies you can try:

Recognize Both Success and Failure

Never overlook a win. Celebrate successes and recognize effort to build mutual respect and trust. This type of recognition also lowers turnover, raises engagement, and builds a culture that people love being a part of.

On the flip side, encourage innovation and experimentation. Be understanding when employees make mistakes and fail. Recognize those mistakes and present opportunities for growth and learning. Avoid blaming individuals when things go wrong and focus on improving processes instead.

Be Empathetic and Open in Communication

Foster trust by encouraging open communication between everyone. Be open about anxiety, stress, and burnout, and ensure that your people know they can bring these and other issues up with their managers or other leaders, if necessary.

The goal is to keep employees from feeling isolated. To that end, train managers to have frequent one-on-ones to check up on employees and ensure they have at least one person they trust and can talk to at work.

Be an Example of Inclusion and Acceptance

Be inclusive in hiring practices, brainstorming sessions, company parties, and everywhere in between. Make sure that everyone knows that they are welcome and accepted, regardless of their background, race, beliefs, or personality.

This starts with leaders and core values. As long as you have the values and personify them yourself, employees are more than likely to follow suit.

Strategies to Improve Mental Wellness at Work

Employees who feel supported in their mental health perform better, are more satisfied, more loyal, and less likely to miss time. Here are some ways to help with that:

Provide as Many Resources as Possible

Do you have any Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) aimed at well-being? If not, it’s time to create one or two (or three or four). These can offer support and resources for things like stress, depression, burnout, and more.

Consider Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as well. At Awardco, we have a Women’s ERG and a Pride (ERG) to provide resources for anyone who may be feeling negative emotions at work.

Mental health resources  come in many different shapes and forms—talk to your healthcare insurance provider to see if they have any partner programs that you can implement to offer employee mental health support.

Combat Stress at Every Turn

90% of employees have been stressed in the past year, and 77% of them are burned out now. This costs businesses over $300 billion in absenteeism, turnover, lowered productivity, and insurance costs.

One of the best ways to combat stress is with good benefits. Make sure people have enough time off to take breaks when they need it. You can also offer mental health PTO to really help employees avoid feeling overwhelmed. Sufficient and affordable healthcare also lowers stress.

Create a culture of support and collaboration instead of something that’s focused more on hustle and getting results no matter what. Focused hard work is good, but pressure to always be online and never take a break is a recipe for stress.

Offer Any Flexibility You Can

Nothing is more effective at combating employee stress than flexibility—employees who have the freedom to manage their time and their schedule are 3X more likely to be happy at work.

Not every job is conducive to unlimited flexibility—we get that. But every job can offer some measure of schedule, location, or PTO flexibility. Try to increase mental health by letting employees have some measure of freedom in how, where, and when they work.

woman stretching at her desk

The Role of Technology in Creating a Healthy Workplace

In today’s world, technology makes it easier than ever to improve the health and wellness of any workspace. Digital and virtual tools and platforms can make the above strategies much more manageable and effective for everyone.

Wellness Incentives on a Digital Platform

Awardco allows you to create custom wellness incentive programs, such as exercising, eating healthy, getting sunlight, or practicing meditation. You can drive these healthy behaviors by rewarding those who participate with points. (And with our automation features, you won’t have to manage any of it yourself.)

Health and Wellness Apps

Get everyone involved with your health initiatives by providing a company-sponsored app. This is a great way to get the word out and spread excitement because everyone can download the app and participate.

Fitness Tracking Equipment

Give out or subsidize the purchase of fitness equipment such as smart watches, fitness trackers, or similar devices. This is a great way to empower the personal fitness goals of your employees.

AI-Powered Insights

AI tools can help you and employees gather health data and provide customized feedback for how to improve overall wellness. This is emerging technology, so research it and find a tool that works for your workplace.

woman looking at improved performance chart on phone and computer

Make a Healthy Workplace Your 2024 New Year’s Resolution

Employees that feel safe and taken care of at work are more engaged, productive, loyal, and happy. Putting effort into updating your work spaces to improve physical, mental, and emotional health can make a huge difference for your people this year.

If you want to know how Awardco can help create a rewarding culture of frequent recognition, contact us today.