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13 Tips to Help Promote Employee Health and Wellbeing – Part 1 

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday June 6, 2023

Updated : Monday March 4, 2024

Physical and Mental Health and Wellbeing 

There are many ways employers can promote employee health. By implementing just a few of these, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier workforce.  

And when your workforce is well, your business benefits! From improved moral and company culture, enhanced collaboration and creativity, to increased engagement and productivity.  

6 Factors Affecting Employee Productivity & How to Influence Them

We’ll take a look at the first two pillars of health – Physical and Mental – and how employers can help.  

Promoting Employee Health – Physical 

An employee’s physical health is the easiest to see – which means it’s the simplest to understand when there are positive results. Try these tips to promote employee health and get your workforce on track to a healthier future.  

1. Healthy Eating Habits 

Employers can encourage their employees to eat healthy by providing healthy snacks such as fruits and vegetables, sugar and milk alternatives, and trail mix instead of chips. If you do have company meals, try to choose options with lots of vegetables and less grease.  

For employees that need extra support, internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapies, such as MindBeacon, can help with changing unhealthy habits. And it can be used for more than just eating habits. 

The Connection Between Mental Health and Eating

2. Creating or Sticking to Fitness Routines 

Starting a fitness routine is challenging on its own, but sticking to it is even more difficult. Try offering incentives to employees who reach milestones. But make sure it doesn’t discriminate against differently abled employees – offer alternative exercises or modified options.  

Another fun way to get the whole office involved is to challenge everyone to “walk across Europe/North America/The Sahara Desert” and each day you add the number of steps/kilometers each employee walked to the total until you reach your goal.  

Employers can also offer discounts through group rates at local gyms – a great way to help employees get active. And they can even go together at lunch. We all know having a gym buddy can help motivate us to go more often.  

Heart Disease Prevention for Employees

3. Encourage Good Ergonomics 

Firstly, ensure you are providing proper desks and chairs for your employees. Secondly, provide ergonomics training basics for workers with low impact jobs – such as office employees. For occupations that are more physically demanding, ensure that employees are trained on how to use equipment or machinery. If they are lifting or doing repetitive movements, make sure they are bending correctly, and that they take intermittent stretch breaks to alleviate carpel tunnel or other symptoms. 

The science of ergonomics – designing workspaces for optimal employee health

4. Chronic Pain 

Employees who experience chronic pain have an added challenge. Employers can support their journey by providing workplace accommodation if needed. They can also ensure there is ample coverage for paramedicals, as well as make disability management tools and resources available. Employers can go a step further by implementing a disability management program to help their employees navigate their chronic pain and recovery if possible. 

Promoting Employee Health – Mental 

Employees’ mental health is worse than ever before! So what can we do? We’ll discuss more specifics below, but one thing employees can do right out of the gate is to offer ample vacation and Personal Time Off (PTO) time.  

And make sure you don’t require employees to make up fake vomiting stories to take a day off. If they need a mental health day, have a dentist or hair appointment, or have the flu, they should be allowed the day off with no questions asked. 

Lastly, foster an environment of understanding. The mental health stigma is still prevalent, and employees need to know it’s safe for them to talk about how they feel. 

5. Reduce Stress, Anxiety and Depression 

There is no one size fits all when it comes to dealing with stress, anxiety or depression. Employers can do their part by creating a welcoming environment at work. Fostering a resilient company culture so that employees safe and valued can go a long way toward relieving tension. Lead by example, and don’t allow negative or angry energy to permeate. Make sure employees have the resources and training they need so they don’t feel stressed out trying to complete a task without all the needed materials.  

And of course, offer an Extended Health Care (EHC) benefit with ample psychology or counselling coverage to help employees with depression. An Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can also help with stress and anxiety. 

8 Tips for Managing Workplace Stress

6. Help with Burnout/Work-life Balance 

Employees need their personal time in order to reset so they can perform their best at work. If the tank is running on fumes, you’re not going to get very far. Make sure employees are not taking on more than they can handle. Do this by having regular check-ins, and ensuring you have ample staff, so employees don’t fear taking time off. There’s nothing worse than coming back to a mountain of work because you took a week off. 

Employee Burnout: Spot the Signs, and Solutions

7. Support with Substance Use 

The pandemic saw a lot of worried and anxious people turn to substance use as a coping mechanism. And as we lift our collective heads and breathe easier again, the fact is that many are still imbibing more than they used to. Employers should have alcohol and drug policies in place and all employees should sign off. Don’t have alcohol readily available in the office all the time, and when having work events, limit the number of drinks per person. There are also programs and services available that can help employees kick their habits confidentially while continuing to work. ALAViDA is an option that can be added through your Green Shield Canada EHC.  

In part two, we continue exploring how employers can help promote employee health and wellbeing by looking at Social and Financial Health and wellbeing.  

Continue reading Part 2 for the rest of the 13 tips!

13 Tips to Help Promote Employee Health and Wellbeing – Part 2