You’re probably familiar with the financial, marketing, tax, and legal aspects of running a small business, but what about the health aspect? Actively promoting a healthy workplace can increase productivity, improve the mood, and cut down on the amount of sick time your employees take. You can do that in many ways, from educating your employees on health issues to providing the tools and environment to make healthier choices.
Promote Physical Activity
Staying active not only makes your body physically stronger and healthier, it can also help you and your team focus better. Consider the benefits of exercise as they relate to your employees and your business:
- Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and sharpens memory.
- People who are physically active are less likely to get sick, so they don’t take as many sick days as those who aren’t physically fit.
- Regular exercise gives you more energy throughout the day and allows you to work more efficiently.
- Physical activity releases a chemical called an endorphin, which is the human body’s natural calming agent that helps reduce stress hormones and increase positive feelings.
- Exercise gives people control over their health and fitness and gives them a sense of accomplishment, which helps your employees feel motivated and confident that they can achieve other goals in fitness and beyond.
Your small business may not have the luxury of an on-site gym, but you can designate a small space as a workout area. Small gym equipment, such as dumbbells and exercise balls, doesn’t take up much space, but it gives your employees a way to exercise during their breaks. Another option is to pay for a gym membership for your employees. They can get a workout before the workday or go for a workout session at lunch. If you have a conference room in your workplace, consider hiring a yoga instructor to come in at lunch and turn the conference room into a yoga studio.
If your employees spend a lot of time on their computers, consider switching their traditional desks to standing desks to prevent prolonged sitting. In addition, you can encourage your employees to exercise as a group by forming a lunch jogging group, starting a softball team, or participating in a fitness challenge. Going for team walks or runs or playing team sports during lunch breaks is not only good for the body, but group activities also boost morale between coworkers, encourage teamwork, and can bring your entire crew closer together.
Challenge your employees (and yourself) to stand up, walk around the work space, and stretch often during work hours. Breaks are necessary to refresh the mind and foster creativity. While it may seem counter intuitive, allowing regular breaks can boost productivity and help maintain an environment of innovation and focus at your small business. If you or your team tend to work right through breaks, you might consider mandating a group break all at once. This makes your employees realize it’s okay for them to step away from work for a few minutes, and it gives you a chance to bond on a personal level to build employee relationships.
Promote Good Hygiene
Good personal hygiene helps keep the office a healthier place overall by keeping germs to a minimum. You might post signs in the work area and in bathrooms reminding employees to mind their hygiene, and have hand sanitizer readily available. Cleanliness on everyone’s part can keep employees healthy during cold and flu season, which keeps your business operating as effectively as possible. Healthy employees can work more efficiently, and you can cut down on illness absences. When employees attend work regularly, your office’s overall productivity stays higher. But you also don’t want to discourage people from using their sick leave if they truly are sick. Employees who show up when they’re sick because they’re afraid to use leave can spread the illness throughout the staff and cause more absences.
Encourage Healthy Eating
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That fuel along with regular healthy meals and snacks throughout the day provide the energy your staff needs to crank through work efficiently. You can encourage healthy eating by keeping a snack cupboard stocked with healthy foods that are ready to eat or easy to prepare, such as oatmeal and fruit. These snacks don’t have to cost a lot to be effective, and the nourishment makes everyone more productive and focused throughout the day. Plus, it’s a nice perk to have free snacks in the office, which can boost employee morale. It’s also a good idea to have a water cooler or access to drinking water to encourage employees to hydrate so they stay focused.
Make Safety a Priority
A healthy workplace also means a safer workplace. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the government’s health and safety regulations and make sure your employees are educated on them as well. These regulations give you the minimum guidelines for reducing workplace hazards, preventing injuries, and creating an overall healthy and safe place to work. You can identify areas to improve safety by taking a walk-through of all work areas. Try to look for potential hazards and ways you can minimize them. You can also chat with your employees to see if they feel unsafe with any of the working conditions.
Mental Health Tips for the Workplace
Taking care of your mental health is an important part of your overall wellness. You can create a workplace that encourages positive mental health by fostering an environment that allows those who need help to get it. That might include providing a list of resources where employees can receive crisis counseling or other mental health support. You can also minimize the potential strain on mental health by creating a positive, supportive work environment. Promoting work-life balance and implementing conflict resolution strategies are two ways to support mental health in the workplace.
Educate Employees in CPR/First Aid
Health is sometimes a matter of life and death. By training at least one team member in CPR and first aid, you can have someone who can take change until an ambulance arrives if an incident occurs. It’s a good idea to have multiple people trained since employees are sometimes out of the office. You can hire a trainer to come into the office and put on a CPR and first aid training for all employees as part of your yearly training.
Managing stress in the workplace creates a more positive environment and helps your employees perform better. It’s a good idea to monitor your employees so you can recognize when they seem stressed or overwhelmed with the workload. You may need to adjust an employee’s workload to help manage that stress or assign another staff member to help out. You can also help by encouraging open dialogue so employees feel like they can speak up when stress becomes too much. Implementing little stress relievers into the workplace can help. You might create a comfortable lounge area, set up a pool table, let employees bring pets to work, or play music.
Just like you, your employees need time to unplug, relax, and sleep soundly. You can help by not expecting employees to respond to emails past dinnertime or on weekends unless you arrange for it in advance. Minimizing overtime and not expecting employees to work at home beyond regular work hours can also help them get the rest they need.
Desk Plants That Clear the Air
Poor air quality can negatively impact worker productivity. You may notice increased mistakes, longer time to handle service calls, and similar issues when office air quality is compromised. Consider adding an air purifier and make sure you change filters regularly. Plants can also help you achieve better office air quality.
All plants help clean the air, but some particular types of foliage are especially efficient at this job. Boston ferns, for instance, help remove pollutants such as formaldehyde from the air. This can be surprisingly common in offices, as it’s often found in insulation as well as the glue holding particle board desks and shelves together. Ferns are also relatively hardy, and they can likely survive the weekend without watering if you water adequately during the week. Other low-maintenance options include rubber plants and peace lilies. Both of these plants have similar purifying abilities as ferns. Alternatively, consider giving your employees a bit of fresh air and a taste of the tropics with a miniature potted palm tree.
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allows small business owners, including self-employed individuals working out of their homes, to deduct business expenses on their tax return. When you buy a plant for your office, you may opt to deduct the expense as a business expense. Because it is not a recurring expense and you are likely to have the plant for a few years, you may want to include the cost in your capital cost allowance.
Alternatively, consider giving a small plant to each of your employees to set in their cubicles. In this case, you can write off the cost of the gift as a business expense, but your employee doesn’t have to report the value of the gift as income. However, you must give the gift for a holiday, birthday, or other special occasion. If you just give your employee a plant to celebrate a random Tuesday, your employee has to report its value as income.
Update the Office for Healthier Air
While purifying plants can help, you may want to take additional steps to clear the air. Consider removing and replacing old carpet. It’s notorious for harbouring offensive chemicals or pollutants. Additionally, consider adding a mechanical air filter, increasing how often you dust, and using a vacuum with a high-efficiency filter.
Little changes can add up to big health benefits that also improve productivity and help your bottom line. Keeping track of the money you invest into making your office a healthier workplace is easier with tools such as QuickBooks. The QuickBooks Self-Employed app helps freelancers, contractors, and sole proprietors track and manage their businesses on the go. Download the app.