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Improving your staff’s health

Improving your staff’s health

Employees are encouraged to get outside for at least 10 minutes a day as part of National Vitamin D Awareness Day.

Having worked in the field of HR for many years, I am fully aware of the ‘as long as they’re here, that’s all that matters’ mentality towards employee attendance. This seems to be most prevalent among small business owners who are likely to notice the financial repercussions of a sick day more acutely than a larger organisation.

However regardless of how big your company is, a change in attitude towards employee health and wellbeing is required. Rather than just focussing on traditional measures like absenteeism, smart employers should be investing in simple, cost-effective and targeted employee health and wellbeing initiatives. Healthier employees are better able to operate at their best, and happy employees are willing to volunteer their best with positive emotional states at work (like morale) being linked to significant improvements in business performance.

Employee health, both physical and psychological, can significantly impact workplace productivity and overall business performance.  Just because an employee is sitting at their desk doesn’t mean they are performing at their best. If they are feeling stressed, unwell, over-worked or demotivated, they simply will not do their job as well as if they are firing on all cylinders, which has obvious business implications.

Known as ‘presenteeism’, the state when employees are at work physically, but diminished in their capacity to do their job can have far-reaching effects on business success. Financially, the cost to employers for presenteeism can be far greater than that of absenteeism, highlighting the need for employers to recognise the importance of optimising employee health,  wellbeing and engagement.

One of the most worrying statistics of late centres on the high number of Australian workers skipping lunch every day because of work pressure. Research conducted this year by Australian research agency Pure Profile showed that more than half the Australian workforce remains completely indoors all day, with the majority saying it was because they were too busy to take a break and get outdoors.

Deadlines and work pressure can act as triggers for stress-related illness, so this research raises the important question of why employers are not more actively encouraging their staff to take a break and physically leave the office to prevent them burning themselves out. It’s a low cost initiative which can reap high-return business productivity gains, driven by a happier, healthier and more positive workforce.

Moreover, employees themselves should also be ensuring they get outside for at least ten minutes a day for the sake of their health. That’s all the time needed to top up your vitamin D levels, which, in a recent study published by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, has been directly linked to workplace productivity. It can also act as a ‘mood booster’ and help fend off a multitude of potential health issues associated with a vitamin D deficiency.

Ultimately, though, it is down to employers to ensure they are communicating the right messages to their employees. A culture that puts performance, as well as personal health and wellbeing high on its agenda will engage and motivate far higher levels of performance than one which centres on rigid work practices and clock-watching. Encourage your people to step outside, take a breath of fresh air, enjoy a healthy level of UV exposure and return to the office feeling revived. You’ll reap the benefits in no time.


*Original Article by Ainsley Salsbury:

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