Employee health directly impacts productivity and various aspects of employee conduct, including absenteeism, company morale, job performance, and job satisfaction. That being said, 75% of high-performing companies regularly measure health status as a viable component of their overall strategy.

People spend 8-10 hours of their day sitting at their desks while working. Sitting alone has been associated with various health risks such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and more. Due to this, around 60% of individuals do not go through the minimum recommended 30 minutes of exercise per day. 

Because an employee spends a good chunk of their day working, it falls upon the employer to find ways to improve employee health. More so because 87% of employees feel that it’s the employer’s responsibility to facilitate a healthy work-life balance and a healthy lifestyle.

Reasons to Focus on Improving Employee Health

Employees are the driving force behind any company. Sick employees cost companies not just in terms of loss in work output but also rising healthcare expenses can cost you upwards of $1695 per employee each year.

One of the main concerns of any employer is absenteeism, but you should also focus on presenteeism. Presenteeism is when an employee shows up to work but cannot work to their full capacity due to their illness or current medical condition. Some argue that presenteeism is more costly than absenteeism. 

The only way to tackle the health concerns of your employees is to focus on policies that work on improving employee health.

Ways to Improve Employee Health

1. Focus on Empathy

At the end of the day, employees are humans. At some point, they will come face to face with stress, burnout, and fatigue. 1 in 4 employees suffers from a poor state of mental wellbeing. More often than not, your efforts towards being empathetic might be getting lost in translation. 

Let’s take a look at this survey that says 92% of CEOs feel that their organisation is empathetic while only 50% of employees feel like their CEO is empathetic. This might make you feel that despite your best efforts and interests, there seems to be a gap somewhere in between. 

In situations like these, it’s a good idea to reach out to your employees as you would to your customers if there was criticism regarding your product/service. The only difference is that external customers are more vocal as compared to internal ones. 

On the other hand, 92% of employees feel that empathy is key to employee retention. Proactive communication in the workplace is crucial to address such needs and determine the right path forward.

2. Provide Preventive Care

It’s human nature to ignore health risks and keep pushing them down further on the priority list. Ask yourself, when was the last time you went for a routine checkup?

Preventive care results in early diagnosis, which leads to better health in the long run. Maintaining healthcare is directly linked to a morbidity-free lifestyle during old age. As an employer, you can start by increasing awareness regarding preventive healthcare and provide annual or bi-annual health checkups and assessments for your employees.

By doing so, you are increasing their chances of living a healthier lifestyle and also reducing your healthcare costs due to early detection of any disease.

3. Provide Incentives

Just like everyone else, employees need the right incentive to lead a healthier lifestyle. As an employer, this translates into introducing a health and wellness program for your employees.

From reduced absenteeism to reduced health costs, wellness programs are known to have many benefits. For instance, Chesapeake Energy built a 72,000 sq. ft fitness centre within their office premises to promote wellness. If you can’t make a fitness facility, you can tie up with a fitness centre or gym to offer your employees discounts. 

Similarly, you can follow Union Pacific’s footsteps that offered a smoking cessation program that included lifestyle coaching, reducing the number of employees who smoked from 40% in the 1990s down to 17% in 2007.

4. Promote Healthy Eating

How often does someone throw an impromptu vada pav party or a Friday evening Pizza Party? Even if that’s not the case, your office pantry is probably full of snacks and ‘binge-worthy’ food items like chips and treats. 

Focus on nutrition is just as important as your focus on an active lifestyle. Even one healthy meal a day has a significant impact on one’s long-term health.

That’s precisely what MPL did. Mobile Premier League (MPL) is a Bangalore based mobile gaming platform that realised the importance of nutrition and replaced the snacks in their pantry with healthy alternatives like fruits and ensured that they served a balanced and nutritious meal for their employees. 

5. Create a Healthy Work Culture

Voluntary participation is more beneficial in the long run than employees participating in something due to an obligation. The way to promote this is by creating your work culture around health where everyone from the management to all the employees participates in it. 

Activities that gamify health and create peer support are much more beneficial towards improving employee health. One of the best examples of this is NextJump

NextJump split their company into teams and offered a weekly reward of $1000 for the winning team. The team that would record the highest level of workout activity per week would win. This activity was exceptional to the point where employees’ parents would write letters thanking them for making their kids healthier. 

In the end

The right way to employee health is to provide a 360-degree approach. From mental health, preventive care to focusing on health-centric work culture.

It also includes practical implementation of these ideas by introducing fitness incentives and programs such as health screening and comprehensive healthcare. While you figure out the right approach for you based on the points above, let us take care of choosing the right comprehensive health plan for your employees. 

With services like unlimited consultations, access to personal therapists, and fitness centers, Plum gives you a comprehensive health plan essential to find the right way to improve employee health.