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Why all employers should encourage their employees to stay healthy

These days it is quite common to see employers offering their workers mental health days, lunchtime yoga sessions, and free smoothies. To the uninitiated, these perks may seem to be fluffy, distracting, or unimportant benefits given out to attract millennials to the company. However, if employees effectively encourage their staff to look after themselves and stay healthy, employers also stand to benefit.

The benefits of a healthier workforce.

Some of the new health initiatives that companies and offices worldwide are taking may seem like more of a PR push than an actual benefit to employees. The reality is that many of the measures are beneficial to both employers and employees. Employees receive the obvious benefits of free workout classes, work from home days, healthier options in the canteen, and a focus on improving mental health in the office.

For employers, some benefits are perhaps less obvious. Employers who prioritise employee well-being will likely suffer less from staff turnover, which can be extremely costly, as every company knows. The hiring and training process can cost thousands of pounds and dozens of hours, and a lot of that expenditure is wasted if the employee leaves soon after being hired.

Also, employees who are given the space and encouragement to take care of themselves are less likely to become sick. Even more significantly, if they become ill, employees are more likely to work from home or take a sick day if encouraged to look after themselves. Instead, employees who battle through the illness to arrive at work are more likely to infect their colleagues and cause general inefficiency and an increase in sick days.

Concerns around impairment

Employing healthy people also means employing people who are not coming to work while under the influence. Most of us have had a few painful hungover mornings at work, blinking at the computer screen while trying to mainline as much caffeine as possible. However, suppose an employee is regularly coming to work hungover, intoxicated, under the influence of drugs, or recovering from taking recreational drugs. In that case, action needs to be taken by the company.

Employees who come to work while under the influence are less productive and will strain the patience of their team members who are forced to carry the slack for them. Even more significant a risk is if an employee comes to work intoxicated and they are meant to be working at a manual job or with heavy machinery. Managers need to be trained to identify such situations and react accordingly before an accident occurs. All employees working with heavy machinery should be given training on how to escalate a concern if they suspect that one of their colleagues is impaired.

The HSE has a series of helpful guidelines on managing intoxication and impaired employees in the workplace. One way employers can help employees who are struggling with drug or alcohol use is through laboratory drug testing. Matrix Diagnostics is a fully accredited workplace testing laboratory that can test for various drugs and substances and provide employers with a speedy test result turnaround time.

Suppose you are not sure where to start but know that you need to have an employee tested. In that case, Matrix Diagnostics will support employers in creating and implementing an effective testing process that follows all of the latest national guidelines.

How employers can encourage healthy lifestyles

Thankfully, there are many different ways for employers to encourage their employees to have healthy, well-rounded lifestyles. One of the best ways to motivate workers to be healthy is to ensure that they are not overworked and that the workloads are evenly distributed among team members.

There will always be busy periods during the year for any job, which will require more extended hours and more dedication. However, if an employee is continually staying late, skipping lunch, and taking calls from clients while on holiday, then it is a sign that something needs to change. Work-life balance is essential for helping employees to have some breathing room, relax, and pursue the interests and activities that bring them joy.

Employers can also invest in perks for employees, such as occasional yoga classes, information sessions on healthy eating, and office-wide pedometer challenges or Couch to 5km teams. There are many different possibilities, and you can look to what other companies are doing for inspiration.

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