Before the COVID-19 pandemic, stress was already costing Australian businesses upwards of $10 billion every year. Anxiety levels have worsened, with COVID-19 proving to be hugely disruptive to corporate wellness.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to workplace stress and other related health problems. However, it could potentially be beneficial to implement a workplace wellness program with the goal of improving health and wellness, as well as productivity, at your company.
Here are five ideas for actions you can take to protect the health of your company’s employees:
Conduct a Health Risk Assessment or Employee Interest Survey
A Health Risk Assessment is designed to help you identify potential hazards that are present in your workplace. It can also help you to implement a plan to remove these hazards and reduce health risks to your employees.
Another possible approach: make a list of all the wellness initiatives your company is prepared to work on and circulate the list to your employees. Ask them to rate each idea and provide feedback on the ideas that would best motivate them to work toward improved health. For example, would they find it useful to have incentives to quit smoking or utilize a free gym membership? Have them share their ideas for initiatives, too.
Ensure employees have paid time off
Your employees are more likely to take care of their own healthcare needs if they have sufficient time to do so. Ensure that they are given time off for doctor’s appointments and self-care.
Provide access to counselling
In the wake of COVID-19, Australians’ mental health has taken a downturn. To protect your business, it would be beneficial to ensure that your employees have access to mental healthcare. If your company provides a health insurance policy with extra benefits, ensure that psychology is one of the health services included in the plan.
An alternative would be to hire a therapist to provide corporate counselling services. There are quite a few practitioners that provide this type of service in Australia.
Be sure to vet your provider carefully to avoid the dodgy ones; at a minimum, if you’re using a counsellor, you’ll want to ensure that he or she holds a vet qualification or a bachelor’s degree in counselling or psychology. It’s even better if they’ve obtained a Master of Counselling degree and have registered with the Australian Register of Counsellors and Psychotherapists. If you’re using a psychologist, you will want to ensure that he or she has completed a postgraduate degree in psychology and have registered with the Psychology Board of Australia.
Whichever option you choose, ensure that your employees know about it, and encourage them to take advantage of these services when needed. Reassure them that these services are confidential and there is no taboo associated with using the services.
Sponsor wellness workshops
Many allied health providers are willing to conduct workplace workshops for the purpose of educating employees on how to be healthier. There are, for example, psychologists who will conduct mindfulness workshops, employee assistance programs and EQ workshops. There are physiotherapists who can provide workplace training on proper posture and ergonomics.
Workshops like these can ensure that your employees have the knowledge they need to keep themselves healthy and productive at work. You could consider hosting one or more of these events annually.
Stock the kitchen with healthy food and beverage options
Diet contributes significantly to one’s health, wellness and mental clarity. You can’t control what your employees eat, but you can give them healthy options in hopes they will eat those things rather than consuming unhealthy junk food. With that in mind, consider stocking the kitchen of your workspace with healthy snacks, such as fruits, nuts and fresh vegetables.
Perhaps your startup doesn’t have the budget to provide food for all of your employees. In that case, you can at least ensure that any vending machines you have offer healthy options rather than junk food. Daily habits contribute significantly to a person’s health and wellness levels; imagine the differences in outcome if an employee buys a piece of fruit daily from the lunchroom vending machine, as opposed to a daily candy bar.
These are five things you can do as a business owner to improve health and wellness at your startup. There are many other things you could be doing to encourage wellness amongst your employees, but these five things are a great place to start. Whether you choose to implement an extensive health and wellness program or just start with a couple of things on this list, in any case, it is worth encouraging a culture of health and wellness in your workplace.