Five easy ways to boost staff wellbeing

Here, Melanie Astbury provides some pointers to producing happy staff.

There are many compelling reasons for promoting wellbeing in the office, including the moral and ethical implications. But perhaps the most attractive are the benefits it brings to your bottom line. After all, the healthier and happier your staff are, the more productive they will be.

Looking after them and promoting a healthier balanced lifestyle will reap rewards for your business. But you’re a start-up. You don’t have much spare cash. So here are five ways to promote well-being without it costing the earth.

1. Embrace the cycle to work scheme

The cycle to work scheme is a win:win. You do have to cover the initial cost of the employee’s bike but, after that, you receive the money back in full via instalments from their wages, plus you don’t have to pay Employers National Insurance on that deduction. For an SME, that works out to about £35 per scheme. Sure, that’s not a huge windfall but when coupled with the benefits it brings your employee (tax free bike, reason to exercise, a less stressful commute) it’s worth embracing.

2. Offer flexible hours

As you know, employees can request flexible working hours by law, so embrace this as an opportunity for employees to work on their fitness, take time for themselves or spend it with the people that matter. No matter how dedicated your staff are, they should work to live. Do all you can to make this a reality to ensure a supportive culture.

3. The gift of free fruit once a week

Offering the workforce healthy snacks doesn’t have to break the bank but what a lovely perk! Not only is it a very visible way of reinforcing your commitment to their wellbeing but underpins the importance of nutrition. Another thing you could do is ensure staff have access to a microwave and enough milk in the fridge to fuel their mornings with a bowl of porridge. 

4. Start a running club

Organising a running club is a great way to help employees to keep fit. It’s free to run. It’s a great to create a sense of community, as you all strive to improve your personal best. Plus it will help encourage those who are shy but keen to tag along. Every office has a keen runner and a born coach so nominate them to lead the club. Then look for ways to incentivise the achievements of all those who take part. A no-brainer is to sponsor them to participate in a 10K run and then to celebrate their success with the whole company.

5. Standing stations

Sitting down for extended periods of time is detrimental to health. Research has proven that not only does it cause obesity, but it leads to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Not to mention increasing your mortality risk. A study from 2012 found that if the average American reduced the time he or she sits to a maximum of three hours a day, their life expectancy would increase by two years. Standing stations are expensive, but creating opportunities for staff to stand as they work, such as organising brainstorms in the kitchen, encouraging them to regularly get up from their desk and walk around is not.

Melanie Astbury is HR manager at officekitten.co.uk.

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