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Ways to Have a Healthier Workplace

5 Ways to Have a Healthier Workplace

Ways to Have a Healthier WorkplaceCOVID-19 shown a spotlight on health. Now that many employees are returning to the workplace—full time or on a flex schedule—employers can help workers remain healthy by having healthier facilities. Masking and vaccination mandates aside (which vary considerably with location and employer preference), there are many ways to improve the health of workers. I’m not a doctor, but common sense suggests simple measures can go a long way in maintaining a healthier workplace.

Here are 5 ways to have a healthier workplace:

1. Maintain a clean workplace

Can you believe that workplace equipment, such as a desk, can be 400 times dirtier than the average toilet seat? DeskTime lists, which made the 400 times statement, lists some other startling stats: there are 16 million microbes on the typical office keyboard and only 3% of offices sufficiently clean their equipment.

Hand sanitizers became ubiquitous during the pandemic (I used so much that my steering wheel is peeling). But even if the use of hand sanitizers slackens, other safety measures should continue. Sanitize on a regular basis any equipment that has multiple-employee use. Encourage employees to sanitize their workspace—desk telephone, desktop, etc.

2. Offer healthy snacks

If you have a break room, stock it with fruits, water, and other healthy choices for employees. Avoid sugary items—donuts, soda, etc. Bear in mind that employees may have certain health issues or dietary preferences (e.g., intolerance to gluten; lactose intolerance; vegan).

If you have company-sponsored events, such as “pizza Friday,” consider how to make them healthier. Add salads or, even better, change to different (healthier) events.

3. Revisit wearables

If your company uses badges for security purposes, think about how much they’re touched. Consider switching to apps that provide security but avoid contact.

Also consider eliminating the tradition of wearing neckties (which has already become a thing of the past in many businesses that have gone casual). While studies on whether neckties harbor pathogens have mixed results, why chance it?

4. Encourage healthy habits

The more that employees can do to maintain their health, the better it is for them and the company (fewer sick days, less use of health coverage). Areas to encourage:

  • Exercise. This can be walks at lunchtime, stretching throughout the day, and company-supported activities (e.g., a baseball team).
  • Sleep. While an employer doesn’t accompany workers in bed, they can help employees with sleep by not texting, email, or calling during off hours.
  • Diet. Diet doesn’t mean limiting food for the purpose of losing weight; it’s to have a healthy intake. In addition to company-provided items, it’s helpful to offer information about health eating.
  • Regular checkups. Encourage employees to see their doctors and dentists and receive any medication and shots indicated. Support mental health by not stigmatizing those who need professional help. Be sure employees know how their health coverage pays for this. For example, if a small business has a high-deductible health plan combined with a health savings account (HSA), withdrawals from the HSA can be used to pay for qualified expenses, including over-the-counter medication.

5. Make safety a priority

Accidents and work-related illnesses can impact what a company pays for workers compensation or other claims. To minimize these costs, invest in worker safety. OSHA offers a Small Business Safety and Health Handbook containing safety and health information, including self-inspection checklists, to help you optimize your workplace.

Final thought

Winston Churchill said: “Healthy citizens are the greatest asset any country can have.” The same can be said for a business.

It’s hard these days to find good employees. It’s in the company’s best interest to treat them well and keep them healthy. Do what you can.

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