An ideal workplace isn’t merely one that’s profitable and adequately staffed.

For business owners like Kevin Hennessy of Brabo Payroll, creating a safe, positive work environment for employees is what makes running a business worth it.

So, what is a healthy workplace?

It’s one where the employees feel physically, mentally and emotionally healthy.

Here are some not-so-obvious things small business owners can do to support their staff.

How to Create a Healthy Workplace:

1. Give Workers Free Local Produce

Many people would love to eat healthier, but need some extra encouragement. A study published in 2015 found when people don’t have reliable transportation, and they live too far from local stores, they’re not as willing to shop for groceries—specifically, fresh produce.

Fruits and vegetables have a shorter shelf life than other kinds of food, which necessitates making frequent shopping trips to buy them.

Entrepreneurs can take shopping out of the equation by partnering with a community-supported agriculture program (CSA) and supplying employees with periodic assortments of in-season produce brought directly to the workplace at no cost to them.

2. Tune Into Worker Feedback About Wellness

One of the essential ways to make a workplace healthier is to be aware of existing shortcomings associated with the workplace and what employees want to do to focus on well-being. There’s a good chance employees want to look and feel better, but may not know where to start.

A survey distributed throughout the workplace is a useful starting point. If it includes a variety of question formats, such as rating scale, multiple choice and opportunities for participants to provide further clarification about their answers, the poll should be sufficiently informative. Check out SurveyGizmo for easy, free or inexpensive surveying options.

3. Offer Employees a Confidential Source of Support

Having an open-door policy is also a worthwhile step to take. Employees may feel weighed down with worries about financial literacy, retirement planning or how to get high scores on their upcoming annual reviews.

All those things could create mental turmoil, including depression and feelings of worthlessness, ultimately affecting morale and work output.

When they know they can speak openly and confidentially about what’s on their mind, workers won’t feel so overwhelmed by life’s challenges.

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4. Educate People About Stress Management Techniques

Stress compromises the immune system, so people who are stressed out all the time may get sick more often. Employees may think stress is a fact of life outside their control, but that’s not true.

Business owners who want to maintain healthy workplaces can give workers numerous tools to alter their responses to stress and feel better as a result. Recognizing and reducing stress triggers are two helpful strategies.

Yoga and meditation strategies that happen at the workplace but outside work hours can also teach workers specific activities to boost relaxation and tame tension.

5. Help Workers See the Connection Between Health and Productivity

People often don’t realize how the seemingly minor things they do have an impact on how much they get done. For example, glucose is fuel for the body, and foods that release glucose slowly have longer positive effects on productivity, compared to those that give the body glucose over a short period.

A 2016 survey released by Xerox about global wellness practices in the workplace found 59 percent of companies cited increased productivity and performance as a top wellness objective. However, to see those kinds of results, employees must understand that feeling good and being able to accomplish more than usual go hand in hand.

Fact sheets posted in the break room, lunch-hour seminars from health experts and even feedback from people who’ve taken part in wellness initiatives and noticed positive results can urge employees to get on board.

6. Make the Work Environment Inviting

Workplace wellness is about more than a nutritious diet and regular exercise. It also means enhancing the environment by increasing natural light, purchasing ergonomic work equipment and giving people enough space to work without feeling cramped by colleagues.

Adding a few plants could beautify the workplace while cleaning the air, too. Although it’s difficult to measure the number of plants needed for offices of various sizes, studies going back at least as far as 1989 determined some plants have a positive effect on air quality and can reduce contaminants. The presence of plants could also help people feel less frustrated about being cooped up in offices instead of outside.

Using a noise machine that emits white noise to mask audible distractions is another practical option. It could be especially beneficial in an office environment that’s a bit overcrowded or characterized by frequently ringing phones and near-constant chatter.

An appealing workplace is also one where people feel respected and valued. It’s crucial for members of upper management to look out for signs of unrest among employees and tackle them as they arise.

Moreover, maintaining a high-respect workplace culture involves equal treatment of employees, regardless of seniority, and ongoing recognition of employees’ contributions.

Health Comes in Many Forms

This list of tips highlights how health is an all-encompassing goal. A person who has an ideal bodyweight and eats a balanced and nutritious diet but is plagued by untreated or improperly managed depression is not as healthy as they might seem.

Small businesses that are serious about keeping their employees as healthy as possible must carefully consider all the aspects that indicate good health.

Then, they can apply the possibilities above to work toward wellness goals.

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