Recent studies shared shocking statistics designed to make UK employers (and employees) sit up and listen. One study conducted by Kit Out My Office revealed that 72% of office workers consume over 50% of their daily calorie allowance munching on unhealthy snacks at their desk throughout the day. Another by landscaping firm Ambius found that 40% spend a maximum of just 15 minutes outdoors every day – with a seriously significant impact on their overall health and wellbeing as a consequence. When you consider that poor health and sick days cost UK employers a whopping £29 billion per year, it’s easy to see why more companies are looking for ways to keep their workforce fitter and healthier. Here we share five key methods to try to help maximise your employees’ mental and physical wellbeing.
Introduce stand-up desks
Excessive sitting can affect our body’s natural metabolism, which in turn contributes to weight gain over time. On average UK employees spend more time at their desk (6.8 hours) than they do in bed (6.4 hours) – much of this time is spent sitting, often in an uncomfortable or unsupportive chair. Stand up desks have been shown to be highly effective at helping employees to reduce the time spent sedentary at work, in turn enhancing their overall wellbeing, supporting the body’s ability to break down fat. Some desks can even be lowered and heightened to allow flexibility, enabling employees to spend some time sitting and more time standing.
Encourage outdoor activity during breaks
Employees in the UK spend less time outside than prisoners – who must have at least one hour of suitable exercise outdoors daily’ according to UN guidelines. Many feel as though they must work through their breaks to stay on top of their workload or get on in an increasingly competitive workplace – meaning workers spend even less time outdoors. One study found that they had three main frustrations with their current work life – lack of fresh air, insufficient light and an absence of indoor plants. These three key issues deliver firm directives for company bosses, who can easily and inexpensively improve job satisfaction through encouraging time away from the desk, bringing in real plants (which coincidentally improves air quality) and opening up windows.
Ambius’ study also explored personalisation in the workplace. Although it’s not immediately obvious as a method of improving wellbeing, having an inspiring and comforting workspace that reminds them of home has been shown to motivate and please employees. 21% of employees surveyed said their company had an active policy prohibiting any kind of personalisation, but over half explained that the opportunity to do so would make them less stressed and more productive – meaning this approach could be counterproductive given the results of the research. Send out a memo encouraging employees to introduce a few personal items to their surroundings – perhaps a photograph of family, a potted plant or a nice cushion for their chair.
Make healthier choices available
When buying in food, snacks or treats consider healthy yet tasty ways to engage employees, such as low sugar cakes, fresh fruit and wholegrain pasta and wraps. For larger companies stocking up the sandwich trolley or canteen with lower calorie meals and alternatives to the usual stodgy, starchy bread-based lunches, cakes and crisps could go a long way to tempting health conscious employees to indulge without consuming too many calories throughout the day.