How to Reduce Sick Days by Encouraging a Healthy Workplace

Business.com / HR Solutions / Last Modified: February 22, 2017

Loss of production due to absenteeism is reported to cost U.S. companies as much as $227 billion each year. Here's how to help that.

It is becoming increasingly obvious to businesses around the world that employee health is not only beneficial to the employees but also to the employers.

Reports from Forbes, the Integrated Benefits Institute, Healthways and more have shown that employee illnesses are accounting for huge losses in productivity.

Loss of production due to absenteeism is reported by Forbes to cost U.S. companies as much as $227 billion each year.

While that is spread out over thousands of companies and can be easy to dismiss on a personal level, when tallied, it makes for an impressive figure and one that can and should be changed.

Related Article:Is Your Job Killing You? How to Stay Healthy at Work

How the Average Workplace Affects Employee Health

The average employee is not satisfied with their work environment or their position. A recent poll conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management showed that only 37 percent of all respondents were very satisfied with their job. The remainder were either somewhat satisfied or completely unsatisfied.

Dissatisfaction can lead to depression and a destabilization of the immune system. In other words, the emotional state of your employee can result in a weakened immune system. Employers may not be able to make all their employees happy, but they can take steps to improve the working environment for them.

About 35 percent of all adults in the U.S. are considered to be obese. This disease greatly hinders circulation, which is essential to protecting the body from infection. In essence, it contributes to a greatly weakened immune system. Furthermore, obesity is the leading contributor to poor heart health, which is the primary cause of death in the United States.

Not all employees have to be obese or dissatisfied with their jobs in order to suffer from weakened immune systems. Simply possessing poor dietary habits or not taking the time to exercise regularly can dramatically weaken their body’s defenses.

How Employers Can Improve Their Workplace

Taking time to make improvements to your workplace and make it a healthier environment for your employees will save you money. Absenteeism costs you in a few different ways:

  • Loss of productivity
  • Decrease in workplace morale
  • Use of sick days
  • Cost of medical coverage
  • Loss of customer service due to employee shortage

All of these create a drag on your bottom line that you may not see right away. However, you can do something about it. Improving your employees’ health not only allows them to live longer, but it creates happier, more productive employees.

Related Article:De-stress the Workplace: 5 Ways to Foster Employee Well-being

Here are some ways you can change your work environment to produce healthier employees:

Change Available Foods:

Many companies provide food occasionally for their employees as a way to reward or motivate them. Often, these foods include pizza, doughnuts, ice cream or something else unhealthy. Serving meals that are healthy and well balanced can help your employees to develop better eating habits.

Encourage Healthy Eating:

If you really want to change your employees’ health for the long term, then you will have to institute means of developing habitual healthy eating. You can do this by providing employee discounts at health foods stores or coupons for healthy products. You can also start healthy eating clubs or use dietary apps to assist your employees in changing their eating habits and encouraging them to eat better.

Create a Place for Employees to Exercise:

If you have space, you can turn part of your business into a place to exercise. Provide your employees with an area they can use to work out. You don’t have to offer anything extravagant to make a difference. Simply setting up some basic exercise equipment, including workout mats, exercise balls, and some dumbbells can be all you need to change the way your employees live.

Use Meets and Retreats as a Way to Encourage Healthy Lifestyles:

Anytime you have your employees together for a special meeting or you create a company getaway, you can encourage healthy living habits. Use these times to discuss improvements employees have made in their lives and encourage them to keep it up. You can also schedule retreats at health spas or gyms.

Related Article:The Importance of Self-Care for Productivity in an Office Environment

Employee Response

Not everyone is going to respond to your health improvement efforts in a way you would like. Some will resist them completely, determined to stick to their old ways of doing things. Do not expect everyone to conform, but at the same time, do not give up on your employees and their health just because you encounter some initial resistance. Over time, sound health improvement policies will become more accepted and will prove successful.

While many people do oppose a change in their lives, once they recognize the benefits of some sorts of change, they will be more open to it. Showcase those employees who are making positive changes to encourage others to make a difference in their own lives. Your business and your employees will be better for it.

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