By Nicola Davenport
If you’re a smaller business, you might think adopting health and wellbeing measures for your staff is a good idea, but way out of your league. Afterall, it’s only large companies that can access resources like health checks, gym sessions and stress relief counsellors, right?
Wrong! Sole traders and the smallest of businesses are among those who have signed up to our Healthy Workplaces programme: proof you don’t have to be a multinational with a dedicated HR department to care about keeping your team’s physical and mental health on the right track.
So if time and budget are what’s standing between you and a healthier, more productive team, consider these low-cost, low-effort wellbeing steps that can make a big difference.
ACTIVITY: Exercise boosts motivation so encouraging your teams to get active will help boost their productivity. Some organisations offer a mileage rate not just for car travel, but also for miles completed on foot, by bike or by public transport. Anything you can do to get your team moving will help improve THEIR health and thus YOUR bottom line. TRY: Walking meetings. A stroll round the block while you have that one-on-one will stretch limbs, reduce stress and can help spark creativity.
FITNESS TRACKERS: Some companies hand out wearable tech gadgets so staff can log their steps, heart rate and calories burned. If that’s beyond your budget, you can access some excellent free fitness tracker apps online. MapMyFitness allows you to log mileage whether you’re cycling, running or simply walking the dog. StepJockey logs stair climbing with rewards to incentivise activity. TRY: Sign up for a Merton on the Move team challenge competing for prizes against other local companies and organisations.
HEALTHY EATING: Do you have an in-house vending machine or regularly provide biscuits or doughnuts for team meetings? Encourage staff to hit their 5-a-day target by offering energising fruit or healthy snacks rather than junk that can trigger digestive problems and sluggishness. TRY: Jaspers Catering in Mitcham offer a healthy snack box that they can install in your office to prevent staff reaching for sweeties when the 3pm munchies strike.
STRESS: The largest companies can afford in-house health centres, with counsellors ready to offer advice on issues (work or personal) that are affecting the workplace performance of employees. An alternative approach is to help avoid stress in the first place. Check out NICE guidance on how to build a supportive work environment to help limit issues such as anxiety and depression in the workplace. TRY: Ensure your staff know how to spot the signs of stress in themselves and colleagues by posting links to information on noticeboards or your intranet. The NHS website offers helpful advice on simple stressbusting measures, as well as a quiz to gauge individual wellbeing levels.
SMOKING: Smokers not only suffer more health problems than non-smokers, they are also less productive, so it’s in your interests as an employer to encourage your staff to cut down or quit. The good news is, there are free services available in the borough to support them. TRY: Ban smoking from anywhere near your office so staff are forced to go further than the front door for a smoking break, and make your team aware of Merton’s LiveWell smoking cessation service.
Find loads more resources on building your workplace’s wellness credentials on our Healthy Workplaces Resources Page
- Get in touch with our Healthy Workplaces Consultant Nicola Davenport for information and help on how to win official accreditation for your business under the London Healthy Workplace Charter
- Follow us on twitter @HealthyMerton for ongoing healthy workplace inspiration