Working in an office can be hard work and can be hard on your body. Sitting in front of computer screens for the majority of a 40-hour workweek can cause health problems of many varieties if these problems aren’t in some way mitigated. The good news is there are plenty of things that employees can do for themselves in their offices to head off some of the common health risks, some off their own initiative and some at the suggestion or urging of management. Health insurance benefits on the other hand can be a catch-all for employee health risks at the office, giving employees a way to handle issues as they arise.
Many employee benefits that include health insurance packages can be tailored to fit individual needs when they are required. Of course, from an employee perspective, being able to visit the doctor and get solutions to health issues provides great peace of mind and can prevent serious illness or injury with regular check-ups and health monitoring services. A good health plan plays a role in mitigating preventable office injuries and sicknesses that would greatly impact productivity.
Health insurance works best when employees choose (or are forced, by injury or sickness) to use it, and that isn’t always the case. So can employers do more to help their staff mitigate the common injuries and health concerns that comes with a sedentary work environment?
Here are four alternative employee benefit ideas that can help:
1. Encourage Annual Leave (and be flexible)
Most offices offer some kind of paid time-off system to employees, but many still report that they feel guilty about missing work or otherwise feel like they can’t miss work unless they’re dying. It’s difficult to overcome the spread of disease in an enclosed office, especially if you’ve done everything else right as a manager to motivate workers and make them feel at home and happy at their posts. Make sure your employees know that they are encouraged to take time off to get healthy when sick, or to simply unplug. A professional, motivated team won’t overuse a generous annual leave system.
2. Sponsor Company Sports and Social Groups
Team sports events for adults aren’t for everyone but employers can sponsor these leagues or groups and encourage as many people as possible to take part to promote team-building outside the office and create a way for more employees to remain active outside of work. Good examples of this would be sponsoring the gear and registrations in football or tag rugby leagues or covering the entry fee for all employees in a 5k walk or run and also scheduling a ‘Couch to 5k’ programme in the lead up to it so as to include as many people in the event as possible.
3. Support Active Commuting
An employer can show that wellness is part of their culture and do their bit for the environment by supporting activities that reduce the amount of cars on the road. As a starting point, incentives could be offered to staff for carpooling or availing of public transport, both good for the environment but perhaps not world class in terms of health benefits. Take it a step further by encouraging people to cycle (or to walk/run) to work more often by providing bike storage facilities as well as showers and changing areas. Not everyone will be able to bike to work, of course, but having the option could help incentivise those that are on the fence.
4. An Engaging and Inclusive Wellness Programme
The key for this alternative employee benefit is the adjectives: engaging and inclusive. If you set up a wellness programme that no one uses, it’s probably because no one sees the benefits of using your system. Talk to your employees and find out what their primary health concerns are, develop a system of accountability and reward that helps break habits, establish new habits, or just remind employees of their health goals, and implement a system that works for your workplace. This and the other points above are all ways to ensure that employee benefits are being supplemented with a culture of health and wellness for everyone at the workplace.
Author Bio: Ben Renner is a writer, editor, and website manager living and working in Denver, Colorado. He manages the Employee Communications Council (ECC), a blog site dedicated to providing cutting-edge information and news about the Human Resources industry. Follow the ECC on Facebook and LinkedIn.
Yours in health,
P.S I love talking about health and wellbeing so drop me a line to discuss any of the above. I'd be happy to support your business with their wellness objectives.
Contact me directly with any questions you may have: firstname.lastname@example.org
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