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What is the health of your workforce worth to you? Healthy employees don’t just take fewer sick days – they’re more productive when they’re at work, more energetic and better able to focus. They’re less likely to come to work with illnesses that infect other people, and they’re more likely to enjoy their work. Of course, health insurance is the biggest thing you can offer them – but if that’s not possible, or if you want to offer something else to make you stand out from the crowd, these are some of the other ways you can do it.

Encourage healthy choices

The best health care starts before anyone gets ill. Healthy eating and exercise are areas where employers can do more than you might expect. That could mean providing healthy options in the canteen and setting up a workplace gym, but it could be something as simple as making healthy snacks available and letting employees move around while they work. Providing fresh water employees can drink whenever they want – and being flexible about bathroom breaks so they can take advantage of it – helps them stay healthy. You can also encourage activities like cycling to work, by providing a bicycle shelter in your car park.

Highlight major health issues

The risks of developing major health problems can often be reduced if people know more about them. Some conditions can be treated much more effectively if the symptoms are spotted early. This means that distributing health information is important. You can do this through health awareness schemes, highlighting a different issue each month. Lots of charities offer free support packs and guidance to assist you with this. Before you choose each issue, be careful to find out if any of your employees have been personally affected by it and may find it distressing. You may find that some are keen to help by sharing their experiences.

Offer free health tests

Another important way to reduce the risk of serious illness is to try and detect it early when it’s more treatable. Tests for many illnesses are available, but people don’t often take them up. That may be because of the cost, or there may be other issues. For instance, although it’s standard practice for many clinics to offer STD testing, people are often embarrassed about taking it up. If it’s available through work and everyone’s getting it, no assumptions will be made about why, so a lot of the embarrassment goes away. Many tests can be conducted discreetly and easily in the workplace itself, making them much more convenient.

Provide first aid training

No matter how diligent you are, you can’t prevent all sudden health problems or workplace injuries. What you can do is decrease the risk of them becoming serious by making sure there are people on hand trained to deal with them. First aid training will prepare your workforce to tackle everything from slips and falls to heart attacks and strokes. Your employees will learn how to provide CPR and how to treat minor injuries like cuts and burns where no further help may be needed. These skills will also be useable outside the workplace, of course, so you will be doing your bit to make the general population safer.

Provide mental health support

Untreated mental health problems, especially stress caused by problems at work, have a major impact on workplace productivity, resulting in lost days and increasing the risk of several kinds of serious physical illness. One of the single biggest factors in tackling them is supportive management. It’s important for employees to know that if they’re not coping, they can say so, and people will listen. They need to know that real action will be taken to lighten the load if they’re feeling overwhelmed, and to tackle things like workplace bullying. Taking mental illness seriously and offering time off in the short term can prevent far bigger problems developing in the long term.

Supporting the health of your employees requires ongoing communication and an appreciation of their value as individuals. They bring unique things to your workplace, and your support means they can continue to give their best. From time off for doctor’s appointments to vaccination problems, the things you do to help them stay healthy also represent an investment in your organization. Recognizing your support, your employees are much more likely to stay loyal over time and to keep on delivering the best work they can.

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