The average adult spends 90,000 hours of his or her life at work. If that number doesn’t seem outrageous to you, it gets crazier: 90,000 hours equates to more than ten straight years. For most of us, that time equates to a mix of frustrations and accomplishments that make it all worth it. However, for some of us, workplace wellness isn’t prioritized in our companies. Some workers breathe unclean air and work in an environment where vigilant hygiene is secondary. Some workers eat less-than-nutritious meals due to cost and access from work and spend too many hours sitting. For many of us, health issues become a price we pay to have a stable job.
As an office manager, you have the potential to influence all business leaders and decision-makers, make powerful suggestions, and help advocate for the health and wellness of everyone who works in your office.
Here are 6 strategies to help you make space for workplace wellness:
1. Evaluate Your Impact on Employee Nutrition
It isn’t your job to feed the team, but you can help advocate for proper nutrition and a healthy atmosphere around snack and meal times in your office. Here’s how:
Bring in Premium Resources for Free
It isn’t appropriate or necessary for an employer to direct employee lifestyles. However, you can host free lunch-and-learns, seminars, and access to events that do center on the lifestyle aspect of your employees’ jobs. Bring in a nutritionist or dietician for a workshop or cover the cost of 1:1 sessions once per quarter.
Organize Smarter Options
You can’t uproot and move your office so that it’s next door to the salad place and the juice bar. Your team is limited to the foods they bring along, or the foods they can access nearby. Consider creating partnerships with some of the healthy restaurants in your city and cover the cost for them to deliver to your office, even if they’re normally out of range. They’ll love the loyal business, and you’ll love bringing better options to your front door.
Make it Easy for Them to Do What They Do
Many of your employees already have a healthy food routine at home. Make sure your office refrigerator(s), microwave(s), and other appliances are clean, functional, and accessible to make bringing a healthy lunch easier than ever.
Feed Them Healthy Foods
Many companies offer food stipends, snack cabinets, catered lunches, or other nutritional provisions throughout the course of a year. By doing the research and partnering with sustainable, health-focused vendors and providers, you can ensure that any food provided by the company is health-conscious.
2. Center Hygiene All Year Long
Whether we’re in the midst of a total global health crisis, or just the usual cold and flu season, it’s important to prioritize proper public and home hygiene. Encourage your employees to use better hygiene at home by providing smart resources beyond the “wash your hands” reminder.
Beyond the posted signs and circulated resources, brainstorm ways to make hygiene easier and more automatic during the workday. Offer sanitizer stations, keep tissues refreshed and accessible, and make sure that a proper soap is always, always available.
Hygiene isn’t just about bodies -- it’s about keeping our areas clean, too. Make sure that the cleaning crew or custodial employees who maintain hygienic standards in your office are well-trained, appreciated, and equipped. Make sure they’re doing more than emptying trash cans -- the entire space should be disinfected often to prevent the spread of illness.
3. Reclaim Wellness Sanctuaries Inside and Outside
Your office can either be a breeding ground for feeling unwell, or a sanctuary for wellness. Converting your workplace into a wellness sanctuary won’t be as expensive, unproductive, or unnecessary as you think! In a world where more people are leaving their office jobs for remote work, workplaces must become more agile, home-like, comfortable, and welcoming. We must evolve our workplaces into something that provides a needed complement to the remote future and that includes homing, nesting, and reimagining workspaces to serve more of a purpose than the work itself.
Outdoor wellness sanctuaries might look like a small corner of your campus or outdoor office space that can be used for fitness, a track or path nearby for walking, an outdoor setting to work and breathe clean air, or a peaceful space to take a 15-minute break alone, outdoors.
Indoor wellness sanctuaries might be enclosed spaces for people to work quietly and reset when they’re not feeling 100%, cleaner and larger bathrooms, and kitchen spaces.
4. Keep an Eye on Ergonomics
Posture is personal. While there are best practices for resetting one’s posture -- like raising your chin, tucking your pelvic bone inward, and keeping your feet flat on the floor -- there’s more ergonomic work to be done.
- See what you can do to outfit more ergonomically supportive chairs in your office.
- Offer spaces for people to sit or stand flexibly if you can.
- Provide monitors and keyboards that help better align your employees’ seated posture.
- Above all, allow and encourage your employees to bring the pillows, cushions, and accessories they need to feel comfortable at work.
Ergonomics isn’t just about the alignment of the spine, although that’s hugely important. A greater focus on an ergonomic set up will keep your employees more focused, energized, engaged, and alert throughout the day, too.
5. Prioritize Mental Wellness at Work
Speaking of, it’s important to remember that wellness extends beyond the physical. We must do more to protect the bodily health and safety of our employees, but mental health is equally or perhaps more dire. Unhappy, disgruntled, and frustrated employees may just need a change of focus or, in some cases, of change of employment, However, true mental health issues extend beyond how we feel at work, or about work. Among your team, you may have someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide, someone who battles depression every morning just to get dressed for the day, or who has an invisible condition that you’ll never have the chance to take into account. Encourage the following in your workplace:
- Create an open, safe environment for dialogue
- Be a friend, even in a business atmosphere
- Keep friendships appropriate and avoid gossip or drama
- Make sure anxious, quiet, or reserved people are heard
- Make sure to check on anyone who is absent often
- Offer resources that are modern and inclusive to all
- If you see something, say something (respectfully…)
- Never, ever assume you know what someone is going through
Modeling these behaviors, and encouraging them in others, is the best way to manage general mental wellness in your office. For persons with specific mental health concerns, it’s important to provide resources, offer unbiased support, and make space for life to infiltrate work. It will infiltrate either way.
6. Invest in Wellness Programming
There are vendors who provide wellness programming in the workplace. These programs aim to help inform employees on the best health practices at work and at home. Often, experts will be brought in to help improve the overall condition of your team’s physical and mental wellness and help you to create wellness benefits and perks that extend beyond the basics. While there is much that an Office Manager can do to push for these programs themselves, it might be helpful to bring in a team of experts to focus on a specific area of need. It’s important to remember that you aren’t alone in advocating for the good health of your entire employee base -- there are resources for you and your team!
Workplace Wellness Shouldn’t Be a Sensitive Topic
Wellness isn’t too sensitive to discuss at work -- it’s too sensitive not to discuss at work. Of course, your Human Resources team will prefer that you handle things a certain way. Avoid private health information or assumptions about your employees’ health and lifestyles. Instead, keep an open mind and an open door for questions and concerns, offer unbiased and trustworthy resources for your team, and maintain a culture of wellness in your workplace. When you do, employees will feel confident to self-advocate and commune on the topic of health, safety, and happiness. That open dialogue will get you exactly where you want to be.
Looking for a way to manage your workplace more efficiently? Check out what Eden’s Workplace Management Platform can do for your office.