Employee health remains a concern for company leaders, as many employers are continuing their work-from-home directives. While working from home lowers the chances of contracting COVID-19, social isolation can put employees at risk of other conditions, such as stress, depression, anxiety, and obesity per the American Psychological Association (APA). Many employers are supporting their employees by promoting wellness and implementing wellness programs that support mental, emotional, physical, and even financial health.
Helping employees maintain their wellness has a positive impact on their overall health, happiness and productivity levels. Additionally, there is a financial impact on companies, as employee wellness means lower costs, especially when it comes to workers’ compensation. Here are some considerations for how to keep employees healthy throughout the pandemic and beyond.
Stress and Mental Health Extends Beyond the Employee
People experience a variety of stress factors that are harmful over time if they are not addressed. Those in the “sandwich generation” are particularly at risk, having constant pressure of worrying about and taking care of aging parents while making sure their children are staying well, as they try to adjust to remote learning environments and the uncertainty that comes with not seeing their friends and classmates. Add to that the holidays and a pandemic, and stress levels can elevate quickly, often lasting a long time. There are ways employers can help by:
- Offering flexible work schedules
- Promoting vacation and time away from work
- Discussing wellness and offering days off for mental health
- Building camaraderie by recognizing employees and celebrating individual and company success
- Scheduling company-wide Zoom meetings to remind employees they are not alone
- Provide online options for employees to talk privately with a counsellor
- Introducing meditation apps and offering online yoga classes
Train Employees on Financial Management
With lockdowns, curfews and closures, the pandemic has taken a lot away from people. Many have turned to online shopping, expensive purchases and more take-out meals for happiness. Unconscious spending could lead to financial burdens and added pressure, so offering employees a seminar on financial management may help them remain conscious about their spending and prevent them from racking up substantial debt.
Other benefits include personal and financial growth. Employees who learn about investing, for example, can grow their wealth. The financial knowledge gained is vast and can be empowering for employees to know that they have a lot more control over their finances than perhaps they ever imagined.
Encourage Healthy Habits
Sleep is important for a number of reasons; it gives your brain the time it needs to recharge for optimal learning, retention of information and memory recall,it helps to prevent high blood pressure, protecting against heart disease and stroke, and it improves one’s outlook on life.
Sleep gives your brain time to process your emotions. When people don’t get enough of it, negative emotions can creep in and often outweigh more positive feelings. According to WebMD, studies have shown that chronic sleep deprivation and insomnia can increase the chances of depression, anxiety and panic disorder by 500%.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an eating plan that includes a variety of fresh and healthy foods can help people manage their weight. It emphasises fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products along with lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts. Consuming foods low in saturated fats, trans fats, salt and refined sugar are advised along with staying within daily calorie limits.
There are so many health benefits associated with regular exercise, some better known than others. Overall, exercise helps people achieve and retain a high quality of life and can increase the chances of living longer as it reduces the risk of heart disease and some cancers.
Stress-reducing hormones help to improve one’s mood and mental health long after exercise takes place, and studies show that exercise improves sexual health and aids in better sleep.
Exercise helps the aging population maintain sharp cognitive skills as it stimulates the body to release proteins and other chemicals needed for the brain to function properly. In addition, exercise strengthens muscles and bones which can reduce the risks of falls.
Plus exercise is fun. It brings people together which leads to a feeling of connectedness and greater happiness.
Smart employers know that committing to employee wellness has business benefits as well. They are protecting their most important asset, maintaining productivity levels and keeping expenses down. For more information or to learn other ways to keep your workers’ compensation costs down, contact us today.