It’s been difficult to ignore the news about the coronavirus spreading across the globe. While people tend to have varying opinions about its severity, there has been at least one positive factor to come about as a result of the virus; people are being encouraged to wash their hands more frequently.
Meanwhile about 56,000 people die from the flu each year. About 60% of people go to work when they’re sick. It’s no wonder so many viruses and illnesses seem to spread like wildfire.
But, while people are so focused on some of these major illnesses, it’s easy to ignore some of the lesser-known health concerns, especially in the workplace. Unfortunately, ignoring these concerns can lead to even more employees getting sick or getting injured somehow. There are many benefits to keeping employees healthy, including improved productivity and performance.
Whether you own your own business, you’re a manager or an employee concerned for your own safety and health, it’s important to understand some of the health issues that are often overlooked, so you can take precautionary steps to prevent them.
Protecting Eyes and Exercise
Over one third of American adults are considered to be obese, and one of the major factors that plays into obesity is a sedentary lifestyle. If an employee’s job requires them to sit at a desk for the majority of the day, they aren’t getting in the activity their body needs to stay fit and healthy. Obesity can lead to issues like:
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure/stroke
If your employees develop health issues due to obesity or inactivity, they could become less productive, fatigued, and even start to miss work because of their illnesses or to get treatment for their ailments.
Another lesser-known concern in the workplace is eye health. This connects somewhat to a sedentary lifestyle in the office, because it has to do with employees looking at computers all day. Computers, cell phones, and many other electronic devices emit something called ‘blue light.’ Unfortunately, this kind of light can be damaging to the eyes. Your employees might start to feel more fatigued or have frequent headaches. Major companies like Amazon and Google have on-campus fitness centers that their employees can use. But, even smaller businesses can promote health and fitness by encouraging employees to take breaks and get outside, or providing gym memberships as part of a benefits package.
People with glasses can get special lenses made to block out blue light and keep their eyes protected. As a business, however, you can do your part by investing in blue light blockers or filters for the computer screens your workers use. It’s a simple fix that can make a big difference.
Battling Bacteria in the Bathroom and Beyond
Bacteria is everywhere. It’s unavoidable. But, there are some precautions your business can take to keep things as sanitary as possible. For starters, don’t wait to keep things sanitized until you notice a problem. If there’s a foul smell coming from the sink(s) in your employee bathroom or a staff kitchen, it could be the result of bacteria growth that needs to be cleaned out. Regularly cleaning bathroom and kitchen areas or showing your employees how to do it can limit harmful growth and keep people healthier.
It’s also a good idea to have both handwashing stations and hand sanitizer in your employee bathrooms. Hand sanitizer isn’t a replacement for soap. Washing your hands helps to remove:
The friction you use when you clean your hands with soap and water makes it a very effective way to get rid of dead skin and all of the bacteria that goes with it. When you simply pour some hand sanitizer into your palm and rub it in, it’s not getting rid of as much harmful bacteria.
That isn’t to say hand sanitizer is bad. If you use one with at least 60% alcohol, you can get rid of a lot of harmful bacteria. But, you should only use sanitizer as a supplement to hand washing.
Wiping surfaces down with disinfectant spray or even doing a deep cleaning with bleach on the floors can help to keep your business safe and sanitized. In these times of cold and flu viruses, keeping things as clean as possible is a great preventative measure.
Creating a Workplace Wellness Program
It’s important to prioritize the health of your employees. Unhealthy employees aren’t as motivated, and they’re more likely to take time off. Lost productivity due to employees missing work for health reasons costs $24.2 billion across the US among professionals. So, when you invest in your employees’ health, you’re also investing in the success and longevity of your own business.
One of the best ways to show your employees you care about their health is to develop a workplace wellness program. In it, you can cover some of the lesser-known health concerns in the workplace, and what people can do about them. Your program can include things like providing leadership, and creating a culture of fitness around the office by swapping out snacks in the vending machines and creating ‘wellness days’ for employees to get up and get moving.
The more you think about the small things in the workplace that could have a big impact on your employees (and your business), the more you’ll realize how important it is to make positive, healthy changes to your work environment. Educate yourself and your staff as much as possible, and make a commitment within your business to promote health and wellness.
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