A healthy worker is a happy worker. That is a fairly common maxim, but it is one with a great deal of truth to it. People who are fit and have a good diet are generally happier, which in turn makes them better at their jobs.
In fact, Thomsons Online Benefits managing director Chris Bruce just told HR Magazine: "Employees who regularly exercise are better at dealing with stressful situations and also feel energised. If you do this well customers can feel that energy in their interactions with your staff."
Mr Bruce therefore "passionately believes" that keeping your workforce fit and healthy is one of the duties of an employer. However, this is easier said than done. You cannot just will your workforce into being healthier; often it takes a lot of effort to do so. However, you can certainly help them in a number of ways.
Improve their work diet
Does your office have a canteen? If so, what does it serve? You should make sure that processed, fatty and sugary foods are kept to an absolute minimum, while healthy foods are given priority. Otherwise, you will be encouraging unhealthy eating in your workforce.
Similarly, you should get rid of any vending machines your employees are using to get sweet treats from. If the temptation to eat unhealthily is there, most people will go for it. You have to remove unhealthy food from your workplace altogether.
Instead of vending machines, you could offer your employees free fruit. There are plenty of companies that can deliver this to you on a daily or weekly basis; you could even negotiate a deal with local market vendors. People will be less upset about you taking away their unhealthy snacks if you provide them with free food as a compromise.
Health and fitness training
Your workers are not going to learn how to eat healthily and keep themselves in good shape on their own. You will need to motivate them yourself by organising some training sessions to promote fitness.
This could come in the form of exercise lessons, or classes on how to plan a healthy diet. Either way, you will be helping your employees fill in the gaps in their knowledge about staying healthy and avoiding habits that can lead to weight gain and medical issues, as well as general unhappiness.
Think about transport
How do your employees get to work? Most people tend to drive in, but this is no good for their levels of fitness. You should try to encourage them to stretch their legs and walk or cycle in.
One of the ways in which you can do this is simple: make sure there is a shower at work they can use. Nobody wants to start the day sweaty, so a shower might be all that is needed to get people cycling or even jogging to work each morning.
You could also implement a cycling scheme or something similar, allowing people to borrow bikes directly from the office. This will take away the financial issues with cycling to work, encouraging more people to improve their fitness in this way.