Why Leaders Need to Create a Healthy Workplace Culture
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The pandemic has changed everything — for companies, for leaders and for employees. At the height of the pandemic, we were trapped indoors, our work life bled into our home life, parents juggled virtual school with Zoom meetings, and employees faced the added stress of not know how the pandemic would affect their lives and loved ones. In this time of struggle, many companies have shown their true values in how they have responded to the challenges faced by their employees. And for their staff, it has become a moment of realizing and reassessing what they expect from their company.
Related: What 3 Companies Are Doing to Keep Employees Healthy
What employees want
Today, 80% of employees say that having an employer who cares about their health and well-being will affect their future career choice. Business leaders are therefore faced with a major challenge: how to support employees in a radically changed work environment where work priorities and preferences have changed.
Mercer recently surveyed 2,000 American workers to see what they really want out of the pandemic. They found that for low-wage employees, the top three concerns included covering monthly expenses, mental/emotional health, and physical health and fitness. For high-wage employees, the top factors were health and fitness, work-life balance, and personal safety.
The key to take away? All of these main concerns relate to well-being. In the past, most employee concerns were about income, management, commute time, and job performance expectations. Since the pandemic, however, employees have been looking for companies that not only offer a living wage, but go above and beyond with benefits that help employees live better lives.
Related: 8 Ways to Foster an Employee Wellness Environment
The Benefits of Giving Employees What They Want
Recent research suggests that organizations that invest in the health of their workforce benefit from increased performance, and a number of case studies show that companies that value the well-being of their employees exceed their targets and are able to deliver approximately three times more shareholder returns. Additionally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has found that healthy employees are happier, calmer, more engaged, sleep better and get sick less often, leading to a 20% increase in levels of national productivity.
Prioritizing these initiatives ensures that a company cares and eases the path so that people can achieve a shared goal of accomplishment; and organizations that choose to engage in a health-focused culture can reap a variety of positive impacts. Here we look at a range of benefits specific to companies investing in the nutrition and healthy eating habits of their employees:
Attracting and retaining talent: According to a 2018 study, a lunch break can improve job satisfaction, efficiency, and the likelihood that employees will recommend their workplace to others as a pleasant place to work.
Reduce stress: We’ve all experienced that horrible mix of hunger and anger, often referred to as “hungry.” Studies have shown that what you eat can help your brain produce chemicals to promote better sleep, reduce anxiety and increase feelings of calm.
Reduce healthcare costs: Healthcare costs are expected to reach 6.5% in 2022, due to delayed treatment resulting from Covid-19, mental health issues caused by the added stress of our current climate and because the health of the average employee declined during the pandemic. Companies that invest in the nutrition of their employees can reduce long-term health care costs through preventative measures.
Improve productivity: Skipping breakfast decreases productivity by reducing short-term memory and cognitive performance. Additionally, those who eat unhealthy foods are 66% more likely to experience reduced productivity.
Improve performances: The brain uses about 20% of an employee’s daily calorie intake, and studies show that eating more fruits and vegetables can lead to more happiness, life satisfaction and well-being.
As organizations grapple with an ever-changing employment landscape, one thing remains constant: keeping your staff connected and supported – no matter where, when, or how they work – is key to creating a happy work culture. and healthy. An organization is only as good as the people it employs. Organizations that want to survive and thrive in 2022 and beyond will need to respond accordingly, looking beyond financial goals to consider the needs of all of their employees. If you are what you eat, companies are the people and practices they employ.