With the winter solstice upon us, and the end of financial year just around the corner, this is a particularly busy time for Australian workplaces. It’s also the dreaded flu season, when employee wellbeing takes a hit as absenteeism rates skyrocket.
Even when employees soldier on through their illness, their energy levels are often depleted, interfering with productivity levels and impacting others around them.
So, it’s important to have a clear policy in place and ensure your people are fully aware of medical leave procedures at these times. For example, employees should be encouraged to stay at home when they have a cold or flu to minimise the risk of illness spreading.
Embed employee wellbeing into your workplace culture
Flu season aside, winter is as good a time as any to beef up your employee wellbeing programme and make it truly meaningful for your people.
For a workplace wellness programme to be successful, you must ensure your initiatives are readily available to everyone on your staff. From a best practice perspective, it’s important to regularly review your initiatives, and seek input from employees regarding which initiatives are valued and which are not.
Make it meaningful
For wellness programmes to work, they have to be implemented from the bottom up, rather than the top down. So, instead of a HR manager enforcing something that employees may not care about, set up the mechanisms that enable employees to drive wellness initiatives.
In this way, employees will take ownership and choose activities they really want to do.
For instance, instead of giving everyone a gym membership, encourage your people to identify a driver for their health and wellbeing. It may be related to improving their financial wellbeing; or, perhaps it may be related to weight loss and healthy eating. Or, it may be around leaving work on time to spend more quality time with their family.
And, if you want your employees to take advantage of fitness-related perks, then make sure you give them the flexibility to go to the gym before, during, or after work. For instance, having clean and hygienic change rooms encourages employees to cycle or run to work, or use their lunch break to exercise should they wish.
Ultimately it comes down to allowing individuals in the team to take responsibility for their health, rather than imposing it on them.
Focus on sleep
When it comes to employee wellness, employers have also been waking up to the importance of their employees getting a good night’s sleep. Just as important to health as nutrition and exercise, well-rested employees perform better.
However, according to a new study in the journal SLEEP, published by Oxford University Press, too many full-time Australian employees are heavily sleep deprived. And it’s a growing problem. A lack of sleep is costing the Australian economy more than $66 billion in lost productivity. It’s also a major underlying factor in workplace injuries, car accidents and illnesses; including heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
Of course, you can’t force your employees to go to bed at a reasonable hour, but you can take a number of other practical measures. These include:
- Enforcing a Clear Separation between Home and Work
In our always-connected, always-on world, it’s often difficult to disconnect. But if there isn’t a clear separation between office and home life, it can be difficult for employees to switch off, causing them to sleep poorly.
Set rules to discourage employees sending emails after hours, whilst promoting a workplace culture that affirms going home on time.
- Let the Sunlight In!
Natural sunlight can boost energy levels throughout the day. It also improves an individual’s ability to sleep well at night because natural sunlight assists in regulating the body’s sleep cycle.
If you don’t have windows in your office, encourage employees to get up and walk outside for a few minutes throughout the day. Soaking up some sun can make a big difference.
- Run Wellbeing Workshops
Consider putting in place training to educate employees on the importance of a good night’s rest, how to sleep well regularly, and the actions they need to take to remedy sleep disorders.
- Offer Financial Wellbeing Programmes
It may well be financial worries that are keeping your employees awake at night. As we mentioned in an earlier post, research shows that financial stress not only negatively impacts employees, it costs you as their employer. Financially stressed employees are likely to take more time off and be less productive.
So, think about offering support for your people to cope with financial stress. For instance, offering financial education tailored to your employees’ different life stages.
In addition, as part of your employee benefits program, you can negotiate special rates for home loans, utilities, or loans to support key life events such as getting married or starting a family. By helping your people stretch their incomes further, you can provide financial wellbeing benefits that offer practical and direct support.
Remember, employee wellness is a journey, and you have to value employee health and wellness beyond the realms of a HR policy. Embed wellness initiatives into your business, and make it an integral part of your culture by continuously exploring new ways to better meet the health and wellness needs of your employees.
Launch your employee wellbeing initiatives, with Flare
Consider using Flare’s employee Financial Wellbeing services to enhance your employees’ overall health and wellbeing, whilst driving improved workforce participation and engagement. With Flare, you can also give your employees access to financial products with attractive rates; all whilst helping them to better manage their overall financial health.
Book a free demo to see for yourself how our platform can help you become an employer of choice by leading with best-in-class employee wellbeing initiatives.
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