Five tips to support employee health and wellbeing when returning to the workplace
Check out our top tips for supporting the health and wellbeing of employees as they transition back into the workplace
As COVID-19 pandemic restrictions begin to ease, employees are gradually making the transition back into the workplace. At the top of everyone’s agenda is health and wellbeing and creating a healthy and supportive work environment has never been more important. In addition to hand washing and safe hygiene practices, what else can workplaces do to support employees to make healthy lifestyle choices whilst at work?
We have put together our top tips for supporting the health and wellbeing of your employees not only now, but beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. These tips have been guided by the National Workplace Health and Wellbeing Community of Practice (WHWCP) alliance which HWWA is a member of.
1. Supportive Senior Leadership
It starts at the top. Senior management support is crucial to the success of any workplace health and wellbeing program. Leading by example and having senior management prioritise health and wellbeing will encourage your employees to do the same.
Lead from the front and raise awareness of your workplace’s current health and wellbeing policies and practices - also ask yourself if there are any gaps. For example, does your workplace have alcohol guidelines regarding how alcohol is served at workplace social club events? If not, check out Strategies for Workplace Functions and Events and our Fundraising, gifts and rewards policy. Both resources highlight how small changes can make a big difference to the health and wellbeing of employees. Although it may not feel like it now, it won’t long before the social club calendar is back in full swing.
2. Employee consultation
Communicate. Talk. Engage. Let your employees know you are interested in hearing from them. Find out what health and wellbeing topics they are interested in, and what they are less likely to engage in. Reflect with staff on what went well while employees were working remotely, and what they would like to retain. You can then tailor your strategies accordingly. Employees are much more likely to participate in program activities if they had a chance to provide input.
3. Flexibility and building a supportive work environment
Maintaining a supportive work environment doesn’t need to be costly or time consuming. Making it easier for employees to actively commute to work by providing end of trip facilities; encouraging staff to take a break from sedentary behaviour (e.g. by encouraging walking meetings and stretching breaks); and providing healthy food options are just a few ways workplaces can create an environment that support employees to make healthier lifestyle choices whilst at work.
Increase your workplace’s flexibility and check out the following resources for helpful tips:
4. Healthy habits
In addition to social distancing and hand washing, support the health and wellbeing of your employees by promoting healthy lifestyle choices when it comes to smoking, nutrition, alcohol and physical activity. Not only will these healthier lifestyle choices help to guard off chronic disease but they will also help to build immunity against infection.
Whilst some pre-COVID 19 workplace activities may not be suitable during social distancing (e.g. the communal standing desk) there are still many ways workplaces can promote health and wellbeing. Instead of running club training sessions for a community marathon, why not try virtual step challenges such as the Get on Track Challenge? Or run a recipe competition where employees share photos of a healthy recipe they have made (check out these LiveLighter recipes for ideas). The bonus of these virtual activities is that employees continuing to work remotely can easily join in.
5. Importance of communication
Sing it from the rooftops! Whether it be via staff newsletters, emails, video updates or intranet notices, it is important to communicate regularly with your employees to keep them engaged and informed about health and wellbeing. Don’t forget to communicate good news stories and celebrate successes to keep employees motivated. Regular communication is especially important for remote workers. We have made it easier with our monthly Health Works Newsletter – this newsletter template includes up to date health and wellbeing information and is designed so that workplaces can customise it and distribute to employees. Subscribe here to receive the Health Works Newsletter template each month.
For more useful resources and tips on how to support the health and wellbeing of your employees, check out the following:
- National Factsheet - Supporting worker wellbeing during pandemic recovery and transition back to the workplace
- Blog – Our best resources for a healthier workplace
- Video – How to create a healthier workplace
- Interactive Tool – Workplace Health Check
- Blog - Six steps to supporting employee health and wellbeing through change
Perhaps your workplace hasn’t addressed health and wellbeing before, or used to in the past but the program needs a re-boot. Get started now and view our Top 10 Quick Wins, Online Coordinator Training and Workplace Health Check.
What can your workplace do to help support employees adjust back into “the new normal” work routine? Get started on building a supportive and healthier workplace today.
Other useful links
- Beyond Blue – How managers can lead the way to health work environments
- Beyond Blue – Three Covid 19 learning’s that can be taken back to work
- Safe Work Australia – Covid 19 Information for workplaces
- R U OK? Guide for Workplaces and (resource) How to ask staff if they are ok
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