Morale boosters that won’t cost you a dirham

Making a few considered changes to your company’s policies can result in healthier, happier, more productive team-members, writes Sudeshna Ghosh.

You don’t need a rocket scientist to tell you that modern-day workplaces are living health hazards, with its potent combination of performance stress; contained spaces that can be breeding grounds for germs; and the widespread over-reliance on that holy triumvirate of fast food, takeouts and caffeine — because, you know, there’s always that deadline breathing down someone’s neck!

What you might not know, however, is how introducing a few simple changes in your organisation’s health and wellness practices can result in significant longterm benefits. And no, we don’t mean the bare minimum of providing health insurance and being done with it.

Whether it is at a company policy level, or simply practices you can introduce within your team – investing in your workforce’s wellness doesn’t just make sense from a humanitarian point of view, it makes financial sense too. Here’s how you can start to go about creating a healthier workplace:

Set up a wellness committee

Depending on how large your organisation is, by making this official, you are conveying the message that you’re serious about this. It also ensures that potential changes such as allowing in-office naps/recreation isn’t perceived as an excuse to slack off, but is rather managed in a structured way. Most importantly, it allows you to involve your team-members in finding the solutions that suit them best. Even if your team size doesn’t justify a committee, make sure you are inclusive in your plans for introducing wellness-related changes, taking everyone’s needs and suggestions on board.

Set up a healthy eating club

It is an internationally accepted practice to have social days where everyone has breakfast or lunch together. In some companies, it also takes the form of everyone bringing in something for a communal feast. Set this up in your office with a healthy twist – so instead of bagels and doughnuts, people can tuck into fresh, nutritious food. If people are bringing food in, encourage them to get traditional homecooked dishes – alongside being healthier, they will also offer a platform for cultural interaction in our expat-heavy society. If the company foots the bill, then sign up for a healthy meal delivery programme – there are many different options out there, offering varied cuisines. There are also numerous companies in the region offering fresh produce delivery, so a weekly box of fresh fruit is a great idea too.

Lead by example

It’s going to be hard to expect your teammembers to move towards a healthier lifestyle, if they see the boss scoffing processed snacks and living off energy drinks. Ensure you drink lots of water, herbal teas, and snack on fruits – and it wouldn’t hurt to be seen doing all of this! Have walking meetings when possible – especially when it’s catch-ups with one or two people, heading outdoors for a walk will automatically be more productive. Also, try and have proper lunch breaks, leave office on time whenever possible, and allow yourself balance.

Schedule corporate health activities

Given today’s lifestyles, chances are, many of your employees may suffer from lifestyle related ailments, and the truth is, not many undergo regular health checkups voluntarily. Sign up with a medical service provider or hospital to arrange periodical health screenings for your employees; most of them offer good-value corporate packages. This can go a long way in preventing future healthcare costs in the form of absenteeism, or worse.

You could also take a holistic approach by introducing stress management workshops and yoga and meditation sessions in the office (or at a designated studio). A lesser logistical challenge would be to provide vouchers for such services to your team. Sign up the group for a fitness challenge: Whether it’s a marathon, a fun run, or even a group challenge, get a team together and go for it. Not only will it encourage people to be more active, it will also foster team building. But don’t forget, you have to be a part of it too!