Duncan Young: How can employers help staff achieve good health?

Duncan Young

Good health is not simply the absence of disease. This becomes apparent when a holistic approach to health and wellbeing is taken, which includes a range of elements that help people to thrive.

Although good health is specific to each person, employers can help on the journey to increased wellbeing. Employees spend a large proportion of the day travelling to or being physically at work, so the work environment itself can have a big impact on health.

The physical workplace employees occupy during their day at work can improve health through design, circulation and incidental movement, which is encouraged via dynamic work settings, social areas, providing natural daylight, indoor plants, facilities and indoor air quality. Well-designed workplaces can encourage people to make better health choices. For example, Lendlease provides lean rails in our meeting rooms to allow people the choice to sit or stand during meetings.

How employees plan their days also has a big impact on their health and wellbeing. In busy, 24/7 lives, it is easy for employees to forget to prepare their bodies for ‘their best day’ at work, and to forget the importance of eating well, taking regular breaks and engaging with other people in the workplace.

The food employees consume either adds to or detracts from their health, so regular healthy eating breaks during the work day can help employees to stay focused. Talking to colleagues, on the other hand, helps increase employee engagement and allows tacit knowledge transfer, which could improve business success.

It is not just time at work that affects productivity; how employees sleep is often determined by their day, so how employees leave work can, therefore, impact their recovery and their performance the following day.

It is important to acknowledge that humans are social creatures and that we learn through observation, so peers and leaders can also have an impact in helping employees be better in both life and work.

Duncan Young is head of health and wellbeing, property at construction organisation Lendlease

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