Encourage Healthy Habits in the Workplace to Get Ahead of the Flu
Staples Advantage Offers Recommendations to Impact the Bottom Line
Sickness and poor health lead to increased employee absenteeism and reduced productivity in the workplace. With healthcare costs continuing to rise and chipping away at company profits, employee health and the bottom line take top priority. As a result, more executives are now involved in healthcare decisions and are re-evaluating long term cost management strategies. To help reach this goal, Staples Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc., offers recommendations for business executives to consider that will help keep employees well and healthcare costs down:
· Offer healthy choices: A healthy diet is the first step toward a strong immune system and businesses can help employees avoid the temptations lurking in vending machines. Encourage employees to make wise food choices by offering alternatives to candy bars, sugary soft drinks and breakfast pastries in the office breakroom. Snacks and refreshments like trail mix, granola bars and bottled water are excellent and easy items to stock. Another popular option is to arrange for regular fresh fruit deliveries for employees and to order salads instead of oversized sandwiches and chips for meetings.
· Utilize resources: Encourage employees to review their health insurance policy for wellness incentives and to take advantage of gym membership reimbursements or weight loss program discounts. Some policies also offer free annual health risk assessments. If these incentives are not currently included in the policy, organize lunch time walking clubs or arrange discounts to local fitness centers for employees. According to the Wellness Councils of America, some companies report saving almost $5.00 in healthcare costs for every dollar spent on direct access to wellness programs.
· Encourage healthy habits: Sixty-five percent of employees surveyed by Staples Advantage admitted going into work when sick, a practice that spreads germs to co-workers. To help prevent them from infecting others, encourage employees to work from home when sick and provide them with the tools to make it easier to do so. Equip them with a laptop computer, instructions for logging into the office network and information on security protocols. At a corporate level, consider an “as-needed” sick day policy to relieve some of the pressure from employees who feel obligated to go into the office no matter how they feel.
· Provide the right tools: CFO’s should ensure cleaning staff and employees have the tools they need to minimize the spread of germs by budgeting for appropriately registered cleaners and disinfectants to clean the office. Employees can also benefit from having antimicrobial keyboards and mice that inhibit the growth of bacteria in their work space, as well as wall-mounted hand sanitizer dispensers and no-touch faucets in the restrooms.
· Obtain flu shots: According to the CDC, the best weapon against the flu is the vaccine. Arrange for employees to receive flu shots at the office. Even if employees must share the cost, the convenience of being able to get a flu shot during the work day will increase the likelihood that employees will remain healthy during flu season.