Work health means more than just “am I well enough to make it into work today?” It goes beyond this simple baseline into affecting your health outside of work and the success you might have. It’s easy to forget that work hours are not a time where you’re just on pause, waiting for life to start, and if that’s the rut you’re stuck in, perhaps the following can help you bring a more positive and healthful way of working into your life.
While a lot of your health at work is down to how you choose to live your life, a lot is dictated by your working environment and the company you work for. Recent studies show that companies who run wellness programmes have 28% less sick leave and a 19% decline in absenteeism. So if you’re lucky enough to work for a company that offers lunchtime yoga or a discounted gym membership, you’d do well to take advantage. The figures show that companies benefit, so if you work for yourself, incorporating some exercise into your routine could help you avoid costly sick days.
On the flipside of that coin, presenteeism (going into work when ill) can be extremely costly as it makes people who are ill less efficient and can also pass on illness to other workers. Presenteeism is believed to cost employers £605/$770 per employee per year. So if health and wellness programs can reduce sickness, it’s positive for workers and companies alike.
But enough facts and figures, let’s look at the 4 ways your wellbeing is good for our work life.
You’re More Productive
We all know exercise is good for us but we don’t really give it credit when it comes to how it helps our focus and productivity. According to a recent study, you can improve your productivity by 3.2 days per year if you go from not exercising at all, to exercising 150 minutes per week – that’s just 30 minutes, 5 days a week. If you’re a blogger, freelancer or self-employed, knowing you could increase your work output and get healthy is a very attractive prospect. It’s also been proven that physical exhaustion can have a negative impact on your mental performance, so ensure you’re exercising but also taking time to recover and getting enough sleep.
Food helps you work harder
Hey, we know it’s nothing you’ve not heard before, but what you put into your body is mighty important. And it turns out it can have an impact on how well you think at work too – so if you’re looking for that next promotion or big client, then you might want to keep reading.
In the same study as the one mentioned above, it found that 3.5 days a year per person are lost due to poor diet, so while quick and easy might seem the best option for a busy workday, you might want to go for fresh and healthy instead. It was also suggested that reducing your fat intake to a healthy range can help you reclaim 2.5 days of productivity as well.
Mental health matters too
Mental health is talked about a lot more than it used to, which is great progress, but it hasn’t ended the stigma around mental illness. Because our work needs us to be connected more and more outside of office hours, especially if you blog or freelance, it can be difficult to separate out work from everyday life. This can make it can be harder to find a work-life balance and increase stress levels.
It’s estimated that 11.5% of sickness absence are due to mental health issues, which translates into around 33 days per year for someone with moderate or severe depression. The report says that it could be possible to reduce the number of productive days lost to depression if employees were to recover, however, this isn’t something companies have control over and for many, depression can be a recurring or life-long condition. What can help is acceptance and the destigmatisation of mental health in the workplace.
If you suffer from difficulties with your mental health, you probably know all too well how it can impact your work, so don’t be afraid to build in self-care into your workday and look to implement a support system for any difficult periods in your life.
Workplace safety can give you job security
For those who work in office environments, we think the biggest risks to our wellbeing are fires, tripping at work or the chronic pain from poor posture. For others, the risks are more serious; in factory our construction settings, machines can be the cause of life-changing injury or even death. In 2017/18 in the UK, 144 people were killed in workplace accidents and over 70,000 were injured. That might seem like a lot but the UK has some of the lowest workplace injury rates in the world. But how does this relate to job security?
If you work for a company, workplace health and safety is extremely important to your wellbeing and that of the people you work with, but if you are self-employed or freelance, while others aren’t relying on you to protect their wellbeing, your wellbeing is a personal and high priority. If you were to be injured at work while employed by a company, you’d be entitled to some kind of sick pay and then might be able to make a claim against them. But if you work for yourself, it’s possible your income would dry up. Ensuring you are safe at work by either knowing or implementing safety protocols could keep you physically safe, ensure you’re not stressed out by an unsafe environment and also prevent you from having to take time off for recovery.