This is a contributor’s blogpost …
I want my start-up to have the edge on the competition and I know that one day that will mean having a team of employees who want to be at work. You can have the best business model out there and a killer product, but if your employees are unenthusiastic and care little whether your enterprise thrives or fails, you are not going to get very far!
There are two things that you need from your employees. You need their (good) health and their engagement with your vision, and the two are intrinsically linked. Employees who are healthy, both physically and psychologically, are far more likely to engage with your plans and help you to make them happen.
So what can you do to keep your staff healthy, happy and on message?
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Healthy environments equal healthy employees
I don’t know about you but I don’t find health and safety the most exciting of subjects. It may not make your heart sing like some of the more creative aspects of launching a start-up. Yet, without it, your new venture could hit the wall within weeks.
The laws regarding employee’s health and safety at work are clear. You, as the employer, are responsible for providing a safe working environment. This requires you to assess the tasks that your employees carry out and identify potential hazards. The next step is to introduce control measures to minimize risks and monitor how things are going.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that this is only relevant to heavy industry and people handling dangerous chemicals. Offices are not as safe you think they are. Slips, trips and falls and lifting injuries (manual handling injuries) are common amongst employees who work in an office. You know that stiff and achy feeling you get when you have been hunched in front of a screen for too long. That’s caused by poor ergonomics! Ergonomic problems are exacerbated by poorly designed desks and chairs and poor posture.
Working at a PC or laptop requires many small movements that need to be carried out over and over again using a keyboard or a mouse. This can lead to a condition called repetitive strain injury (RSI) which is a musculoskeletal injury of the joints and soft tissues. For those of us who spend long periods of time online, this is a really important issue.
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Stress and your business
Mindfulness and meditation techniques can work wonders and reduce work-related stress and the impact it has on health. We could all benefit from learning to self-manage our health (including stress-related illness) and learn to embrace activity, creativity, and productivity.
Many research studies have shown that the workplace is the single biggest cause of stress for adults in many countries. This problem has grown steadily over the past few decades.
Stress is a concept that can be difficult to define and which means different things to different people. Some business sectors are more severely affected than others. Public service industries (this includes doctors and nurses, and teachers), business professionals and media professionals show higher levels of stress compared to other jobs.
There is plenty that you can do to help employees manage stress and maintain productivity but it is unlikely that you will have the expertise to set up effective systems. You can bring in help such as that provided by Health Assured to identify problems and intervene quickly to find appropriate and effective solutions.
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Design the stress away
I’m lucky because I can do my job from anywhere in the world! However, there will always be a certain amount of stress associated with the workplace and clever design can create a calm and nurturing environment within which you and your employees can thrive.
The more natural the light the better; it enhances the mood and aids concentration. Some employers have taken this to the extreme and provided outdoor working spaces. Your budget (and the local climate) may make this impracticable for you but a simple outdoor space can work wonders.
Communication keeps people happy and diffuses stressful situations. If you want your employees to mingle and chat you need to provide open social areas. This gives a casual vibe and makes everyone a lot more relaxed. Those chance encounters at the water cooler or the coffee machine can lead to highly valuable collaborations in the future. Your business will be the one to benefit.
If any sort of outdoor space is out of the question, you can always bring the outdoors into the office. A few carefully placed pot plants can radically alter the feel of a cold, sterile office environment. Just don’t forget to water them!