THE BLOG

How to Build a Lean, Mean Workforce

23/03/2015 12:18 GMT | Updated 20/05/2015 10:59 BST

Prioritising employees' physical and mental wellbeing is really important. Aside from generally caring about colleagues' health, a healthy office actually helps to increase productivity and can even reduce absenteeism.

A recent survey from Virgin Pulse finds that nearly four-fifths or companies have plans to improve employee health & well-being throughout their organisations. However, how can businesses make sure they are taking the right measures to help their people become healthier? To inspire employees to lead healthy lifestyles throughout the year, it's critical to create a 'wellness culture' throughout the company, which can be achieved through a number of methods.

So how to start? Well, a wellness programme needs to suit the firm's size, location and sometimes the industry it's in. For instance, walking meetings can be a useful facet of a wellness programme, however I'm sure you'd agree that it might not be wise for city-based traders to discuss sensitive information whilst on the move!

Ultimately, to create this type of culture, a precedent needs to be set; the company must take an active interest in improving the health of its employees and be promoted throughout all levels of the organisation. At Qlik for example, we issued all of our employees with Fitbits so they can not only track their own fitness, but compete with other employees on how well they're doing.

Furthermore, offering significant gym discounts is another great way to create this culture as employees can work fitness around their schedule. Too few organisations offer enough of a discount or choice to make it worth it. Doing so will dramatically increase uptake. It may also be an idea to offer discounts to their partners so they can train together and encourage participation.

Elsewhere, an increasingly important part of a company wellness programme is encouraging and enabling employees to take up healthier ways of getting into work such as cycling and running. Studies have shown that cyclists take 1.3 fewer sick days per year which is great news for the business; however you need to make sure you're helping employees get on their bike.

For example, consider installing showers and changing rooms in the office if you have the office space and the budget. Also, try and help your employees purchase their commuting equipment. In the UK, for instance, you can apply for government-backed initiatives, such as the Cycle to Work scheme, which makes bike purchasing more affordable for employees.

Elsewhere, health & fitness can be integrated into the company's overall CSR programme. Encouraging employees to participate in fun-runs and cycle rides to raise money for the company's different charitable causes is a well-tested method to galvanise momentum and raise awareness of well-being throughout the business. However, with these pursuits it's important to be as inclusive as possible otherwise you may end up with the same faces volunteering for planned activities.

Finally, you should ask your employees their opinions on what schemes they would like to see implemented. As mentioned, all companies and its employees are different and this will help give a steer on what they need to stay motivated and what will work. Whether its hosting in house yoga sessions or forming company sports tournaments, there are many ways to implement and build a wellness culture as long as you take an active interest in its development. Executed correctly, you'll be able to keep everyone fighting fit for years to come.