By John Tucker
When we think about creating efficient and high-performing offices in government offices, we too often overlook the role that employee health plays in making our workplaces. Workplace injuries and illnesses can hurt our performance and limit the efficiency of our offices. The direct and indirect costs of workplace injuries and illnesses among government employees is also significant.
However, there are a number of investments that local government offices can consider adopting, many of which are easy-to-implement and cost-effective ways of improving employee health. Here are some suggestions:
Give Workers 30 Minutes a Day to Walk - Up to 80 percent of Americans get less than optimal levels of exercise. Walking just half an hour day can have incredible benefits, such as renewed energy, lower body fat percentages and a decreased risk for many types of illness and injury.
Join a Sports League - Another way to encourage workers to be more active is signing up your workplace in a local sports league. This will offer employees the chance to take part in healthy activities and will be a tremendous team-building exercise.
Offer Better Food Alternatives - We often settle for convenience on our lunch and snack breaks, both because of time constraints and food availability. Officer managers might consider occasionally springing for a healthy lunch for their employees or offering healthier choices in vending machines or your cafeteria.
Utilize the Service of Physicians - Offering your workers the chance to receive checkups on their eyes and hearing can also have incredible benefits to the overall health of your workforce. You can even consider bringing in a doctor or nurse to administer flu shots for employees who wish to receive them.
Pay Attention to Workstations - Repetitive strain injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome or thoracic outlet syndrome, can stem from poor workplace ergonomics. Properly aligning a desk or workstation to fit the size and duties of an employee can eliminate many of these injuries before they occur.
Communicate with Your Employees - Anonymous surveys could offer an opportunity for less outspoken employees to voice their concerns and offer ideas. Ask your workers how they feel about their safety and health and, just as importantly, listen to what they communicate to you. One of the best sources for tips on improving employee health can be, not surprisingly, your employees.
Provide Resources - Many people want to improve their overall health but don’t have the time or knowledge of how to do so. You can offer the chance to be better informed on these topics and give them the opportunity to move in the right direction. By providing resources to workers, you’ll be showing them that their health is a priority, and you’ll be empowering them to take the initiative.
Prepare for Emergencies - Safety drills can preempt chaos and present workers with a clear and actionable path should disaster strike. This means conducting earthquake or tornado drills, training employees on how to use first-aid equipment and informing them about how to identify signs of potential workplace violence.
Perform Safety Audits - Consult experts and take the initiative to look for hazards in your workplace. This means regularly inspecting for loose flooring or broken steps, for example, and bringing in third parties to check for things like high levels of lead in theor the presence of asbestos.
John Tucker is the director of claims management and advocates on behalf of clients at Kaplan Lawyers PC, a New York personal injury law firm.