11 Ways Employers Can Cultivate Healthy Habits among Their Workforce

This article will give employers eleven tips on how to cultivate healthy habits among their workforce.

Meeting« Back to Articles

Employee well-being is crucial for ensuring workers reach their maximum potential. Yet survey data shows that people aren't having their needs met at work.

Not only are 82% of people at risk of experiencing burnout in 2024. But even more worryingly, entrepreneurs are facing increasing health risks as well. A 2023 study discovered that 75% of small business owners have concerns over their emotional well-being. And 56% have a diagnosis of anxiety, depression, or stress-related problems.

With this data in mind, it becomes evident that employers must cultivate healthy habits within their organisations in order to reduce absenteeism and boost productivity. The practice will help circumvent physical and mental health-related issues that could result in poor performance, diminished problem-solving capacity, and a negative company culture.

This article will give employers eleven tips on how to cultivate healthy habits among their workforce.

1. Allow Flexibility

One of the easiest ways to encourage your workforce to take care of their well-being is to allow a healthy dose of flexibility in your organisation.

Being able to choose where and when they work is an effective way for your workforce to organise their lives in a way that prioritises health. It also increases job satisfaction by 65%. Plus, research shows that being allowed to change one's schedule or take time off reduces stress by anywhere from 20% to 54%.

It's no surprise that 59% of employees prefer hybrid work arrangements, with the ability to choose when and where they will work. However, the reality of running a business is that time and location-based flexibility isn't always possible. Nonetheless, in these cases, you need to find other ways to give your employees control.

For example, in writing for HBR, Gallup's Chief Scientist revealed several flexibility options on-site employees would like to have. These include relaxed dress codes, flexible start and end times, and choice of the hours they work.

So, if you want to develop an organisational culture that cultivates healthy habits and benefits employee well-being, think about how you can give your workers a dose of flexibility to help them better organise their lives, lower their work-related stress levels, and maintain healthy lifestyles.

2. But Don't Sacrifice Stability

Employees who enjoy a high level of work flexibility benefit in multiple ways. They feel like they belong in their organisation and show higher levels of motivation and productivity. They're more likely to trust their teams and leaders. Plus, they're considerably more likely to report a healthy work-life balance and positive mental well-being.

However, the problem with too much flexibility is that it can sacrifice stability and structure — both for employees and employers.

For instance, research from HBR revealed that 69% of people try to sit in the same spot — even when they don't have a permanent desk or office at work. In other words, people need structure and routine to do great work. And, as their leader, it is your job to initiate the process of creating that structure in a way that fits your organisation's needs the best.

If you want to cultivate a healthy approach to work through independence (and reap the benefits of improved productivity and mental well-being), consider your team's needs regarding structure. Then, try your best to create a system of guidelines that will provide your employees with stability without hindering their ability to prioritise their well-being.

3. Encourage Autonomy

In the early 90s, researchers conducted a fascinating study. They measured how low job control affected worker's health, studying more than 10,000 people over five years. What they found was that people who reported low levels of job control — those unable to decide how to complete tasks and those lacking training to work more efficiently — reported significantly higher risk of coronary heart disease. And the conclusion was simple.

Employee autonomy isn't just beneficial in terms of productivity. But it also has a very real effect on people's physical health.

With this data in mind, one of the most effective ways to invest in employee well-being is to give your team more variety regarding the tasks they complete. Furthermore, ensure they have a say in work-related decisions (as well as that you're actively listening to their feedback). And consider other ways to give back control over their professional lives — particularly if your leadership goals include helping workers build a better work-life balance.

The best strategy to cultivate a healthy work environment in this way is to focus on boosting employee autonomy.

Instead of mindlessly pursuing flexibility and letting your workers make all the rules, do your best to empower them. Give them the tools they require to complete their tasks to a high standard. Offer support, motivation, and encouragement for innovation. Finally, ensure your organisation encourages critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making authority.

4. Set and Enforce Boundaries

Sometimes, cultivating healthy habits among your workforce isn't as simple as trusting your employees to prioritise long-term well-being over short-term professional wins. After all, most people have found themselves pulling an all-nighter to meet a deadline or sacrificing time off to take care of an urgent work-related task.

Such situations can be inevitable — especially for startups and companies with a limited workforce. But it's also essential to understand that they must remain the exception if you want your employees to have a healthy approach to their jobs.

For this reason, one of the most important things you need to do as a leader trying to cultivate a healthy work environment is to set and enforce boundaries. The great thing about this strategy is that it can be as simple (or as elaborate) as your organisation requires. If you're just getting started with it, focus on the basics.

• Do your best to communicate expectations regarding task outcomes and deadlines.
• Don't expect your workers to do more than they asked of them (then punish them for failing to do so).
• Adhere to a strict "no after-hours emails" policy.
• Limit the amount of overtime your employees can take on. This prevents burnout and guarantees higher work quality by ensuring they get sufficient rest.

5. Lead with Example

As you explore ways to cultivate healthy habits among your workforce, you need to understand that your role as an employer isn't just about assigning tasks and paying people on time.

More importantly, being a business owner means taking on leadership and mentor roles. And it means that you must set an example regarding how you expect your workforce to behave. Yes, this also involves how they care for their well-being.

The great thing about encouraging healthy habits among your workforce is that it can boil down to a few simple behaviours.

For instance, to encourage more physical movement among your team, set up a cycle-to-work incentive. Or, if you want your team to adopt more healthy eating habits, organise a meatless Monday challenge. You could even organise health-related team-building exercises. Or just talk to your employees about why you want them to prioritise their physical and mental well-being.

As you work toward building a wellness-oriented company culture, don't just expect your people to do the hard work. Instead, do your best to actively participate in every scheme you set up. Join a leader, mentor, or even investing community to collect ideas about ways to support your workforce. Moreover, don't forget to remind your team why you want them to practise self-care — whether that's to lower work-related stress levels, avoid burnout, or invest in their physical and mental health to allow them to do better work.

6. Facilitate Self-Care

A proper self-care routine offers a multitude of benefits, such as a boost to your mental health, productivity, and self-confidence. It can also deliver physical health benefits by helping individuals control their stress, blood pressure, and glucose levels.

But the thing is, many people don't have the resources to follow a regular self-care routine. And even more shockingly, a 2023 survey revealed that one in four people feel guilty for taking time to pamper themselves. Moreover, it's worth noting that 68% of U.S. Americans can't even afford to pay their medical bills on time, making it that much more challenging to encourage them to invest in their health.

As an employer focused on boosting organisational well-being, it's your job to recognise and overcome these challenges to the best of your ability.

One of the most impactful things you can do is to provide your workforce with the health benefits they need. A Forbes survey revealed that 67% of workers want employer-covered healthcare. 45% want life insurance. 34% wish to receive pension and retirement plans. 31% believe it's crucial to get mandatory paid time off. And 23% of employees want their organisations to provide mental health assistance.

In addition to offering these benefits, consider additional ways to facilitate self-care within your organisation. Whether that's providing your workers with a gym membership or providing healthy snacks on-site is up to you (and your resources). But rest assured that even the smallest nudge toward a healthy lifestyle will benefit your people and your company.

7. Provide Mental Health Support and Resources

Many jobs can take a toll on a person's well-being — especially those that put your employees in high-risk environments. Nonetheless, the most commonly overlooked work-related health hazard (that most people face at their jobs) is associated not with physical but with mental health.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, 14.7% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace. And 12.7% of all sickness absence days in the United Kingdom can be attributed to a mental health condition. It's also worth noting that many signs and causes of poor emotional well-being at work get ignored, especially when their effects aren't overly noticeable.

With this in mind, one of the most important things you need to do as a leader to cultivate a healthy company culture is to provide your employees with the necessary mental health support and resources. Whether that involves hiring a professional to join your team, setting up employee assistance programs, free subscriptions to well-being apps, or simply providing your workforce with a place dedicated to relaxation within your workplace is entirely up to you.

What matters is that you make these resources available to everyone and stress the importance of people using them.

8. Foster Social Connections

Another highly impactful way to cultivate healthy habits among your workforce is to foster and encourage social connections.

According to the CDC, nurturing connections have several health benefits. These include preventing heart disease, stroke, and dementia. Moreover, they can positively impact mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, encouraging healthy lifestyle habits, and improving sleep and overall quality of life.

The great thing about this strategy for helping your employees boost their well-being is that it's super easy to implement. In addition to regular team-building activities, explore other ways to help your employees build friendships at work.

Encourage a healthy dose of water cooler chat. Start a Slack channel dedicated to a bit of friendly banter. If you collaborate with outside organisations or investors, choose partners whose values align with your own regarding work-life balance and positive company culture. Finally, remember to be there for your team when they need you. The role of a leader and mentor isn't just about facilitating professional growth but building meaningful relationships with your employees as well.

9. Adopt an Unlimited-Time-off Policy

If you're exploring methods to encourage your workforce to develop healthy habits, you probably already understand the importance of rest. After all, multiple research studies show that organisations need to replace grind culture with a more balanced approach to work. So, it's a good idea to revisit your time-off policy.

According to statistical data, nearly a third of Americans don't have access to PTO. The average American gets just 11 vacation days per year (compared to 30 or more days in Europe). Most worryingly, 52% of people still work while on vacation, which prevents them from getting the rest they require to de-stress and make any significant productivity gains.

As a business owner, you must try your best to prevent such poor practices. Yes, giving less PTO to your employees is a way to cut expenses. But if it comes at the cost of their productivity, harms their motivation, or causes them to burn out, then it's far from the ideal solution. Instead, experiment with more modern approaches to vacation time.

Consider adopting an unlimited PTO policy to encourage employees to rest. Support your workforce's need to take time off by giving them access to time and money-saving travel solutions. Most importantly, don't let your team members leave too many vacation days unused. It's best to set up the minimum required number of days off employees need to take in a year.

10. Pay Attention to Workloads and Stress Levels

In addition to empowering your team to prioritise rest, self-care, and pay attention to their mental well-being, remember that you can significantly improve your employees' health by limiting the amount of workplace stress they're exposed to. Now, considering that 37% of U.S. employees quoted a heavy workload as their main stressors in 2022, it's high time you started paying attention to the amount of work you assign to your workforce.

In addition to ensuring you have enough people on your team to complete all work tasks, encourage your team to speak up about how much they can do within a workday. Furthermore, consider whether there could be additional ways to help your employees complete tasks more efficiently and without burning out.

For instance, something as simple as automating low-priority jobs or outsourcing specific tasks can free up a lot of your team's time. And that isn't just a way for people in your organisation to spend on high-value work. But more importantly, it's an opportunity for your workers to spend their working hours meaningfully. Plus, it allows them to work on assignments they're qualified to perform instead of wasting their energy on jobs that an outside associate or a software solution could just as easily do.

11. Collect and Act on Feedback

Last but not least, as you explore strategies to cultivate healthy habits among your workforce, remember to collect and act on employee feedback. Use every opportunity to gauge how your workforce is feeling and performing. And do your best to create an environment where anyone feels safe and comfortable enough to ask questions, make suggestions, or ask for help.

Ultimately, your ability to receive feedback isn't just a way to improve your company's performance. But, more importantly, it's an invaluable tool in assessing your workers' needs — a method of checking if your management strategies are working. And most importantly for health-focused organisations, it's a way to see whether there are any additional ways you can support your workforce in building a well-balanced work life and prioritising their physical and mental well-being for the sake of long-term success.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: eleven great ways to cultivate healthy habits among your workforce.

If you wish to support your team in working and feeling better, these techniques are great places to start. But, regardless of whether you implement one or all of the tactics covered in this article, do your best to adapt them to fit your team's needs. And don't hesitate to ask your workers whether there's anything else you can do to help them take better care of themselves.

Author Bio

Natasha Lane is a lady of a keyboard and one hell of a geek. She has been working for, and collaborating with, individual clients and companies of all sizes for more than a decade. Natasha specializes in writing about design, branding, digital marketing, and business growth. She is also addicted to art in all its forms and grilled tofu.

Welcome to PushFar, the world's largest mentoring platform. Whether you're looking to find a mentor or launch your own mentoring programs and schemes, we can help.
Looking for a mentor or to become a mentor?
Join Now Free Running your own mentoring programs?
Request a Demo

Explore more articles...

Similar mentoring, career progression and learning articles and resources by PushFar, you might like to read.

Go Further, with PushFar.

What are you looking for in your mentoring journey?
Individual Mentoring - Join Free
Organisation Solutions - Request a Demo