The Employer’s role in ensuring a healthy and productive workforce

healthy at work

Working 9 to 5, five days a week, leaves limited time for a healthy lifestyle.

For most office workers, sitting in front of a computer screen does not offer much of an opportunity to get up and move around, apart from the occasional tea run or toilet break.

Similarly, it doesn’t lend itself to healthy eating either, as often, employees bring to work an assortment of unhealthy snacks including biscuits, chocolates and sweets. When it comes to lunch, last night’s microwaveable dinner or takeaway tends to be the norm, as fast food chains are cheap and usually just a short walk away. If you have the unhealthy habit of smoking cigarettes, you may succumb to this purely out of an addiction or as a coping mechanism to help relieve stress. At the end of a long day, the last thing most people want to do is go to the gym or engage in any form of exercise. The thing that comes to most people’s mind is sitting down and relax in front of the television with another insta-meal.

When an employer puts this all into perspective, not only is this bad for employee health, but for their productivity too. Yet as we all know, an unhealthy workforce is an unhappy workforce. When employees are on medical leave due to various ailments and illnesses, office morale and motivation drops, as a result.

Identifying Solutions

When it comes down to it, employers can be highly effective at helping their workforce become healthier, and subsequently, more productive. For example, employers can invest in the health of their staff and treat them as valuable members of the team by making small investments in them. From a purely nutritional perspective, employers can offer a weekly food order service for their office, tailored towards healthy foods and low-fat alternatives. This should help to rule out unhealthy food options such as biscuits, pastries and sodas.

For employers who have bigger budgets, they can often splash out on fitness opportunities for their employees via subsidised gym memberships or the use of private gym facilities. Whilst some may offer their staff free memberships to local gyms, this proximity is an incentive for employees to take a break, reset, and burn off some calories.

Another option, particularly for smaller businesses who don’t have the cash, is to form a sports team. Not only great for burning calories and getting active, but for building camaraderie in the team as well. The bonus is this can be achieved for any team game, from football to cycling, and is also a great way to network with other companies who are implementing the same thing.

With respect to smokers, a policy of regulated smoking breaks would work best here. Not only do smoking breaks eat into company time and money as employees aren’t managing their day productively, but it will help employees to get their habit under control. Although this enforced smoking break policy may not be popular at first, it does make each individual accountable for their work and ensures employees are where they need to be (behind their desks) at certain times of the day. If this arrangement completely fails, it is not unheard of for employers to offer quit smoking schemes for their employees by providing them cigarette alternatives.


Helping your workforce to become healthier is just one of the many responsibilities an employer owes to its staff. Introducing a few small lifestyle changes will not break the bank but instead will go hand-in-hand with team building and boosting morale. These two positives will not only help your business, but the mindset of your employees over time.

The knowledge that an employer is investing in their personal well-being both inside and outside of work, and for both the short-term and the long-term, is a bonus in most employees’ eyes with happiness in the workplace being vital for any business’s success. From an employer’s perspective, whilst the financial rewards that come with increased productivity and a reduction in staff absences may not be immediately obvious, over the long run, you will have a happier and healthier team of people who are positive, dedicated and in some cases might possibly count work as their home away from home.