What is Physical Wellbeing and How it Affects Your Employees

What is Physical Wellbeing and How it Affects Your Employees

March 11, 2024

In the fabric of employee wellbeing, physical health serves as both a cornerstone and a keystone, underpinning and interlocking with mental, social, financial, and professional wellbeing.

This blog post delves into the essence of physical wellbeing and its profound impact on employees and, by extension, on organisations.

We will explore the core components of physical health in the workplace, why it's paramount, and practical steps to enhance it, ensuring a robust foundation for overall employee wellbeing.

Understanding Physical Wellbeing

Physical wellbeing pertains to the absence of disease and the physical capacity to perform daily tasks comfortably. It encompasses various aspects of health, including fitness levels, nutritional habits, sleep patterns, and the management of chronic conditions.

In the workplace context, it also involves the physical work environment and how it contributes to or detracts from employees' health.

The Impact of Physical Wellbeing on Employees

Physical health is intricately linked to other areas of wellbeing, acting as a catalyst for overall health. Here's how it affects employees:

Productivity and Performance

Good physical health is a precursor to high energy levels and the ability to concentrate, directly influencing productivity and performance.

Employees in optimal health are more likely to engage fully with their work, exhibit higher levels of efficiency, and produce quality outcomes.

Absenteeism and Presenteeism

Poor physical health can lead to increased absenteeism, where employees take time off due to illness.

Conversely, presenteeism, where employees come to work despite being unwell, not only affects their productivity but can also lead to the spread of illness within the workplace.

Fostering physical wellbeing can significantly reduce these occurrences.

Employee Morale and Engagement

Physical wellbeing programs in the workplace can enhance employees' perception of their value within the company, boosting morale and engagement.

When employees feel cared for, their loyalty and satisfaction with their employer increase.

Long-term Health Costs

Investing in physical wellbeing can mitigate long-term health costs for both employees and employers.

Preventative measures can reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases and their associated healthcare costs, benefiting everyone involved.

Enhancing Physical Wellbeing in the Workplace

Promoting physical wellbeing in the workplace involves a multifaceted approach that addresses both individual behaviour and the work environment. Here are strategies to consider:

Encourage Regular Physical Activity

Incorporate physical activity into the workday through standing desks, active breaks, and fitness challenges. Subsidising gym memberships or offering onsite fitness classes can also motivate employees to stay active.

Promote Healthy Eating

Provide healthy eating options at the workplace, such as nutritious snacks in the vending machines or catering. Educational workshops on nutrition and healthy eating habits can empower employees to make better food choices.

Ensure a Healthy Work Environment

A safe and comfortable physical work environment is critical. This includes ergonomic workstations to prevent musculoskeletal disorders, adequate lighting, comfortable temperatures, and clean air.

Support Sleep and Rest

Educate employees on the importance of sleep and encourage practices that support restful nights, such as flexible working hours when possible to accommodate different sleep schedules and stress management programs.

Manage Workplace Stress

Chronic stress can have significant physical health repercussions, from hypertension to weakened immune systems. Implementing stress management strategies, such as mindfulness training and workload assessments, can help mitigate these effects.

Provide Health Screenings and Immunisations

Offering regular health screenings and vaccinations can prevent illnesses from spreading and catch health issues early when they are most treatable.

The Role of Leadership in Promoting Physical Wellbeing

Leadership commitment is crucial in embedding physical wellbeing into the company culture. Leaders can set the tone by participating in wellbeing initiatives, providing resources and support for health programs, and recognising and rewarding healthy behaviours.

Measuring the Impact

To ensure the effectiveness of physical wellbeing initiatives, organisations should measure their impact.

This can be done through health surveys, analysing absenteeism and presenteeism rates, and gathering feedback on specific programmes.

These metrics can guide continuous improvement, helping to tailor initiatives that meet the evolving needs of the workforce.

Conclusion

Physical wellbeing is a foundational element of overall employee health, intricately linked to productivity, morale, and long-term success for individuals and organisations alike.

By understanding its importance and implementing targeted strategies, employers can create a work environment that supports and promotes the physical health of their employees.

Through leadership commitment, continuous assessment, and a culture that prioritises health, organisations can achieve a truly holistic approach to employee wellbeing, setting the stage for a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.