10 ways to support employees’ physical and mental health (beyond offering insurance)

Healthy, happy employees make for a successful business. While many business owners choose to provide their employees with health insurance, some don’t have the means to do so, but still want to do all they can to support their team’s physical and mental well-being. And some companies that do provide insurance are looking for additional ways to support employee health.The Business Journals

Fortunately, there are plenty of creative, budget-friendly ways for a business to support its employees’ physical and mental health. Below, 10 members of Business Journals Leadership Trust discuss various ways for business owners to make health a priority in the workplace.

1. Integrate health support into daily activities.
Leaders need to set an example and integrate priorities that support physical and mental health into daily activities. Don’t just tell employees how it can be done; invite others to participate. And request ongoing feedback to optimize the process. It’s also important to build in “scaffolding” to support it (for example, meeting-free zones, not sending emails after hours and so on). – Dan Webber, Edelman

2. Set up ways for the team to connect socially.
Make sure to support all employees and build a personal connection. Encouraging a work-life balance is important, but also remember that employees need a social connection to the company and their colleagues. Social activities ensure a sense of community and connection and make it fun to associate with your work colleagues, which is just as important as standard company health insurance benefits. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising

3. Lead with compassion.
Compassion is the key. It builds trust and a bond between the business and employees. Businesses should strive to create an environment that cultivates a compassionate work culture and ethics. Building employees’ confidence in their employer, so they know they can depend on the business in an hour of need, is worth more in supporting physical and mental health than contributing to insurance. – Seshagiri Vaidyula, Templar Shield Inc.

4. Encourage healthy workplace habits.
It’s not always about the money or workplace benefits. You can support your team’s mental health simply by encouraging healthy workplace habits. Make sure your team members don’t work overtime and weekends on a regular basis. Have them take breaks, introduce some kind of “happy hour” in the office and celebrate together so that you build genuine relationships, not just “do the work.” – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

5. Be open and flexible.
Everyone is going to have a doctor’s appointment, the need for a mental health day and so on. Encourage your team to put anything that can be planned in advance in the calendar as soon as possible so that adjustments can be made if necessary. For things that pop up, find alternatives and reprioritize. And keep an eye on each person’s workload, doing what you can to minimize overloading anyone. – Rebecca Thorburn, Visible Impact

6. Create a ‘burnout-free’ environment.
Most importantly, we try to create an environment where people don’t work too hard and get burned out. If we sense someone is working too hard, we encourage them to take a break. We offer ample vacation and sick time, and we ensure our team uses it! Time off is important. We’ve found that having a safe, accepting and inviting physical office is important for both physical and mental health. – Andrew Bird, CFP®, RICP®, CLU®, Mosaic Financial Group – Northwestern Mutual

7. Learn what motivates each of your employees.
There are several human resource tools out there that can help an employer learn what motivates an individual employee. If you are a small business, learn the key triggers that your people consider important. Acknowledging and using those triggers will add to work and personal satisfaction. – Corine Prieto, VIDL Network

8. Partner with health and fitness providers.
There are several ways for employers to support their employees’ physical and mental health. For example, partner with health and fitness providers to offer access to online training programs, or conduct physical training boot camps at regular cadences. Setting your employees up with Apple Fitness+ is one good option for their and their families’ well-being. – Sanjay Jupudi, Qentelli

9. Offer ‘wellness bucks’ for health-related expenses.
“Wellness bucks” are a good idea! Offer each employee a set amount of money to pay for health and wellness expenses — maybe a new bike, yoga classes or a gym membership. The important thing is to support their interpretation of what they need, not fund what you think they need. – Kimberly Lucas, Goldstone Partners

10. Provide the time and space for your team to meet their needs.
A business can support its employees’ physical and mental health by providing space for the employee to do what’s best for them, recognizing that each employee has different needs. Simple things such as setting schedules in advance can help hourly workers plan for their needs in a less stressful, more meaningful way, which dramatically improves mental health. – Laura Doehle, Elevation Business Consulting