Damaging behaviors like smoking, Internet overload, stress, and overall bad lifestyle choices can hinder productivity and drive up health care costs for your business.
Here are a few tips on how to help employees curb bad habits in the workplace:
Smoking. U.S. businesses are paying an estimated $3,391 extra per smoker per year in direct medical costs and lost productivity from smoking-related illnesses like cancer, heart disease, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory illnesses.
Try implementing a smoking cessation program in your office. Studies show that programs that last two weeks or longer are the most successful. In addition to the support and tips from the program, make it harder for employees to smoke by getting rid of any “smoke friendly” spaces indoors, and move designated smoking areas 500 feet or more from entrances.
Internet overload. A 2008 study found 28 billion hours of lost productivity every year can be attributed to instant messaging and non-work related Internet activity.
Encourage employees to turn off instant messaging and stay away from social networking sites like facebook during regular work hours to avoid time traps. Making priority lists and schedules for things like checking e-mail, twitter, and non-work sites can also help keep productivity in check.
Stress. Taking on too much at work isn’t always a good thing: Nearly half of all American employees report feeling “stressed out” compared to 39% of workers in other countries. High stress levels can have a negative impact on health (increasing risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity) and also cost more than $300 billion in medical, legal, insurance, increased absenteeism, and diminished productivity.
Help employees manage stress by encouraging good communication: Consult employees on a regular basis about their workload and responsibilities, share company information, and praise good work.
Unhealthy lifestyle choices. Health care spending on obese employees increased by 80% from 2001 to 2006. Luckily, obesity can be prevented through diet and exercise.
Tack up posters and use tabletop reminders about the benefits to a low-calorie and low-fat eating plan. And to help motivate employees to move more, start a walking program in your office, or contact a local fitness center for possible discount opportunities.
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