Creating a healthy work environment expands far beyond sending your flu-stricken cube-mate home for the day (but please go home if you're hacking up a lung). And yes, luckily most people no longer make ends meet by way of coal mining or producing shirtwaist blouses, a la the early 20th century. Today, a healthy place of business is just as much about employee wellness and satisfaction as it is about physical health.
Though technological advances are supposed to make our lives easier, we all somehow seem to be working harder now in corporate America. This can lead to severe burnout and decreased morale if a company doesn't make team wellness a front-running matter.
A "healthy" office should be safe, empowering, and fulfilling for employees… and, dare I say, fun. With that, here are some ideas for progressive health and wellness initiatives that may even have you wanting to get up for work.
Give employees the right to disconnect
The French government recently passed a new labor law to amend the country's working circumstances. Granted, the bill was unpopular with citizens overall (it ultimately shifted a good deal of power from workers to managers), but one of its provisions supports the worker's right to disconnect -- which is something we can certainly benefit from in America, too.
In our high-tech era, it's become the norm to bring our office lives home with us; to check work emails at the dinner table and take business calls on vacation. Somewhere along the line (I'm looking at you, iPhone), we conceived the notion that we always have to be "on." This unbalanced lifestyle blurs the line of work life and personal life, a line we need to honor for the sake of our well-being and productivity when we are on the clock. The newly passed overtime rule is definitely a step in the right direction -- at least if you do stay until 9pm to work on those Excel spreadsheets, you'll finally be compensated for it.
Require paid family leave...
Here's a great example of American exceptionalism: we're the only country in the OECD that doesn't require employers to give paid maternity leave. Even a bastion of equality like Turkey mandates 16 paid weeks, a nod to the important role family connections play in overall health and well-being. America could go even further by offering paternity leave -- new dads could use a little time off, too!
… and guaranteed paid vacation
Vacations are good for you! For real! In a paper on the subject, the authors throw serious shade on American vacation policies, simply writing, "The United States is the only advanced economy in the world that does not guarantee its workers paid vacation." Which, on further review, isn't so much "shade" as "a statement of fact." All work and no play makes America a stressed-out, frustrated, and sedentary bunch of employees.