As a result of Covid-19, employers need to re-look office culture, teamwork, and talent strategies to acknowledge both a shifting business landscape and changing employee expectations.

According to new research, physical well-being ranks third among employees’ top priorities after financial and mental well-being. With this in mind, Sarah Rice, chief people officer at Skynamo outlines how employers can build this into their employee retention strategies.

Rice says that the pandemic has shone a spotlight on the importance of health and well-being. This is reflected in a recent study by BrandMapp which revealed a 10% increase in South Africans saying that they believe that being fit and leading a healthy lifestyle is important.

Since we spend approximately 50% of our total waking hours in the workplace, companies should actively support their people to lead healthier lifestyles and help them to do so while at work. “This will not only enable employees to better manage the pressures of both work and life, but it will also have ripple effects on the business,” says Rice.

“If employees exercise, eat well and sleep better, they tend to have more energy and more resilience which means they have more resources to manage their daily lives, in the office and at home,” says Rice. “This will make them feel valued, which fosters a sense of loyalty that leads to increased motivation and productivity. Plus, this has knock-on effects when it comes to attracting and retaining top talent.”

Rice shares four ways that workplaces can help employees lead a healthier lifestyle:

• Lead by example. If a company’s leadership is eating healthily and exercising, this helps to create a health-conscious company culture.
• Celebrate successes. Just as it’s important to mark milestones in employees’ lives like birthdays, weddings and the births of their babies, so too is recognising achievements like setting a personal best time during a race, getting a new belt in karate or participating in a major swimming event. This reiterates the company’s health-conscious culture.
• Talk about mental health. It has been reported that one in four people in the workplace is depressed. Despite this, 80% will continue working. For far too long mental health and mental illness have been taboo topics in the workplace, meaning that employees have been forced to suffer in silence. By actively talking about it at work people will feel more comfortable about coming forward to discuss their struggles. For example, employers could invite expert speakers to address employees on common issues such as substance abuse, burnout and stress management.
• Encourage exercise. With benefits like improved concentration, sharper memory, faster learning, prolonged mental stamina, enhanced creativity, boosted mood and lower stress levels, exercise is crucial for everyone. Despite this, 80% of adults are not getting enough exercise for optimal health. With lack of time and motivation being among the reasons for this, companies should counteract this by making it easier for employees to exercise. This could be achieved by offering yoga or Pilates breaks, sessions with a personal trainer or even by starting a company running club.