Do you look after your employees? We don't just mean that you've cut the 14-hour shifts, have abandoned the practice of "strapping" workers who don't pull their weight, you no longer sack and blacklist trade union members and have stopped employing four-year-olds as "trappers"... but do you actually look after the health of your employees?
Ok, so they may not be quite as bad as the conditions in a Victorian workhouse, but your non-desk employees in shops, restaurants, hotels and healthcare facilities are continually in contact with customers and, therefore, an ever-changing sea of bacteria that populates the air and every item the customers grab. And because they are stood up for the majority of their working day, they're also vulnerable to physical ailments.
If you want to avoid the hidden but huge costs associated with sick leave and sick pay, you'd do well to look after these frontline workers!
1. Communicate your hygiene policy
Hygiene rules are available for every sector where people have contact with customers, guests or patients. We're sure you've already pointed out where to find these rules to all new employees during their onboarding process, or you assumed that they already received this knowledge as part of their training. But it does not hurt (or hurts significantly less than stomach flu) to regularly remind employees of the main rules. As time passes, there is a chance that details and new developments will come into effect and it's important that head office communicates these rules again via the available internal communication tools. In the UK, the Food Standards Agency is your go-to resource for the latest information and advice.
2. Get ergonomical with the truth
From stand-up desks to the perfect chair, there's a lot of attention on providing the right working posture in seated professions, but it's perhaps even more important for standing professions. Standing around all day means paying a lot of attention to movements, such as the right way of standing up, bending and lifting. For people who work in a shop, hotel, healthcare facility or in construction, tips in improving this are a functional necessity rather than a luxury. And getting tips on how to carry boxes from an executive in head office isn't likely to go down too well, so better to encourage your non-desk employees to share their best tips and hints via your internal social communication platform so that other employees can learn from them.
Reading tip: 10 reasons why frontline workers need a social network
3. Encourage healthy eating and drinking
The way to someone's heart in through their stomach - it's also the key to your employees' health. In order to keep your employees feeling healthy and resistant, organisations have a duty to set an example to non-desk workers of what healthy eating and drinking behaviour looks like and to enable healthy habits. Did you know that healthy eating and drinking can reduce sick leave by up to two weeks per year per employee?
4. Stimulate employee engagement
In addition to paying more attention to physical health, looking after the mental health of employees is equally important when it comes to limiting absenteeism. Make sure your non-desk employees feel involved in their work. If the work environment is pleasant, if managers and employees are both genuinely interested in each other, employees will also feel better physically. This all increases not only their motivation to be present but also their productivity when in work.
One good suggestion for increasing the involvement employees feel is by making optimal use of your internal communication platform! For example, make sure managers regularly post updates of their teams' performance via the platform, tell your C-level executives to share financial results or changes to the strategic direction, and encourage your employees to contribute - whether that's sharing best practices, observations for improvements or just some fun anecdotes from the shop floor.
In short, let employees know that you love them, even if it's not Valentine's Day!