Small actions can make a huge difference in improving employee health. We know this. That’s why Sunset Hill Stoneware takes a lot of little steps to improve our employees’ lives.
Consider implementing these tips at work to improve employee health for you, your coworkers and your whole company.
1. Encourage Good Mental Health Practices
With the rise of work-based chat services like Slack and Microsoft Teams or having work email on mobile devices, it’s becoming harder and harder for employees to unplug. This leads to burnout, job dissatisfaction and the worsening of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. The consequences of burnout are long-lasting and include anything from excessive stress up to heart disease.
Separation is more necessary than ever. Discourage your team from answering emails or messages outside of work. Unless it is an actual emergency on the level of your office burning down or flooding, it can wait. Waiting to respond can also reduce the risk of making mistakes or giving wrong information.
This is also why it’s important to provide enough paid vacation time and personal days throughout the year. This way, everyone gets a chance to have a getaway, take care of personal matters or even just take a few days for their mental health.
More and more doctors today recognize the connection between a healthy mind and a healthy body. Work with your human resources team to develop ways to promote a healthy work-life balance, and you could see far-reaching benefits that improve your whole team’s performance.
2. Promote Cleanliness
Cleanliness and health go hand in hand. Plus, keeping things clean is a subtle way of promoting safety and improving morale.
In some areas, the benefits of having a clean space are obvious. Nobody likes it when the communal microwave smells like old salmon, or when there has been a loaf of bread sitting unused in the refrigerator since 2008. Keeping the lunchroom or kitchen clean keeps people from complaining, which is always a plus.
However, there are other benefits that improve employee health, too.
Sunset Hill Stoneware has a custodian come into our shop every night to clean. However, we also encourage our crew to clean up their work spaces at the end of the day. That way, they have a clean surface to return to the next morning. We also have a crew come to our offices once each week to empty garbage cans and replenish our bathrooms.
Some businesses have their employees clean up the office each week on a rotation. Although it takes extra time, it encourages everyone in the office to respect the shared space and be conscious of how they leave their work area. So, you might consider having one person assigned to clean the bathroom each week, while another person could empty garbage cans and another could vacuum.
It pays to keep work spaces clean. However, this doesn’t mean you should stifle individualism or creativity. Avoid limiting employees on how many personal belongings or decorations they can keep on their desk or in their office, or this could have the opposite effect and make your team miserable.
3. Use Safe Movement Techniques
The best way to move or work isn’t always instinctive. But, knowing the safest way to walk, carry objects or move at work can save you and your team from injury and improve employee health at your work overall.
At Sunset Hill Stoneware’s pottery shop, we have a few different ways to make our jobs safer for our whole team and prevent them from getting hurt. We use special platforms so our potters don’t have to bend as far to lift slugs of clay. We also teach them the correct ways to pick up entire shelves full of mugs and how to handle the kilns safely. Considering that these involve hot temperatures and electrified metal coils when they’re on, making sure they know how and when to take the stoneware mugs out of the kiln is a matter of safety.
Lifting correctly is also important, especially for heavy or bulky loads. Managers should encourage anyone who lifts in their job to do so with their legs. Plus, there are correct ways to carry heavy items like boxes of product. Be sure you team knows what these are to keep them from getting injured.
In some cases, you or your team might also want to use lifting belts. Popular in warehouses, these braces promote safe lifting techniques and also provide lumbar support in the back to prevent injury.
There are other ways we use to promote safe movement and control that are unique to Sunset Hill Stoneware’s industry, too. Our master potter, Jason Sonsthagen, teaches our potters how to safely move their arms when they’re throwing your stoneware mugs. To do this, he shows them how to position their arms and back for every piece of stoneware they make.
4. Promote Good Posture
Even something as simple as sitting, standing or lifting product a different way can reduce pain, so you can improve employee health in the long term. Although it might not seem like it would make much of a difference, even moving your shoulders back or sitting taller can reduce pain and even prevent chronic injuries.
Whether you work at a desk or you’re on your feet all day, making these adjustments may save thousands of dollars in medical bills later on.
In Sunset Hill Stoneware’s office and shop, we have different tools for promoting good posture. Our sales team and other office staff use specially designed chairs to help them sit up straight and reduce chronic back pain. They can adjust their chairs to any comfortable height while they help our customers find the perfect mug style and color for their brand. There are other tools they can use to help them sit straight and tall as well, like cushions.
At the shop, every member of our crew works with their hands all day. To keep them from having to bend constantly, we use high tables to avoid shoulder and back injuries. We also use cushion pads on the shop floor, to prevent conditions like plantar fasciitis in the feet. With many of our teammates standing and walking constantly at work, this small addition can make a difference when they go home every day.
5. Safety Training
Several times each year, Sunset Hill Stoneware invites Fox Valley Safety & Training to teach our employees safety techniques in a range of different scenarios. Some of the topics we’ve covered with them this year include CPR training, how to use fire extinguishers, active shooter training, ergonomics and more.
Safety training programs like this from a certified instructor can keep your team prepared. Preparation prevents people from freezing up in crisis situations and makes dangerous mistakes less likely. It also keeps emergencies from turning into disasters.
For example, everyone at Sunset Hill Stoneware learned what to do in the event of an active shooter. We also learned what not to do. In a fluid situation like this, some people tend to freeze due to shock. Instead, we learned possible ways out of both the shop and the office, plus ways to protect ourselves and fight back to escape as a last resort.
If someone on the Sunset Hill Stoneware team has a medical emergency, many of us are now certified to use CPR and administer first aid. The training for this course also taught us how to use an AED machine to revive a person.
It’s unlikely that our employees will need to use most of what they learn in these training programs. This training has taught us that each situation is fluid and unique. But, if we ever need to use what we’ve learned, we can all be prepared for any emergencies that might arise.
Health should be promoted at all levels of the workplace. Whether it’s working to improve our policies on vacation days or even just promoting good posture, Sunset Hill Stoneware is proud to foster healthy initiatives in our business.