By Joel Vento

Last year, employees with poor health had a negative impact on workplace productivity in the United States to the tune of more than workplace productivity. That statistic takes into account much more than the occasional sick day, or time off for surgery. Instead, this Gallup poll also included information from employees who had chronic illnesses, including diabetes, heart disease and asthma — or were obese or overweight. These health issues can inhibit a staff member’s ability to juggle tasks, and keep him/her feeling sluggish and drained throughout the day, making it difficult for them to become productive employees.

As an employer, you might think your hands are tied when it comes to keeping your employees in optimum shape. Luckily, there are plenty of initiatives you can take to promote a healthy lifestyle in the workplace, and they’re all fairly easy to implement, whether you run a restaurant, retail store or office.

1. Stock Up on Snacks

The brain performs better when it’s well-fed. If an employee runs out of the house without eating breakfast, or forgets to bring a lunch he/she packed the night before, chances are he/she will have a harder time maintaining focus and keeping stress at bay as the day goes on. Keep whole wheat bagels and fresh fruit on hand for a healthy and versatile snack a worker can nibble on the way back onto the sales floor, or the restaurant kitchen room after a team meeting. These snacks give a quick boost of energy without the crash that follows when you munch on baked goods or candy. To save a little bit of cash, get a company card at Costco, Sam’s Club or any other store that sells bulk goods at a wholesale value.

2. Take a Break

You can break up the monotony and encourage healthy competition among employees by offering them an incentive they can’t help but want: paid time off. It might seem counterintuitive to think that time off will increase productivity, but according to offering them an incentive, “spending less time at your desk forces you to waste less time.” Reward productive employees with an afternoon off to recharge, or simply encourage your staff to take a few minutes every afternoon to turn off their computer screen, walk outside and get their blood flowing.

3. Keep Them Comfy

It’s easy to neglect the importance of posture, especially if your office has had the same trusty old chairs for about a decade, or your average employee spends a lot of time on his/her feet. Over time, poor posture can result in musculoskeletal disorders that may lead to time off, or chronic pain while performing work-related tasks. Ergonomic seating can help prevent this, and provide relief from symptoms that already exist.

4. Offer Weekly Fitness Classes

A daily regimen of 30 minutes of exercise is an effective way to sharpen focus and improve mood, but not every workplace has a gym on site. Small companies can accommodate employees by paying for membership at a nearby fitness center. The easiest way to alleviate employee stress is to have a professional host brief yoga or meditation sessions after work. You can even encourage an employee to teach a program if it’s something he/she is familiar with.

5. Invest in a Massage Chair

The restaurant industry is a fast-paced whirlwind of servers, bussers and cooks who it seems are always on their feet, whether they’re weaving their way through dozens of tables with armfuls of plates and food, or standing over a hot grill. Set up a massage chair in a quiet part of your business, and watch how employees become increasingly upbeat and productive.

Healthy snacks and fitness classes are just a couple ways to contribute to the nutritional health and physical wellness of your workforce. When your employees feel as if their needs are met — and even exceeded — they’re more inclined to be upbeat, engaged and productive on the job. With that in mind, raise a glass of organic coffee, and make a toast to employee health.