By Swati Kapoor

When employees choose to work for a startup, or any employer, often the benefits and perks that are offered sway the decision of where to work in a sea of employers. Employees today are health conscious and by encouraging fitness among employees, an employer can make the brand a highly attractive place to work.

An increasing number of startups are realizing the benefits of employee fitness and how it can lead to happy and efficient workers who are then able to perform their best. Here are eight ways in which startups can show employees they value their health.

1. Encourage Exercise at Work

If any employees bike to work make sure you provide a securing parking area for those commuters. Many employees go to the gym during their lunch break and ideally, the workplace should provide shower facilities and even locker rooms. If possible, there should be a gym at work that employees can join for a possible additional fee, but if this is not an option, then consider bringing in a weekly or monthly yoga teacher or aerobics instructor to hold group classes.

Along with being a great bonding experience for the workforce, it is a great way to spread awareness of the benefits of yoga or tai chi, for example. Yoga is known to be a great way for employees to clear their head and this is especially beneficial when working with unprecedented amounts of data in a startup environment. Keep these classes after work or even during the lunch hour to boost productivity during the day. An added step would be to offer fun incentives to employees who attend these classes.

2. Check Your Lunch Time Options

Many employees want to stick to a healthy diet but are unable to do so because of limited or only oily eating options being available in the workplace. If the office provides a canteen with a buffet style lunch, try incorporating healthy eating options such as salads and soups. It has been found in research that employees who work out regularly and eat healthy take fewer sick days and bring energy into their workplace.

3. Healthy Snacks

If you have vending machines around the building try to stock them with healthy options along with the standard chocolate bars and snacks that are usually found in them. Instead of only offering sugary sodas, try offering small milk cartons, healthy juices, sparkling water and instead of offering only chocolate bars try stocking vending machines with dried fruits as well as nuts.

These nutritious options will boost your employees’ energy levels while aiding their health. It’s also worth stocking lunch areas with fruit baskets daily or weekly for an added boost to your employees’ health.

4. Bring in Educators

Often, people simply don’t know how to stick to healthy eating habits as they lack the knowledge and technical know-how. Bring in speakers to spread awareness of how to cook healthy meals at home or while traveling.

Since many people indulge in unhealthy eating habits while under stress, it would be worth investing in a great stress management speaker to come in now and then to give educational talks on the topic. When a startup begins to grow, it only adds to stress levels and it’s important to tackle this potentially deadly symptom head-on.

5. Don’t Ignore Mental Health

Stress is a very real issue in the workplace today. When ignored, stress has been linked to high blood pressure, insomnia and heart disease. All of these health issues can lead to employees having to take time off work and becoming inefficient in their role.

It’s important to offer employees counseling facilities, or assistance with issues such as depression. In a startup it’s common for stress levels to be high especially at the early stages when the business is still being established.

6. Provide a Doctor at Work

Have a doctor visit the workplace once a week or every so often. Employees should be able to schedule check ups in advance. Employees will be encouraged to schedule such routine check ups especially if these don’t count as time taken off work.

Along with increasing productivity among workers, having a doctor visit the workplace will see the startup’s reputation soaring as it will become known as a great place to work. When employees see their firm cares about their health, it does wonders for their morale.

7. Vaccinations

These are especially important during flu season. It takes just a single person to catch the flu for an entire group to fall ill, and absence in large numbers is something a startup can definitely not afford to have on its hands.

It’s important to offer on-site flu vaccines for all employees to prevent mass absence which could have an impact on the business. It is worth finding a health insurance which would cover vaccination as this is one of the best investments that a startup can make.

8. Rewards

There is no faster method of encouraging fitness around the workplace than a rewards program. This could mean offering financial incentives or other prizes, perhaps on a monthly basis, for employees who display healthy behavior. It could mean having a healthy body mass index, excellent blood sugar or blood pressure levels.

Fitness has a direct impact on overall health and since a vast majority of our day is spent at the workplace, it’s only natural for a startup to incorporate fitness into their company’s structure. Improving employee health is beneficial not only to the individuals who benefit but also to the company itself.

Good health leads to increased employee productivity along with high employee morale which means fewer employees take health-related leave. A healthy, happy and productive workforce are essential for any startup to be successful.