Why flexible hours leads to healthier employees

- April 6, 2017 2 MIN READ

World Health Day tomorrow marks a great time for small business owners to take a look at their own work-life balance as well as the well-being of their employees. Work-life balance specialists, SeventeenHundred 2016 survey showed that almost a third of respondents (32 per cent) were most interested in quick and healthy meal recipes.

Being time-poor has now turned into “time poverty”, with the research suggesting that having access to healthy living and time saving tips for meals, including preparation, is a helpful and holistic package to support employees.

“Having the time to fit in work with exercise and have a quick nutritious meal is a real challenge,” one survey respondent said. “I used to love cooking but just don’t have the time any longer.”

Fiona Hitchiner, Work-Life Specialist and Director at SeventeenHundred, says, “Employers are interested in supporting the health and well-being of their employees. There is a great potential for employers to provide information on healthy eating plans and preparing wholesome meals, especially for employees on a time budget.”

The top five work-life challenges employees face are: time management, exercise, work, cooking/diet, and sleep. Based on the survey responses, it would seem that many Australian employers are not aware of the strain that employees face in meeting their nutrition and health goals.

Hitchiner says that for small businesses in particular, it’s about implementing a supportive culture. “The easiest thing that small businesses can do (that won’t actually cost them anything) is to normalise flexible work so that staff have the opportunity to focus on their health and wellbeing. If staff can block out time in their diaries to go for a swim at lunch, or come to work an hour later to go to the gym in the morning (and then stay at work an hour later), the actual productivity of staff will improve as they are healthier and in better moods from enjoying a better work-life balance.

“If a staff member comes to work an hour later after visiting the gym and experiences a snide comment from a manager or co-worker, they will be less inclined to continue to do so, and the benefits of allowing flexibility in the workplace will be lost. And on a nutritional side of things, a simple – and yet very effective strategy – is to put a coffee machine and bowl of fruit in the staff kitchen; a far healthier (and not expensive) alternative to that coffee-and-muffin run in the morning!”

And when it comes to business owners themselves, Hitchiner says it’s about putting an emphasis on their own value and importance.

“Small business owners need to understand that their health is actually one of the most critical assets a business has, and being unavailable for a couple of hours through a week in order to maintain that asset is every bit as important as any business meeting or project.”

Looking for inspiration for a quick and healthy lunch? Discover how to make a Black Quinoa, Spinach and Apple salad here

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