How you can make your office a healthier place

38262881_MSmall businesses often don’t have a lot of money to spend on employee benefits, let alone to start and run a wellness program. But there are some simple steps you can take to make your office a healthier place for all of your employees:

Stop offering candy and doughnuts. Studies show that office workers gain weight over time when there’s a candy bowl in close proximity. Or when there are free doughnuts each Friday. According to Cornell University, the average American worker is putting on five to seven pounds a year eating candy and other high-calorie treats at work. Consider replacing your candy bowl with a basket of fresh fruit or packaged healthy snacks.

Make meetings healthier. Consider offering bottled water instead of soda and ditching the doughnuts during meetings in favor of a healthier snack or lunch.

Don’t skimp on cleaning. Did you know that your office kitchen and break room can be as germy as the bathroom? Anywhere employees are preparing food or eating should be cleaned regularly. Clean the office coffee pot(s) each week with vinegar. Wipe down coffee pot handles, water machine buttons and door knobs that are used many times each day by different people. Make sure restrooms are cleaned each week.

Encourage employees to stay home when they are sick. Research shows that many employees worry about taking sick time when they are sick. Only about 16 percent of U.S. employees use all of their paid sick leave each year. About 45 percent of employees use only some of their sick leave and 32 percent don’t take any sick leave at all. Make sure your employees know they can and should stay home if they are ill.

Ask employees what they want. Most people these days are trying to be healthier. If you’re a business owner, why not ask employees what they think the company should offer? Discounted gym memberships? Walking sessions? Help from a healthy eating expert? What your employees consider important in terms of wellness may surprise you.