An average employee spends around 12 years of their lifetime at work, or around 90,000 hours, if you like. Not exactly a trifle, is it?
In the past few decades, corporate life has taken its toll on the health of the general world population.
Good hygiene standards curbed some of the deadliest illnesses from the past centuries. What’s under attack today is our immune system.
And the number one enemy is the modern lifestyle. The major part of it actually being our bad day-to-day office habits.
To a degree, our immune system is still a mystery to modern science. But what it has confirmed is that it guards us against a range of diseases, from the common cold to cancer.
If you implement a good employee care program you will produce the healthiest possible workforce. If you don’t, you run the risk of being responsible for your employees’ poor health. Plus you’ll be sabotaging your own business along with it.
It’s not a secret that we are as strong as our immune defenses are. Then how strong do you want your workforce to be?
Here are some office habits that threaten to destroy your employees’ immune system and some ideas on what you can do about it.
1. Eating Unhealthy Food
People might blame their character for eating unhealthy, and that might as well be fair. But we also have 9 to 5 working hours and prevalence of processed foods all around us.
How many of us can resist pastries, high-fat fried foods, desserts or sugary drinks especially when we need something to keep us going?
Working 9 to 5 equals skipping an early afternoon home-made meal. And what we’re left with are much less healthy diner meals and fast food options. Fast foods and refined sugars fill us up with empty calories, robbing us of necessary nutrients.
A disturbing German study found that fast-food diet causes inflammation in the body. It also changes genes and has a long-term impact on our immune system.
What we propose to you as a business owner is investing in an office canteen that will offer healthier food alternatives. Or you can start a series of lectures and workshops to educate your staff on how to choose healthier snacks.
Also, set up seminars on how nicotine and heavy drinking are detrimental to our immune defenses.
2. The Infamous Sedentary Lifestyle
Here comes the infamous one, and the one we should primarily dread since what we’re mostly doing in our office is… well, sitting.
Working at our desk jobs, we often bring our physical activity down to the level of a long-forgotten childhood memory.
Experts are tirelessly warning us of catastrophic consequences of sitting too much. Are we being serious enough when considering something that can destroy our health and shorten our life expectancy?
Alan Hedge, a design and ergonomics professor at Cornell recommends making two-minute breaks every half an hour to walk around and stretch your legs.
But what can you do about it? Encourage your employees to change positions at their desks. To get on their feet and take frequent short breaks. And why not think about an occasional meeting on your feet?
To advocate active lifestyle, organize interesting and engaging corporate sports activities. Or follow the example of Twitter, which among other perks, offers free yoga classes to their employees.
3. Workplace Stress Where More is Less
There may be other work-related problems, but stress must be the most widespread. We’ve all seen it, we’ve all sensed it and we all know how it feels.
Psycho-neuro-endocrino-immune system is a specialized medical term for what we usually refer to as immunity. But unlike other specialized medical terms, this one’s quite transparent and tells us a great deal about human immunity, don’t you think?
So, it’s not merely our physical habits, as it’s widely believed, that pass the verdict on our immune system’s destiny. It’s our mental and physiological habits as well.
Stress in low doses can motivate us and increase alertness. But working in a consistently stressful environment can bring about a host of health issues. Higher susceptibility to cold and flu, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, to name but a few.
Chronic stress is known to elevate cortisol levels. High levels of the hormone prevent the infection-fighting T cells from doing their job. But even a short-term stress like meeting an unreasonably tight deadline can be just as bad, this time in terms of hindering learning and memory.
It should come as no surprise that work-related stress can provoke a general anxiety disorder. It’s characterized by overwhelming anxiety that interferes with daily functioning. Roughly 14% of Australians suffer from GAD yearly. Unfortunately, this condition can oftentimes result in workplace disability.
And let’s not forget the fact that as the stress indicator jumps up dangerously high, the productivity indicator drops precariously low. Look more deeply into the subject by examining this chart.
So in order to manage stress in your office, adopt a good stress-management policy. Focus on sustaining a positive and collaborative working atmosphere. And if you notice a member of your team being unusually stressed out or blue, advise counseling.
Consider scenting to help your team de-stress and feel more relaxed. Fresh & Clean scenting program makes available to you a wide range of essential oil blends. Chose the ones that suit and soothe you and your employees most.
4. Inadequate Office Hygiene
We may not be thinking about it, but computer keyboards, door knobs, tap handles and lift buttons are all hotspots for germs. If you’re not aware of these things, your office could turn into the microbes’ breeding ground.
Although it doesn’t affect the immune system directly, inadequate hygiene makes things much worse. If your staff’s immune system is already weakened by other influences, an unclean office could strike the final blow.
If you don’t keep your common surfaces clean, your office will be swarming with viruses and germs in no time.
Poor office hygiene can wreak havoc on your employees’ health. Germs spread fast and can make the cold, the flu and other infectious diseases a common thing in your office.
This may sound unsettling. No worries though. Equip your office with hygienic products such as instant hand sanitizers and reduce the spread of infection. Combine with Fresh & Clean’s surface sanitizers and our gentle hand sanitizing creams and turn your office into a much safer and healthier place.
5. Not Enough Rest
Working until you no longer have to introduce yourself, working your head off, working till you drop, working till you start pining for the fjords? Does this sound familiar?
Long working hours are not an exception in the modern capitalist world. We’ve all felt the weight of overworking on our shoulders. Not fun at all.
Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School says that, “If you consistently work long hours, you will get ill, be that physically or mentally.”
Working overtime can drain us physically and emotionally and affect our productivity in the long run. A European study found that people who work more than 10 hours a day have a 60% greater risk of developing angina pectoris or having a heart attack.
And the question is: when you’re resting are you actually resting? Or are you reaching for your mobiles to check just that one email, a facebook message or a twitter post?
In order to function well, we must learn to unwind and reboot. But what about turning off?
According to a 2017 study, not getting enough sleep suppresses our immune system, making us susceptible to all sorts of diseases.
How can you fix this? Well, don’t pressure your employees to work overtime. Especially if it’s objectively too much work for one person to handle. Let your employees know that they are most productive when they have a good balance of focused and relaxed periods during the day. Provide your employees with a beautiful and comfortable lounge area.
6. Bad Office Relationships
You certainly don’t want your staff to dread coming in Monday morning. Well, if you don’t manage your office relationships, this will become your harsh reality.
These are the complicated emotional things. So you need to develop a sharp eye for all those intricate nuances of human relationships. You also need to become an expert in judging people well.
Regardless of their type, bad or toxic relationships are known to be damaging to human health. Marital relationships have the strongest power over us. However, long-lasting bad office relationships are also very harmful.
Toxic relationships cause high levels of physical and emotional stress and often lead to sleep disorders. Perpetual exposure to them keeps us in the state of constantly elevated adrenaline levels. This leads to chronic fatigue, weakening of the immune system and a variety of physical illnesses.
Dr. Steve Albrecht, who teaches stress management programs in San Diego, says toxic relationships are often dominated by hurtful remarks, constant sarcasm, belittling behaviors or passive-aggressive interactions.
According to a 2015 research, around 9.7% of Australian workers reported they had been bullied in past six months relating to the research period.
The research concluded that acts of office bullying are related to poor psychological health. Other causes include unhealthy competition and feelings of mutual envy.
To deal with bad office relationships create a strong, supportive environment. Set a good example and treat each co-worker with respect. Encourage fair play and honesty.
Sanction office bullying rigorously and resolve conflicts fairly. Initiate co-worker hangouts and social events to bolster social bonds.
Break the team building monotony. Be creative! Gather your team around imaginative activities. This will help them connect and think out-of-the-box. Investigate a murder crime at a team building lunch, run a marathon, make a cardboard boat or even craft your own robot.
7. Spending Too Much Time Indoors
Most of our time we’re either in the office, in a restaurant or a car. We’re commuting by public transport, shopping in the supermarket or doing our household chores. It seems we can’t escape the vicious circle.
But how exactly is this relevant to our health? Well, it has a lot of repercussions.
Firstly, spending too much time in enclosed areas deprive us of vitamin D coming from exposure to the sun. A Copenhagen study found that 80% of the population suffers from vitamin D deficiency.
The study explains that vitamin D is crucial for activation of our immune system. Getting exposed to the sun is the natural way of maintaining sufficient levels of the vitamin. So next time you make a decision not to go out, you should know you are putting your health at risk.
Secondly, there’s a rising concern regarding the Sick Building Syndrome (SBS). The syndrome is thought to be caused by poor ventilation and airborne particles. The symptoms are headaches, shortness of breath, low concentration and even nausea.
Want to clear your office air? Open windows as much as possible to let the air circulate. Get air fresheners and install them in most of your office rooms.
Fresh & Clean has a unique offer for you, though. We offer you the world’s first oxygen based dispenser. Get our Oxy-Gen Air Fresheners to reduce carbon footprint in your office and earn your GreenStar building certification.
Start Having Better Habits At Work
All taken into consideration, it’s not easy to keep our immune system at bay. All the threats an office environment poses to our health could make us feel things are beyond our control.
But things are in your hands! Our suggestions are simple and not that far-fetched. So go on and follow them. Show how much you care about your employees’ health and make your company stand out.
Give us your confidence, as more than 48,000 Australian businesses already did. We will provide you with a custom-fit program that will lead to an improved health and safety at your office.
Speaking in medical jargon, as an executive, you are your company’s Helper T-Lymphocytes. The central command of your company’s immune system army.
You are the one sitting in the command room and it’s your business to guard it well. So do it. Call Fresh & Clean now. Let us pair up with your company’s other managing policies to form the first line of your company’s defence.