Globally, there has been a stagnation in labor productivity around the world since its spike in 2020. After increasing the gross domestic product (GDP) per hour by 4.5% in 2020, the numbers have slowed down and stalled since 2021. The Conference Board predicts this productivity stagnation to last in 2022 as well. While factors affecting productivity growth mostly point towards experiences during and post-pandemic, one significant and often overlooked factor affecting a company’s productivity is employee health.

Keeping track of a company’s productivity boils down to awareness of individual employee productivity, and what can be done or changed to improve it. As businesses across different sectors recover from the pandemic, focusing on employee health can go a long way in boosting company productivity. Here are some ways in which employee health affects productivity:

Mental health

It should go without saying that mental health affects the way people work, and how efficient they are. The pandemic saw a rise in work-from-home and remote work arrangements for most employees. While this change came with some productivity boost, people also noted feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety regarding the pandemic while from the usual office environment. Traveler and writer James Gonzales notes that most “knowledge workers” have embraced work-from-home or remote work setups, as their jobs don’t need specialized equipment or tools to get done. However, this means you’re not communicating with clients and teammates face-to-face — which can be detrimental to mental health, as you may be isolated from your community.

Ensuring healthy minds among employees starts with open communication. Managers should strive to cultivate an understanding that each individual employee may struggle with different things mentally. Prioritizing your workforce’s mental health — that is, making sure employees are happy during and after work hours — will mean increased efficiency and productivity in the long run.

Physical health

Upholding the importance of physical health among employees is another factor that impacts company productivity. Healthier employees result in increased employee attendance, and eventually, productivity. In workplaces where specialized equipment or tools are required, healthy and fit workers are less likely to get into accidents that may injure themselves or others around them. For that reason, investing in an employee wellness program and encouraging your employees to engage with them will keep productivity rates up in the long run. We discussed the importance of motivating employees to keep up with wellness programs in a previous STEPPI blog post, and the role that communication and leadership play in encouraging participation.

Combining wellness with technology, companies can also invest in smart apps such as STEPPI, in which employees are incentivized based on how active and healthy they are. This approach promotes friendly competition among employees, along with a gamified approach to staying physically healthy. This encourages employees to participate in wellness programs, and even team up with each other for group goals, letting them embrace collaboration and teamwork.

Healthy work culture

A mix of both mental and physical health, establishing a healthy work and company culture will benefit employees and increase overall productivity. Where mental and physical health focuses on the individual conditions of each employee, a healthy working culture involves building an environment in which employees feel safe and included, so that they can better collaborate with each other and work more efficiently. Businesses that champion diversity and inclusion create a positive impact on employees’ willingness to work and be productive. On top of race and gender, creating a safe space for employees with disabilities, for example, gives businesses a competitive edge as they open access to an untapped talent pool.

A report from PageGroup finds that barely half of disabled people are in work. While the widespread adoption of work-from-home setups benefited many from the disabled community, business leaders who aren’t afraid to make changes to adapt to the working needs of disabled employees have a better chance of attracting new talent and accessing new markets.

This article specially written for By Lily Noah

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