Building a healthy work environment: header

Building a Healthy Work Environment: 45 Actions You Can Take Today

How can individuals help create a healthy work environment? Discover actionable workplace culture and employee engagement tips in this post.

Gabriele Culot
Written by Gabriele Culot
November 20, 2023

Key takeaways

  1. Small changes can trigger significant improvements. Change in the workplace doesn’t have to come from the top down, there are many actions you can take daily to help make your workplace better. Discover them here.
  2. Mental well-being, physical health, and workplace satisfaction are all elements that contribute to better work conditions and higher productivity. They should always be a priority when thinking about change.
  3. Every workplace and professional relationship is different. Understanding what changes are within your control and which ones will have the biggest impact on your specific situation is crucial to the success of your actions

A healthy workplace is vital to employee wellness, productivity, and success overall. A work environment characterized by open communication, teamwork, and initiatives focused on mental health can significantly impact job satisfaction, employee retention, and, ultimately, the organization’s bottom line.

However, triggering change at the organizational level is not always easy or quick, and cultural renovation can be challenging to roll out. This means workers are often left hoping for a better workplace while nothing around them seems to change.

We compiled a list of actions you can start taking to help improve the way you work and your satisfaction in the workplace. Find the ones that best fit your needs and your work situation and try them out. Start building a better workplace today.

I believe that culture change starts with the actions of individuals. If everyone sent one personal Slack message each day, that was just well-wishing, acknowledgment of someone, gratitude, etc. It would create small, subtle shifts or, at the very least, brighten someone’s day.

Sarah Schwab, Senior Content Writer, Deel

Promote open communication

Promote open communication to ensure team members and collaborators feel heard and valued. Transparent decision-making and regular check-ins create a healthy work culture, which is vital to workplace satisfaction.

Put these tips into practice to ensure open communication is at the core of your workplace relations:

  • Active listening: Give your full attention when others are speaking, nodding, and paraphrasing to confirm understanding when engaging in conversations.
  • Clear email communication: Write clear and concise emails, specifying the purpose of the message and desired action if necessary. Avoid jargon and acronyms to enhance understanding.
  • Feedback culture: Encourage feedback from colleagues and superiors. Acknowledge feedback positively and use it as an opportunity for growth and improvement. Don’t shy away from providing feedback when needed.
  • Document decisions: Clearly document your actions and work, and share them with the team. This ensures everyone is on the same page and reduces misunderstandings.
  • Practice empathy: Empathize with your colleagues’ perspectives and emotions. Understanding their point of view encourages open and honest communication.

Prioritize mental health awareness

Addressing mental health concerns reduces absenteeism and burnout, fostering a supportive atmosphere. While this can be a delicate topic, there are actions you can take and promote to ensure your work environment is a safe place to discuss mental health and foster positive behaviors.

  • Take breaks: short breaks throughout the day to relax, stretch, or practice deep breathing. Breaks enhance focus, reduce stress, and improve overall well-being. Encourage the people you work with to take breaks, too.
  • Normalize mental health conversations: Encourage open dialogue to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. Share news, initiatives, and awareness campaigns rather than push people to discuss delicate topics.
  • Adopt mindfulness practices: Introduce mindfulness practices, such as meditation or breathing exercises, during work hours. Good examples can go a long way, so start dedicating some time to mindfulness, and others will follow.
  • Recognize achievements: Acknowledge your coworkers’ accomplishments and milestones. Recognition boosts morale, increases self-worth, and positively impacts mental well-being.
  • Promote work-life balance: Encourage your coworkers to establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Discourage after-hours emails and excessive crunch time. As we already mentioned, a good example is contagious, so set your own boundaries and encourage others to do so as well.

Advocate for ergonomic workspaces

Ergonomic workstations create a comfortable setting, promoting a healthy lifestyle even in a busy work environment. Remember The Office episode where employees needed new chairs? Comfort and healthy habits deeply affect the quality of work and the overall work environment, so don’t underestimate them.

  • Proper chair and desk setup: Ensure your work setup allows you to set your chair height, desk height, and monitor level to maintain a comfortable posture. Yes, this goes for your home setup, too.
  • Use ergonomic accessories: Consider using ergonomic accessories such as keyboard trays, mouse pads with wrist support, and monitor risers. These items help maintain a natural hand and wrist position.
  • Embrace microbreaks to protect your eyes: Adopt the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break, and look at something 20 feet away. This reduces eye strain and prevents discomfort.

Eat healthy and stay active

Adopt (and promote) healthy eating habits and physical activity both in the workplace and remotely. These habits can help keep yourself and your team members energized and focused.

  • Eat nutritious snacks: Fruits, nuts, yogurt, and granola bars are great alternatives to junk food and sweets. Make sure your pantry is well stocked, or ask your facilities manager to provide healthy snacks in your office.
  • Stay hydrated: You may like to think so, but you are not entirely fuelled by coffee. Make sure you keep hydration in mind throughout the day, and invite your coworkers to join you for a drink of water (and a water cooler conversation).
  • Encourage healthy catering choices: When ordering food for meetings or events, opt for nutritious catering options like salads, grilled proteins, and whole-grain dishes instead of fried or sugary foods if you are a decision maker. If not, make sure your voice is heard, and ask for healthy options.
  • Promote walking meetings: Encourage walking meetings for one-on-one discussions or small group interactions. Walking not only promotes physical activity but also stimulates creativity and problem-solving.
  • Kick-off fitness challenges: Organize workplace fitness challenges, such as step challenges or workout competitions. Use fitness apps or pedometers to track progress and offer small incentives for participation.
  • Take stretching breaks: Encourage employees to take short stretching breaks during the workday. You can even book a meeting room for a few minutes and have your team join you.
  • Incorporate workplace yoga or pilates: Arrange weekly yoga or pilates sessions within the workplace. These activities improve flexibility, balance, and mental well-being.

Nurture teamwork and collaboration

Foster a sense of teamwork and collaboration by organizing team-building activities, both virtual and in-person. Strong teamwork enhances employee productivity and creates a positive work culture.

Worker communities have been a game changer for me. As well as making work days fun with word game tournaments, trivia quizzes, and similar activities. They foster bonding, unite people over a common goal, or engage them in healthy competition!

Danica Ristic, Senior Program Manager, People Development, Deel

  • Encourage idea sharing: Share your ideas openly and promote a culture where team members share their ideas and suggestions. Acknowledge and discuss these ideas to foster innovation.
  • Cross-training opportunities: Cross-training promotes a better understanding of team dynamics and encourages collaboration. Ask to shadow coworkers you would like to learn more from, find out about mentorship programs, and offer your expertise to help train others.
  • Encourage peer-to-peer recognition: Become part of a culture of recognition where team members appreciate each other’s efforts. This positive reinforcement boosts morale and strengthens team relationships. Recognize people’s achievements on public channels to help trigger this positive behavior at a broader level.
  • Team building activities: Organize team-building activities outside the workplace, such as volunteering events or recreational outings. These activities foster camaraderie and improve teamwork. If you are not in charge of organizing activities like these, make sure to ask for them regularly.
  • Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate team achievements and milestones. Recognize collective efforts to accomplish goals, boosting team morale and motivation.
  • Help establish team norms: Help your team develop team norms, outlining communication expectations, meeting etiquette, and workflows. Consistent norms create a cohesive team environment, and you can play a part in shaping them.

Manage workload effectively

Prevent burnout by monitoring workload and ensuring realistic expectations. Proactive workload management contributes to a healthier work environment and higher employee retention rates.

  • Prioritize tasks: Start your day by listing tasks in order of priority. Focus on high-priority items first to ensure essential tasks are completed efficiently.
  • Break tasks into smaller steps: Divide large tasks into smaller, manageable steps. This approach makes tasks less overwhelming and allows for steady progress.
  • Set realistic deadlines: Establish realistic deadlines for tasks and projects. Avoid overcommitting and ensure deadlines align with the complexity of the tasks.
  • Limit multitasking: Focus on one task at a time to enhance concentration and efficiency. Multitasking can lead to errors and decreased productivity.
  • Utilize to-do lists: Maintain a to-do list to keep track of tasks. Update it regularly and check off completed items, providing a visual sense of accomplishment.
  • Establish routine tasks: Set specific times for routine tasks, such as checking emails or returning phone calls. Having designated time slots prevents constant interruptions.
  • Use time blocks: Allocate specific time blocks for different tasks or categories of work. Time blocking enhances focus and ensures dedicated attention to each task.
  • Minimize interruptions: Minimize interruptions during focused work periods. Use "Do Not Disturb" features, close unnecessary applications, and inform colleagues of your focused work time.
  • Regularly review progress: Schedule brief progress review sessions throughout the day. Reflect on completed tasks, adjust priorities if needed, and plan the next steps.
  • Implement the Pomodoro technique: Work in focused intervals, typically 25 minutes, followed by a short break. This technique enhances productivity and prevents burnout.
  • Share your approach to work: Make sure you become an advocate for the approaches and methods that help you work better. Spread the news and make sure the whole workplace can benefit.

Promote healthy decision-making

Practice healthy decision-making, and encourage your coworkers to do so too, both at work and in their personal lives. Resources and methods for stress reduction, time management, and work-life balance empower individuals to make positive choices.

  • Pause and reflect: Take a moment to pause before making decisions. Reflect on the options, potential outcomes, and long-term implications. Avoid impulsive choices.
  • Gather information: Make informed decisions by gathering relevant information. Consult reliable sources, seek expert advice, and consider various perspectives before making a choice.
  • Consider consequences: Evaluate the potential consequences of your decisions. Think about how each option may impact your work, colleagues, and overall workplace environment.
  • Embrace flexibility: Be open to adapting your decisions based on new information or changing circumstances. Flexibility allows for agile decision-making in dynamic work environments.
  • Balance emotion and logic: Balance emotional intuition with logical reasoning. Acknowledge your emotions but strive to make decisions based on rational analysis and objective evaluation.
  • Consider long-term impact: Evaluate how your decisions align with long-term goals and values. Consider the sustainability and ethical aspects of your choices.
  • Review past decisions: Reflect on past decisions and their outcomes. Learn from both successful and unsuccessful decisions to refine your decision-making process.
  • Delegate when appropriate: Don't hesitate to delegate decisions when appropriate. Trust your colleagues' expertise and empower them to make decisions within their areas of responsibility.

Many different actions can lead to workplace health. While some may require a deeper commitment from the organization as a whole, such as employee wellness programs or healthcare-related perks, others simply require you to take action and can be initiated at the individual level, like ensuring you get enough exposure to natural light or have open and positive communication channels.

Start small, initiate the change that is in your power, and become an advocate to push bigger initiatives that are not in your control.

Building a better workplace with Deel

At Deel, we are passionate about making work work for organizations and individuals alike. From tools and solutions that enable employers to embrace the work-from-anywhere ethos to visa support for digital nomads, we help build better workplaces every day. Check out our blog to learn more about what we do, the future of work, and workplace wellbeing.

Looking to take your workplace improvement a step further? Take a look at the Deel Engage suite of Slack plugins and suggest them in your workplace. These are plugins designed to streamline and simplify team communication and processes, leaving you with more time and resources to build meaningful connections with your coworkers.

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