“Start with good rules, lay out the rules, communicate with your employees, motivate them and reward them. If you do all these things effectively, you can’t miss.”
-Lee Iacocca

Healthy WorkplaceAs we learn to be brutal with wastes like over-inventory and sending half empty trucks on deliveries, we need to remember that some of the worst kinds of waste happen right in front of us, day after day. Unhealthy and stress filled workplaces inevitably waste countless hours in lost productivity, sick days, and low morale.

Here are a few ways that you can both reduce waste and make happier employees at the same time:

Encourage Exercise:

The modern world seems built to condone sedentary lifestyles. Diabetes, obesity, smoking, and stress cost governments and businesses billions of dollars a year and cost the people afflicted with them much more.

The best solutions are also the simplest, and even a minimum of effort can help combat these patterns. You don’t need to be punitive; the best results come from positive encouragement and gentle nudging. As a good leader, you can help your team break out of unhealthy lifestyles for everyone’s benefit.

It’s as simple as encouraging everyone on your team to exercise 30 minutes a day. Whether that’s allowing a walk at lunch or recognizing people who choose the stairs over the elevator, it can go a long way in decreasing stress and increasing overall focus and productivity.

Work/Life Balance:

In the frenzied pace of the past 30 years, employees have often left their home life behind as they struggled to climb the ladder. Now, the results of that relentless unbalance are becoming clear. Stress reigns as a key detriment to health and wellness.

Younger employees are increasingly wanting to keep a balance. People are searching for a way to balance goals and priorities in and out of the workplace, and parents are wanting to spend more time with their growing kids.

Savvy employers are actively on-board. A healthy work-life balance makes us more creative, productive, and keeps us physically healthier. The broad array of benefits stem from the right mindset in the workplace.

Here are a few easy ways to encourage this:

  • Stop emailing them at night, and ask all employees to do the same. Leave that time for them, and encourage them to put their smart phone away during those hours
  • Be flexible with work hours. Be the boss who makes exceptions for piano recitals and birthday parties.
  • If someone isn’t taking their holiday time, encourage them to. They may not think they need to, but they need to rest. Workaholism doesn’t help anyone in the long run.

Smoking as Waste:

quit smokingIt’s a personal decision to smoke, but a 2013 Ohio State Study quantified its real cost to private US businesses. The 2013 study concluded that, on average, smokers cost employers $5,816 a year. Based on business and industry, it ranges dramatically from $2,800 to over $10,000 a year.

Time is the biggest, and most obvious, waste directly from smoking. While other employees take scheduled 15 or 30 minute breaks, smokers will often either “tack on” an additional 10 minutes to existing breaks or take extra breaks just to go outside.

While this isn’t all smokers, it’s a strong enough majority to be quantified in the study. The average was just over $3,000 of cost annually per smoker just in wasted time, with an average of 4 extra 10 minute breaks per day.

Talk to your smokers honestly, and encourage them to quit. Don’t threaten them, work with them. If you crunch some numbers and determine that a monetary reward is worth it, then do that. But often just knowing you’re on their side will give them the will to quit on their own.

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