Although most work environments don’t require inspections and maintenance for safety standards, there are many signs of a healthy work environment that can guide leaders on where they can improve. Employees come with all kinds of health backgrounds, needs, and stages of life that need to be supported in different ways.

7 Signs of a Healthy Work Environment Leaders Can Support

Favoring a healthy environment in one way may not be suitable or even applicable to every employee. Thus a variety of factors can be done at once. When employees see the efforts of their leaders being applied to an all around health work environment, their motivation and ability to perform increases, thus supporting a better workplace for everyone.

Signs of a Healthy Work Environment Our Clients Enjoy

Here are some not so common signs of a healthy work environment that leaders can implement if not in place already.

  • a completely smoke-free campus
  • flexible break times allowed for moderate physical activity
  • new ways used to help employees feel safer at work
  • giving away fresh fruits and vegetables to employees on a regular basis
  • giving gifts or rewards that are health or wellness related
  • weekly “walk with the CEO” lunches
  • organized lawn games and activities

RELATED: 7 Ways How Senior Leaders Can Communicate Support For Their Company Health & Wellness Program

A Completely Smoke Free Campus

Regardless of your local laws and ordinances about smoking areas, even second hand smoke near building entrances is harmful to passers by. Establishing a smoke free campus benefits everyone and is one of the best signs of a healthy work environment. This can be done to support both tobacco users and non-tobacco users alike.

Ensure that your work culture supports the health and well-being of employees that are working toward quitting tobacco, while also not negatively judging the choices of those who wish to continue smoking. Simply have resources and support any employee on this journey where they are at and where they wish to go.

non smoking campus sign of a healthy work environment

Flexible Break Times For Moderate Physical Activity

It shouldn’t be expected that breaks can only happen at certain times and in certain ways. Letting employees be able to do more than just sit in the break room creates a healthier atmosphere with more options. Seeing employees often moving is one of the best signs of a healthy work environment.

  • Is the weather bad this morning? Let them have a longer break this afternoon when the sun comes out in order to go for a walk.
  • Is a certain gym class only held at a specific time next door? Let them choose the time when they can attend for half an hour and bulk up their break time to be able to stay longer.
  • Do you have busy times and lag times during your company’s work day due to customers or deliveries? Allow your people to have their breaks during the lag times so there is less pressure to get back to their station because of the workload.
  • Does a group of your staff want to play touch football on the lawn for a bit today? Arrange the schedules so they can hang out together and enjoy the activity.

These are just a few scenarios that may be options in your situation. Ask your employees when they’d prefer to take their break and see how you can help accommodate them and encourage more physical activity as well. Movement is shown to boost happy hormone levels, so the more you have that in your workplace, the happier your employees will be too.

RELATED: 50 Office Challenge Ideas Including Office Fitness Challenges for 2023

New Ways Implemented to Help Employees Feel Safer at Work

There are more ways for employees to feel safe than just implementing OSHA standards. Safety is not only physical safety due to equipment, extreme working conditions depending on the job sites, or large heavy workloads that bring increased risk. Though all of those are very important, safety needs to be considered in other ways as well that are not just physical, but mental and emotional as well.

  • digital safety with personal information and online stalking
  • sexual harassment safety and respect no matter the relationships
  • transportation safety to and from the worksite location
  • communication and boundaries safety among coworkers and leadership
New Ways Implemented to Help Employees Feel Safer at Work

In order to better understand the needs of your employees in these areas, information will likely need to be gathered anonymously in order to protect those seeking greater safety in certain areas.

  1. Poll or survey your employees anonymously to see what areas to improve. You can use questions like these to address their concerns.
  2. Consider all of the feedback and not just what may seem the most extreme or dominant with the responses.
  3. Create policies or action plans to put into place addressing the concerns.
  4. Train your employees on the new ideas and roll them out.
One of our employees here at Wellsteps shared a simple story in this area. She worked at a grocery store as a teenager and often worked late into the night until the store closed at midnight. Because of local activity in the neighborhood and incidents that had happened, many of the employees were very cautious when going out to their cars after work.

So the management implemented a policy with the night shift employees. If anyone was heading out to their vehicle after dusk, no matter the time, another male employee in management would walk them to their car or watch from the door to ensure they got into their car safely to head home. She was grateful and felt more comfortable leaving after work, and felt cared about by her company leaders. 

RELATED: 19 Healthy Work Environment Examples to Upgrade Your Employees’ Physical Well-Being

Fresh Produce Given to Employees on a Regular Basis – One of Our Favorite Signs of a Healthy Work Environment

Everyone knows, it’s the area where we all need to do better when it comes to healthy eating. Although you can’t force your employees to eat better, having the right foods given to them certainly makes it easier. Help them steer away from the donuts at Monday morning meetings.

Oranges as holiday gifts doesn’t have to be restricted to December. Have monthly “thank you” gifts to employees with fruit baskets or veggie platters. Have your organization join a local co-op to get produce distributed much cheaper while supporting local businesses and farms. This is one of many great signs of a healthy work environment.

fresh produce given to employee as a sign of a health work environment

Health & Wellness Related Items For Rewards

When the holiday raffle or milestone party has fitness swag or massage gift certificates, everyone gets a little more excited than just hoping for the Chili’s gift card. Change up your gift giving or rewards and incentives with more health and wellness related items for your employees is one pf our favorite signs of a healthy work environment.

  • gift certificates to the spa
  • a gym membership or family fitness pass
  • workout clothes or outdoor gear
  • paid visit to a local chiropractor or physical therapist
  • subscription to online mental health services
  • high quality water bottles or cookware
  • tickets to a local attraction that involves physical activity
  • passes to a nearby national park
  • a high quality lumbar pillow or heated blanket

Even better, ask the individual employees what they would want for their respective awards they’ve won or achieved. Then get them exactly what they want! They won’t be disappointed in unmet expectations and will also feel valued because what matters to them in their health and well-being matters to you as their employer or company leader.

RELATED: How to Improve Job Satisfaction in Your Organization

Weekly “Walk With the CEO” Lunches

This idea hits three birds with one stone: it gets members of your organization out and about with physical movement, creates connections and engagement with leadership, while also helping employees feel valued enough to be heard and seen. This one is very unique of all signs of a healthy work environment.

Every week, give employees an opportunity to have lunch with their CEO and go on a walking “meeting” where they can discuss ideas and build bridges. One common complaint of employees everywhere is that they feel their upper level leadership does not care about their role in the company.

Weekly "Walk With the CEO" Lunches

This defeats that paradigm while improving the relationships, skills, and well-being of all involved. Make the groups small enough that each employee can easily take part in a discussion. Depending on the size of your organization, other top level leaders can take part as well. Or employees may not have a rotation to participate for six months or more, but the intention is still happening.

Organized Lawn Games and Activities

In a perfect world, every workplace would have a great outdoor space. If yours does, take advantage of it! Not everyone needs to be a fitness fanatic to go outside and play on the grass and have a good time. Put together opportunities for everyone to move and laugh while playing games or just enjoying the sunshine.

  • frisbee or badminton
  • touch football or soccer with a big beach ball
  • horseshoes or cornhole
  • basket weaving or flower arranging on the lawn
  • races on hippity hops or pogo sticks
  • boccie or lawn darts

Make sure that knowledge of these activities is well known if your organization is large, such as inside of emails newsletters or on department announcement boards. Having top leadership and managers playing games too is a great sign of a healthy work environment. Use activities as part of your wellness program challenges or competitions where they fit.

RELATED: 8 Desirable Benefits of Corporate Wellness Challenges for Employees

How to See More Signs of a Healthy Work Environment in Your Organization

By no means do you have to have all of these items in place in order for your work environment to be considered healthy. There are foundational aspects of your company’s health and wellness program that are an absolute must. But knowing what those things are can be confusing if you’re just starting out.

Here at WellSteps we can guide you through every steps of the process in creating a healthy work environment no matter where you are at. Click here for a free demo and discover what’s possible for your organization. Soon you’ll have signs of a healthy work environment before you know it!

About The Author

Dr. Steve Aldana

Dr. Aldana is the CEO of Wellsteps, a worksite wellness solution that leads the nation in wellness program deployment and engagement. Dr. Aldana authored over 75 scientific papers and 7 books on health risk management, healthy living, and health promotion programs. He has given over 350 keynote speeches across the U.S. on the ability of good nutrition and regular exercise to prevent, arrest, and reverse many chronic diseases.