Eight easy ways to create and maintain a healthy workplace



Read time
5 mins

people eating healthy snacks

A healthy working environment is essential for a happy and productive workforce. But creating one doesn’t have to be hard – just follow our top eight tips for wellbeing at work

A healthy working environment is essential for good productivity, happy employees, low absence rates, and the all-round wellbeing of staff and managers. Fortunately, it’s neither hard nor expensive to make some small changes that’ll have a big impact; just follow our eight essential tips, and you’ll see positive results in no time.

1. Strike the right tone with a careful colour palette

The colours you choose to decorate the workspace can have a surprisingly profound effect on workers’ mood, creativity and overall wellbeing. Here are some you might want to try out:

  • Orange: often used in fitness centres, it's known to encourage energy and enthusiasm. Can be very effective when used sparingly, such as on accent walls, cushions and artwork
  • Red: increases energy levels, blood pressure and heart rates. Can also stimulate conversation and collaboration. Red is another colour best suited to careful, sparing use on accent features such as sofas and rugs
  • Pale blue: because it encourages focus and a sense of productivity, this is a great shade to use throughout a workplace

2. Enable healthy food choices

When feeling low in mood or energy, it’s all too easy to reach for a quick pick-me-up in the form of a sports drink, bag of crisps, or chocolate bar. But frequent snacking on processed, sugary or fatty foods will ultimately have a negative impact on your employees’ health.

If you’re fortunate enough to have a café or canteen on-site, think about ways to encourage staff to make healthier decisions when they choose their snacks or meals. Stock up on water or juice drinks over caffeinated sports drinks, and make sure fresh fruit is both widely available and competitively priced compared with sugary snacks.

Nudge theory can be a great way to encourage people to make food choices that are better for their long-term health: check out this guide from Irrational Labs for small but effective nudges you could introduce to guide people in the right direction.

3. Encourage movement

Public Health England recommends that adults do at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day, so encouraging regular exercise and activity is a great way of improving the general health of employees. Consider introducing a cycle to work scheme as part of your benefits package, organising sporting activities after work (such as football or netball), taking a stroll during your lunch break, or even simply encouraging staff to take the stairs rather than the lift.

4. Invest in supportive furniture

British people reportedly spend nine hours a day sitting day – with much of this sedentary time associated with work and commuting. With 8.9 million working days in the UK lost to work-related musculoskeletal disorders in 2016-17, the importance of investing in ergonomic chairs – and encouraging staff to maintain good posture – cannot be underestimated.

There is a growing trend of employers investing in standing or treadmill desks, but so far academic research into the potential benefits of standing rather than sitting at work has proved inconclusive.

5. Decorate with living plants

Having plants around the office not only improves the appearance of the workspace, but also assists with improved employee productivity and health . Check out our top seven benefits of having plants in the office.

6. Put on some music

Listening to music triggers the release of dopamine, a feel-good chemical, putting us in a better mood.

Music can also be a great motivator and concentration aid – particularly if you work in a busy, open-plan environment. Before you boot up Spotify, though, consider the feelings of your co-workers: will they appreciate listing to the new Taylor Swift album on hard rotation all week? If not, plug in a pair of good-quality noise-cancelling headphones, so they can work in peace – and so can you.

7. Deploy good lighting

Natural light is preferable for most workers – and especially for migraine suffers, who may find that harsh fluorescent lighting triggers their attacks. Make sure that lights are positioned so they don’t reflect off other objects, because this can cause eye strain and headaches.

8. Offer free fruit

Ditch the traditional workplace ‘cake altar’ and offer your employees free fruit to snack on instead. Fruits that are particularly beneficial for your health include:

  • Apples – important for colon health and controlling blood sugar levels, apples are also a good source of vitamin C
  • Cherries – have the highest concentration of anthocyanins 1 and 2, which help block enzymes associated with inflammation
  • Grapes – loaded with vitamins A, C, and B6, and folate, as well as several essential minerals
  • Blackberries – are rich in the antioxidant lutein, which helps promote eye health

This article was first published in April 2014. It was updated in July 2018 for freshness, clarity and accuracy.