Many of us spend a significant portion of our lives in the workplace and, as health and wellness become more widely understood and emphasised, both employers and employees are working together to create positive work environments.
The health of the nation’s employees is not only a personal or professional issue but also an economic one. Mental health illnesses alone are said to cost the Irish economy over €8 billion every year, though absenteeism, loss of productivity and turnover.
Here are some of our tips to stay healthy and well at work .
1 Avoid the treat table
It can be hard to resist a birthday cake or a mid-week treat, but indulging regularly will leave you feeling sluggish and less energised.
By the same logic, including lots of healthy plants and grains in your diet will set you up well for the day and for life. It is well worth planning ahead for your lunchbreaks to make this as easy as possible!
2 Drink enough water
We all know that hydration is key to feeling well and energised, but it can be easy to forget to drink enough water when we are busy or focused. Rather than refilling glasses, try filling a large bottle of water each morning and keeping it on your desk so you can keep track of how much you are drinking throughout the day.
3 Protect your eyes
Eye strain can be a big problem for workers who spend a lot of time looking at screens. Consider your set up – can you dim your computer screen? Can you intersperse screentime with other tasks?
4 Take a moment and take a break
Taking a moment can help you stay grounded, think problems through, and react to issues in a smart and effective way. Whether it is considering an approach to a research problem, dealing with a difficult colleague or thinking outside the box, taking a moment to reflect will help keep you calm and effective.
Don’t forget to take a break from work. In general, you are entitled to a 15 minute break when you have worked for 4 ½ hours. If you work more than 6 hours, you are entitled to a 30 minute break, which can include the first 15 minute break.
You are also entitled to have rest periods between working days or nights. Your employer does not have to pay you for these breaks and they are not considered working time.
5 Move your body
Sitting in one position for long periods will cause aches and pains and leave you feeling sluggish. If your work is entirely computer-based, consider doing some stretches and exercises at your desk while you work.
6 Hygiene is key
Keep your desk and work area clean and hygienic to ensure that you and others in your workspace can stay healthy and well. Under health and safety legislation, both employers and employees have responsibilities around keeping the workspace safe for all.
Not only will a clean and tidy work area help keep you healthy physically, it will help you to focus and plan your work.
7 Take a holiday
Under employment legislation in Ireland, most employees are entitled to 4 weeks’ paid annual leave per leave year. Your annual leave can be calculated in a number of different ways. Making use of your holiday time will help you to avoid burnout and to maximise your productivity while you are at work.
8 Work-life balance
We all have lives outside the office and many of us have additional responsibilities outside work. There are lots of types of leave which employees can avail of in the workplace. This includes maternity leave, paternity leave, parental leave, force majeure leave, adoptive leave and carer’s leave.
It is worth familiarising yourself with the types of leave that are available to you to keep the balance between worklife and personal life.
9 Get to know your workplace
Most workplaces have specific policies around issues or processes that might arise in the workplace, such as complaints, grievances, disciplinary and performance issues, data protection and health and safety.
While many employees don’t think to review the workplace policies when they get started, being familiar with your workplace’s policies can be a huge help in avoiding issues, or dealing with them quickly if they arise.
10 Know your rights
There is a huge amount of legislation in Ireland around employment rights. Legislation deals with issues such as equality in the workplace (including at interview), pay and breaktimes, redundancy and dismissals and other matters. Your employer is obliged to provide you with a safe place and system of work and, happily, most employers work hard to make this happen. The more familiar you are with your rights, the easier it will be to recognise if these aren’t being upheld, and you need to take expert advice.
Hughes Murphy Solicitors can assist you with all your queries. Please call us on 1800 910 912 or submit our Contact Form to receive a call-back for more information.