When employees are mentally and physically fit and healthy, they gain more control over their lives, have better relationships with the management and co-workers at work, and they easily leave home issues at home, and work issues at work. They strike a good work-life balance.

Healthy employees are less stressed out (they also handle stress more efficiently), and they feel motivated. While you might not notice it, this increases their productivity significantly. Studies also show that employees who work out at for at least 30 minutes daily are less exposed to illness which results in absenteeism.

So, as an employer, what are some of the things you can do to help your employees stay healthy?

1. Give health-related incentives

You can create an incentive or reward program to encourage your employees to stay healthy. The incentives need not be expensive. For instance, you could give an employee who worked harder in the gym a $10 gift card or give an extra vacation to that employee that lost the most weight.

Mark Andrus and Stacy Madison, owners of Pita Chip Company offer a $500 annual benefit that is applied towards anything related to fitness and health. Such incentives will encourage employees to begin some healthier aspects.

2. Offer your employees healthier eating options

Providing healthier eating options to your employees is another excellent way to encourage healthy lifestyles. You can do this by, for instance, stocking your firm’s cafeteria with healthy foods such as vegetables, healthy snacks, fruits, and lean meats. Make the healthier meal options more appealing, and even offer discounts. For every employee who wants to follow a healthy nutrition program at the workplace, www.Lifetoliveit.com gives several ideas of low-fat, low-carb and high-protein quick and easy protein snacks.

You may also decide to have a catering firm bring in healthy meals, say, once every week. Better still, like Dan Santy, owner of Santy Advertising does, give your employees the right healthy snacks during breaks. This way, you will be showing them how much you care about their health, and how important it is for them to make the right food choices.

3. Support your employees to stop bad habits

One firm, Headsets.com, did not have a lot of money to promote fitness and a healthy lifestyle among their employees, but they focused on starting small initiatives that had a significant impact on their health and wellness in the long run. For example, the company began giving free nicotine patches to employees who wanted to quit smoking and installing software on each employee’s computer reminding them to stand and stretch at some point during the day.

The company also started a weight loss program by using an iPhone app. The program saw three employees lose a collective 125 pounds.

You may also support your employees’ weight loss endeavors. For instance, provide on-site peer-to-peer group counseling and start fitness teams that encourage your staff to participate in at least one exercise every two days or every week.

4. Host team events that need physical activity

Be creative on your team-building events; set them such that everyone increases their physical activity. You can even go ahead and make competitions out of them so that they are more fun. For instance, you could play soccer or go hiking together. These kinds of events are not only good for your employees’ health and fitness, but they also foster a sense of teamwork.

Also, you can encourage your employees to have regular group exercises like jogging, yoga, or running after work or during days-off.

5. Provide short breaks and longer lunch hours

Let your staff take brief breaks throughout the day to rest mental muscles and reduce stress. A 2010 study found out that employees that are given brief breaks improve their focus, sense of responsibility and tasks for extended periods.

Most companies give one hour for lunch, but this can be very short for an employee that needs to go for a run, do some stretching exercises or go to the gym. Give your staff members the option of longer lunch breaks, and making up for the time later. This is especially helpful if you have gym facilities on-site.

6. Make partnerships with studios and gyms

This way, your employees will have easier and cheaper access to a variety of gym facilities and services like coaching. These days, a lot of gyms and fitness centers are partnering with firms, and many employees are gaining a lot of health benefits from physical activity which indirectly contribute to productivity and profitability.

You can also partner with nutritionists and dieticians who you will regularly invite to emphasize the necessity of proper nutrition besides also teaching your staff how to cook easy, delicious, and healthy meals.

With these simple, easy and affordable ways, it is possible to create a healthier work environment with a minimal budget that encourages your employees to stay fit and healthy. Having happy, fit, and healthy employees means productivity which, in turn, brings profitability.