Staying hydrated has long been known to have numerous health benefits, from regulating body temperature to weight loss. However, research over the last decade has shown that adequate hydration also has a major impact on workplace productivity. Mental performance, for example, decreases by as much as 10% when the body is dehydrated, and according to the UK's National Hydration Council, up to 1 in 10 fatigue-related doctor's consultations could have been avoided if the patient had been keeping up their fluid intake. Health-related absences cost Australian employers up to $33 billion per year in lost productivity, so there are obvious benefits in encouraging your employees to drink more water. Here are four ways to keep the fluids flowing in your workplace.
1. Provide an appropriate water supply
According to Personnel Today, workplaces should provide an easily accessible and "appealing" water supply so that employees are not put off drinking water while on the job. Also, the Victorian Trades Hall Council advises that the law requires employers to provide access to clean drinking water that is separate from "toilet or washing facilities," so directing staff to use the nearest kitchen sink is a no-go.
2. Provide adequate breaks
Most workplaces allow their staff to access the kitchen facilities at any time. However, in some industries, such as call centre environments, staff are not permitted to leave their workstations outside of designated break times. WorkSafe Victoria recommends that workers in these environments are given a five-minute break each hour to access drinking water. Workers who cannot be given frequent breaks should be encouraged to carry a water bottle with them at all times.
3. Water Wednesdays
Over in the United States, the California Department of Public Health promotes 'Water Wednesdays' as an innovative way of regularly reminding workers of the importance of staying hydrated. Each Wednesday, employees are encouraged to replace all sugary drinks with plain water, and staff set timers at regular intervals to remind themselves to take a sip.
4. Find food-based alternatives
Up to 30% of the body's required daily fluid needs comes from the food we eat. This is why the oft-cited recommendation to drink eight glasses of water a day is misguided - while our bodies certainly require 2.5 litres of water per day to stay hydrated, not all of this comes from fluids. For this reason, The HR Booth recommends employers provide staff with easy access to fresh fruit to snack on throughout the day. Not only will this help your employees meet their fluid needs, but there are other health benefits from increasing fruit consumption, too.
By taking just a few simple steps, it is easy to play your part as a responsible employer and help your staff stay hydrated.