Hydration is crucial for a healthy and balanced lifestyle. A constant water intake regulates our body temperature, improves the oxygen flow to our brain, and delivers essential nutrients to our cells. And these are just some of the countless benefits of staying hydrated throughout the day.
As we spend a significant chunk of our life working, encouraging hydration in the workplace should be a no. 1 priority for any business and organization. Not only should an employer always look after the health of its workforce, but also because dehydrated employees tend to be less focused and productive than well-hydrated ones.
Let’s analyze why ensuring that your workers prioritize better hydration in the workplace is crucial and what steps you can take to achieve this goal.
The Importance of Staying Hydrated While Working
A 2022 study analyzed the prevalence of headaches in a sample of workers from different companies and found that almost half reported experiencing this problem at work. It’s also been observed that migraines can significantly impact an employee’s productivity, reducing efficiency and increasing absenteeism. While there are multiple reasons workers, experience migraines, and while certain people experience this condition more than others, insufficient fluid intake can improve your workers' likelihood of headaches.
According to Harvard’s Chief Medical Editor, when fluid shits out of the brain because of dehydration, it exerts traction on the meninges, thus stimulating pain receptors. He adds that a dehydration headache will probably go away in one or two hours after you drink 16 to 32 oz of water.
Improved Short-Term Memory and Attention
Poor hydration can also affect workers’ ability to remember things and focus on tasks. A recent study highlighted that even minor dehydration could compromise brain functioning. The study involved more than 100 adults. It tested participants’ weight loss and their ability to remember a list of words after spending a certain period without drinking water. After only an hour and a half and an average 0.22% loss of body weight, there was already a noticeable negative impact on memory and attention, which increased even more after four hours and an average 0.72% loss of body weight.
It’s obvious how a reduced ability to remember information and a decreased focus on one’s task are not only unpleasant for workers but can severely hinder their work performance. Yet another reason why encouraging better hydration among workers is essential for any organization.
Faster Reaction Time
Interesting findings were also reported in an article published by the science section of The Telegraph. They are the result of a study conducted by researchers, who discovered that those who drink a pint of water before performing mental tasks had 14% faster reaction times than those who didn’t.
The study, published in Frontiers of NeuroScience, measured the Simple Reaction time (SRT) of 34 participants twice. The first time participants were given 500 ml of water before the test, while the second time, they weren’t given any water. It also found that reactions were even slower among those already thirsty before the test was conducted. Therefore, we can deduce that better-hydrated workers are prone to react much faster to inputs and perform their tasks more efficiently.
Better Mood and Lower Anxiety
Finally, ensuring your workers are properly hydrated can significantly reduce anxiety and improve their mood. This, in turn, positively affects their performance and ability to communicate and get along with their colleagues.
A study conducted in 2014 found that higher water intake leads to lower tension, more happiness, and more calmness. It also highlighted that participants tend to feel more anxious and stressed when water consumption is reduced. A stress-free and peaceful work environment is also a more cooperative and productive.
What Do Stats Say About Hydration in the Workplace?
Unfortunately, recent findings show that only a minority of workers are properly hydrated. A survey conducted on 1,000 US workers and published in an article by PÜL Hydration highlighted that only 23% drink sufficient water during the day.
The report then focused specifically on the adverse effects of dehydration on reaction times. That’s because lower reaction times can increase the risk of work-related injuries, which cost $171 billion to American employers in 2019 alone.
How Can You Encourage Your Employee to Drink More Water?
The most obvious way you can increase hydration levels among your workforce is by motivating them to drink more plain water. Here are some tactics that can help you achieve this result.
Educate Your Workers on the Benefits of Hydration
The list of hydration benefits that we provided earlier is a good starting point for teaching your employees why they should drink enough water throughout the day. Many workers drink water or other fluids only when they feel thirsty, unaware that dehydration may affect their performance before they notice it.
Use company meetings, social media channels, and flyers to explain to your workforce how drinking water regularly can improve their mood, attention, reaction time, and, ultimately, performance and happiness.
Install Water Coolers
Ensuring water is easily and quickly accessible from every spot of your office, factory or store is a very effective way to increase water consumption among your workers. Coolers are particularly effective as they give employees access to fresher and tastier water.
Reduce the Availability of Sodas
Easy access to soda, coffee, and tea can hurt hydration. That’s not because these beverages increase dehydration but because they may cause your workers to urinate more or drink less water due to thirst-quenching.
Introduce Water Breaks and Hydration Reminders
Establishing regular intervals at which your employees are mandated to take a 3-minute pause and drink water is also an effective way to increase water consumption among your workforce. Another strategy is to send your workers regular emails, texts, or chat messages through the company’s channel to remind them to pause what they’re doing for a sec and have a glass of water.
What Other Types of Food and Beverages Can Improve Hydration?
Plain water is not the only fluid that can increase hydration among your workers. Some workers are also more motivated to drink or eat things that taste better than “just water.” For example, providing your employees with easily-accessible infused water can give them a delicious alternative to plain water bottles or coolers. Look for brands that give water that enjoyable, extra taste without adding calories, sugar, or calories. As each worker has different preferences, make sure you have various flavors available in your place of work, such as lemon, mint, and cherry.
Another great way to boost hydration among workers is increasing the availability of hydrating fruit in the workplace. For example, watermelon and cantaloupe have more than 90% water content. Peaches, apricots, blueberries, and oranges, with 80% water content, are also a great addition to your workers’ diet.