Young woman drinking water from a glass in her kitchen

Science-Based Health: The Critical Link Between Hydration and Employee Well-Being

Why Is Hydration Important?

Hydration is an important part of health and wellness.

Water is essential for our bodies to function properly. We’re made up of about 60 percent water. It plays a crucial role in maintaining our overall health. Many people don’t realize it, but dehydration affects how you feel.

This is because water supports a variety of bodily functions, including:

Regulating Body Temperature

Your body responds to an increase in temperature by sweating. Sweat is mostly made up of water. As it evaporates from the skin, it cools the body. The moisture absorbs heat from the body, reducing its temperature. 

Additionally, water plays a role in respiration and urination. When we breathe, water evaporates from our lungs. When we urinate, water is expelled from the body. Both of these functions regulate body temperature.

Lubricating Joints

Keeping joints well-lubricated is an essential part of feeling good. When joints aren’t lubricated, you’ll experience friction between your joints and bones. Water acts as both a lubricant and a shock absorber, reducing wear and tear on joints. 

Additionally, water transports nutrients and waste products in and out of joints. This ensures proper nourishment and removal of toxins.

Cushioning Internal Organs

Water also provides a cushioning and protective effect for organs.  

Organs need to be protected from impact and friction. Water absorbs the force that movement exerts on the organs. This prevents damage and injury so they can function properly. 

Additionally, water also helps to maintain the shape and position of organs. This also ensures they are properly supported and can function as intended.

Supporting Digestion

Water plays a role in every phase of digestion. It aids in the breakdown of food and the body’s absorption of nutrients.

Young woman drinking water from a plastic bottle in a locker room

This begins when you first take a bite. A properly hydrated body produces saliva, moistening the bite of food and making it easier to swallow. As the bite travels down your esophagus and into your stomach, water softens it, breaking it down even further than chewing.

Once food enters the small intestine, water dissolves the nutrients and transports them into the bloodstream where your body can use them.

Water also softens and bulks up stool, making it easier to pass through the large intestine and preventing constipation.

Additionally, water flushes waste and toxins from our bodies.

Dehydration can lead to various health problems, many of which directly affect an employee’s job performance. Dehydration can cause: 

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Dry skin
  • Constipation
  • Unclear thinking

Severe dehydration contributes to serious health concerns, such as kidney stones and urinary tract infections.

Staying hydrated is vital for both physical and mental health performance, as well as for maintaining optimal health. It’s an essential part of being able to perform nearly all jobs well.

The Role of Water in the Body

Water supports many of the body’s most vital functions. It’s essential in supporting the functioning and structure of the body’s cells. It helps in transporting oxygen and nutrients to the cells. It also flushes toxins out of cells.

All of this allows the body to perform all its functions throughout the day, from digestion to breathing and thinking.

Dehydration Symptoms

Dehydration symptoms vary based on how severely someone needs water.

Mild dehydration decreases urine output and changes the color of urine. You might feel thirsty by the time moderate dehydration develops.

Some mild dehydration symptoms aren’t that noticeable but can affect job performance. For example, you might not think as clearly or respond as quickly if you’re mildly dehydrated.

Moderate to intense dehydration causes:

  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Extreme thirst
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Dry skin
  • Sunken eyes
  • Inability to sweat

The earlier you recognize symptoms of dehydration, the better. If you treat it early, simply by increasing water intake, you can alleviate the mild symptoms and prevent the severe symptoms. If you believe you or someone you know is severely dehydrated, seek medical treatment immediately.

How Dehydration Affects Employee Performance

Dehydration significantly impacts employee performance. How so?

When you’re dehydrated, you feel fatigued and have difficulty concentrating. You might experience decreased mental health and cognitive function.

It’s easy to understand how this can affect your job no matter what you do for a living. When you have a hard time with decision making, you’re likely to make mistakes and, in some cases, put your safety or the safety of others at risk.

Everyone knows they aren’t able to perform their best when they’re feeling sick. Fighting off a cold or contracting a more serious illness might not prevent you from showing up at work and getting your job done, but it certainly means you won’t do your job as efficiently or effectively.

Dehydration can trigger many of the same symptoms as being ill. When you’re dehydrated, you might have a headache or feel dizzy.

Your thinking might be fuzzy. You’ll feel run down and irritable. And much as it does when you’re coming down with a sickness, it affects your ability to perform your job.

Dehydrated employees are less productive, less efficient, and potentially dangerous.

Group of happy coworkers

Benefits of Keeping Employees Hydrated

There are several health benefits employees experience when they are hydrated. These include:

  • Improved cognitive function and concentration
  • Increased energy
  • Reduction of injuries 

How to Promote Employee Hydration

There are several things employers can do to promote employee hydration. For example:

  • Provide convenient access to clean, filtered water
  • Encourage regular water breaks throughout the workday
  • Offer a variety of options for employees who don’t like the taste of water
  • Provide employees with reusable water bottles 

How to Make Hydration a Priority in the Workplace

It’s helpful to get employees excited about drinking water and staying hydrated. To do this, consider:

  • Educating employees about the benefits of hydration
  • Setting a good example and encouraging supervisors to demonstrate good hydration habits
  • Implementing a rewards program for staying hydrated 

Keeping employees hydrated isn’t easy. Busy workers often forget to stop and drink water.

The important thing for employers is to do all they can to provide clean drinking water and encourage good drinking habits.

Reinforce the importance of staying hydrated and help employees prioritize drinking water while on the job.

By offering employees easy access to drinking water, you are removing at least one of the barriers to keeping them hydrated.

For more information or to learn about tools that can help you keep your workforce hydrated, contact us.