The idea that workplace satisfaction is closely tied to employee productivity and length of employment is both common sense and has been proven through careful, scientific study.
Workplace leaders themselves often make major decisions about career based on perks that affect their ability to work in a way that suits their personal style. Despite this, great numbers of workers express dissatisfaction in their workplace environments that lead to distraction, lack of comfort, and, sometimes, even health issues.
Resistance to Improvement Costs Employers in the Big Picture
An organization known as the Building Research Establishment (BRE) surveyed a notable number of workers in the United Kingdom and found that nearly 60% of workers were not satisfied with the conditions of their workplace for a number of reasons.
The BRE also documented that, when confronted with information about an unsatisfactory workplace environment, many companies were resistant to invest in change. However, taking a caring approach towards workplace wellness is likely to pay off in surprising ways.
The choice to not invest in a healthy work environment is likely to cost a company more in lost potential than the cost of the investment in the first place. Long-term studies undertaken by Carnegie Mellon University’s Centre for Building Performance and Diagnostics have shown that minor benefits (such as windows that can open to allow fresh air inside) can contribute to productivity increases of up to 15%. With this being only one factor of workplace wellness, the statistics make it easy to see how much there is to be gained from caring for the physical space of your workplace.
Reasons to Invest in Workplace Satisfaction
Productivity isn’t the only factor to be considered when deciding on workplace improvements. Health, of both employees and management, is on the line in more ways than one.
A major study performed in the mid-90s revealed a close tie between office air quality and the number of respiratory illnesses contracted by staff working inside the building. Air ducts, because of the costs associated with cleaning them out, are often overlooked, becoming dirtier and seriously impacting the long-term health of everyone in a workplace.
Two other issues that can affect workplace wellness in ways both physical and mental are Vitamin-D deficiency and lack of movement.
Thankfully, these issues can often be solved with a “two-birds-one-stone” approach. Natural light being allowed into workspaces where available is, of course, ideal, but many office desk locations are simply removed from natural lighting by the nature of building design. Therefore, finding a way to utilize a sunlit lobby, conference room, or, better yet, outdoor gathering place as a break location can encourage employees to be less sedentary while ensuring they are getting more sunlight, which encourages healthy levels of Vitamin-D.
Showing you care for your employees is profitable, ethical, and respectful. Beyond the immediate benefits to health and productivity, it also has the benefit of earning your business the reputation of being an employer willing to hear its employees concerns and act in the interest of their well-being. With this in mind, it’s worth considering some other ways that a business like yours can make employees happy at work and healthier too.
Practical Solutions for Employers
Many techniques for improving workplace wellness involve little more than planning and time investment. Steps in this direction can be things like ensuring computer screens are aligned to the right height for each employee, or selecting health-conscious options when ordering conference catering. Often, all it takes is making room for employee needs in order for them to be met.
Other decisions are more significant and may require some monetary investment. For example, choosing to purchase adjustable office chairs for workers instead of basic models is likely to cost more, but is also much more likely to prevent distracting pain, sick days, and even long-term injuries that reduce productivity and harm employee happiness.
Similarly, choosing to invest in breakroom snack machines that stock fresh fruit and drinks is a choice that is likely to pay off in multiple ways; not only will employees get more rich sources of energy throughout the day, employees who are working late or forgot a lunch will be able to have nearby sources of nutrients instead of just refined sugar from a soda machine.
Maintenance, as mentioned above, also has a major effect on workplace wellness. It’s very easy to pass on routine maintenance under the assumption that nothing is wrong, but doing maintenance prevents larger issues from piling up. Maintaining water and air systems has the immediate effect of protecting workers from sickness, but it also prevents major matters, like mold in air ducts or rust contaminated water, from ever becoming an issue.
In the end, showing your employees that you care pays off for your business. In addition, building a trusting, mutually caring relationship with your employees builds better morale and leaves you with peace of mind in knowing you made an ethically sound decision.
Take care of your employees, and they will take care of you.