Workplace Wellness: Forget The Perks, Remember The Basics

Some of the most basic and important factors contributing to employee wellbeing are being overlooked.
  • A Future Workplace Wellness Study found that the most important factors contributing to employee wellbeing are being overlooked. 
  • More than two-thirds of employees would accept a new job or stay at their current job if their workplace supported and enhanced their health and wellbeing.
  • Companies need to go back to basics by focusing on air, light, and temperature, which have the biggest influence on employe health, productivity, and engagement.

Future Workplace and View recently published the findings from its workplace survey “Future Workplace Wellness Study”. The survey of over 1,000 professionals that work in corporate environments revealed that the factors contributing the most to employee wellbeing are being overlooked. 

The rise of workplace wellness stems from the fact that companies need to design workplaces that support wellbeing and comfort in order to attract and retain top talent. According to View and Future Workplace’s survey, more than two-thirds of employees (67%) would accept a job offer or stay at their current job (69%) if the company provided a workplace that supported and enhanced their health and wellbeing. 

Organizations aren’t just concerned about attracting and retaining talent, but also about overall company performance. The survey found that “organizations with 10,000 knowledge workers could lose more than $34 million/year in productivity from poor wellness in the physical workplace.” Wellness is a priority for businesses, and in the United States alone employers are expected to spend an average of $3.6 million on wellness programs in 2019. 

Suggested Reading: “What’s behind the Increased Attention to Wellness?

Unfortunately, these wellness programs are not providing the desired results. Instead of focusing on offering gym memberships, fitness facilities, tech-based health tools, and the like, the survey found that businesses should go back to basics. 

The Workplace Wellness Triple Threat

The survey found that air, light, and temperature have the biggest influence on employe health, productivity, and engagement. 

Suggested Reading: “3 Invisible Elements that Greatly Impact Workplace Productivity

In fact, those surveyed stated that:

  • Temperature and air quality matter more than having gym facilities
  • 50% said that poor air quality makes them sleepy throughout the workday
  • Only 1 in 3 workers said that their workplace temperature is ideal for doing their best work
  • 33% lose more than 60 minutes of work per day due to physical and environmental factors
  • 50% want to see their companies improve air, light, and temperature in the workplace

When asked which environmental aspects in the workspace most affect their performance, happiness and workplace wellbeing, here’s how employees rated each aspect as their top three factors (of nine).

The report notes that while companies have been making great strides environmentally, many are not addressing the negative environmental conditions that persist inside their own buildings. 

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Back to Basics

Environmental discomfort from poor lighting, temperature, and air quality, lead to poor wellness factors that negatively impact physical, environmental, and emotional wellness in the workplace. Therefore, organizations should prioritize:

Clean, quality air 

  • Only 1 in 4 employees say the air quality in their office is optimal for them to do their best work
  • 45% say their companies could improve their wellness by providing fresh and allergen-free quality air
  • Nearly 1/2 of employees say poor air quality makes them feel sleepy throughout their workday
  • Almost 1/3 experience itchy, watery eyes or throat irritation at work
  • 85% say the air quality in their home or outdoors is better than at work

Suggested Reading: “Top 9 (easy) Ways to Improve Workplace Indoor Air Quality

Natural light

  • Nearly 40% think their companies should provide access to views of the outdoors. Often potential views are covered by shades and blinds
  • 1 in 3 call out access to comfortable light (intensity and color) as important for their daily health

Comfortable temperature 

  • 1/3 say it is continuously too hot or too cold in their offices

Reduced noise levels

  • Nearly half are distracted by co-workers’ conversations
  • More than a third say sounds like phones ringing, typing on keyboards, and heating and cooling systems negatively affect their concentration at work
  • 37% want their company to create an environment with low noise levels and sound privacy.

Suggested Reading: “The ABC of Acoustics: 3 Ways to Reduce Noise in Open Workspaces

One way companies could solve some of these issues is by allowing employees to personalize their workplace environment. In fact, the survey found that workspace personalization is a high priority issue for employees; to put it into perspective, 42% want the option to adjust their personal workspace conditions while only 28% want an unlimited vacation policy and 29% want a pet-friendly policy.

Workspace environment aspects that workers would like to personalize in order to improve workplace wellness

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