- Wellness has become a key strategy that workspaces and organizations use to attract and retain top talent in a global economy.
- But before you start introducing nap pods and meditation sessions, there are some fundamental wellness elements to get right first.
- Here, we run down the top 3 essentials every workplace should have in place to create the right environment for a successful wellness strategy.
The workplace wellness economy is valued at around $47.5 billion. It’s a small number when one compares it to the financial burdens and losses created by unhealthy, stressed, and burned-out employees.
Luckily, organizations worldwide have already begun to take steps to change this, and many are implementing various workplace wellness programs aimed at improving the work experience and contributing to the overall health and wellbeing of employees.
Workplace Wellness, Done Right
Wellness at work took off in recent years. Organizations, now more than ever, are fully aware of how employees’ overall wellbeing can positively or negatively affect business outcomes. Plus, wellness has become a key strategy organizations use to attract and retain top talent in a global economy.
But, as wellness has increased in popularity, so have the various wellness offerings that could be potentially implemented in the workplace.
While nap rooms, fitness classes, meditation sessions, free food, and flexible schedules become the hype in this arena, organizations cannot lose sight of the most fundamental elements that must be part of every workplace wellness strategy.
For the above programs to work and have the desired impact, organizations must first ensure that the most essential elements of wellness are in place in order to create the right environment for employee wellness.
Think of it this way: have you ever had a plant that doesn’t grow or flower even though you’ve been watering it and feeding it like you should? The culprit could easily be the space or environment you’ve set that plant in.
Humans, to a certain extent, work the same.
We need to be in the right environment in order for our bodies and mind to function at their best. If we’re not, then no matter what we do, the results won’t be as expected. This is one of the reasons why air quality is so important at work.
The 3 Essentials of Workplace Wellness
1. Natural Light
Natural light is among the things workers want the most from their workplace. Access to natural light has been proven to have various benefits like improving our mood, boosting energy levels, improving our circadian rhythm — which helps regulate our sleep and metabolism, and increasing productivity, among many other advantages.
Suggested Reading: “Natural Light: The Secret Ingredient for a Happy Workplace”
Depending on your workplace building, location, and layout, you may find it difficult to provide all employees with enough access to natural light. If this is the case, then here are 11 ways you can maximize natural light in the workplace.
Another strategy you can implement if you find that you don’t have enough windows or that your building simply doesn’t let much light in throughout the day is to use smart lighting that mimics the natural course of daylight. This type of lighting also allows users to personalize light intensity and color.
2. Plants and Biophilia
Human beings crave a connection with nature. In fact, studies have found that a connection with nature is vital to maintaining a healthy and vibrant existence, particularly in an urban setting.
A built environment that successfully brings nature inside can help with emotional restoration; reduce stress, tension, anxiety, and fatigue; improve mood; and elicit positive emotions.
Biophilia creates better, happier built environments.
There are various ways to incorporate biophilia in the workplace. Some of the most common methods include:
- Providing a visual connection to nature, this can be done through windows or paintings of natural panoramas.
- Providing a sensory connection to nature through sound or smell, like a pink or white noise system that uses bird sounds and candles or air fresheners of natural smells (rosemary, wood).
- Incorporating water elements in the workplace, such as a small fountain or simply an audiovisual display of water running.
- Incorporating plants throughout the workplace. It’s especially important to use variety and to make sure you’re using plants that can survive in an indoor environment. Here are the top 7 best low maintenance plants for the workplace.
- Use natural materials and decor or those that mimic natural elements. Wooden desks, textured wall panels, stone decorations.
3. Noise Management
Noise is one of the main drivers behind inefficiency at work and one of the main causes of workplace dissatisfaction. But beyond making us less productive, unwanted noise levels are detrimental to our overall health and wellbeing.
Because noise is distracting and makes it harder for people to concentrate and work, it indirectly raises stress and anxiety levels.
Research has also linked poor office acoustics to high blood pressure, digestive disorders, headaches, hypertension, and ulcers. It has also been linked to “cardiovascular disease, hormonal changes, psychosomatic illnesses, sleep disorders, reduced physical and mental performance, aggression, constant feelings of displeasure and reduction in general well-being.”
Managing noise in the workplace is a tricky task, as it requires that organizations think about the source of the noise (HVAC systems, people, computers, printers, etc.), but also about how sound reverberates and moves around in a given space.
Once you have these three essentials in place, you’re ready to start implementing complementary programs and strategies to address wellbeing in the workplace.