Rachel Howren of FCA explains the value of a well-being approach as an incentive to encourage employees to come back into the office in 2023.
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While it is important to design a workplace with purpose, we can’t overlook one that focuses on the health and well-being of the occupants. So why haven’t more companies made the shift to a highly valued experience? This may be partially due to the overwhelming amount of information, research, and data that has come out since 2020, a lot of which is conflicting and daunting. Companies are unsure of where to start or are hesitant due to fear of making the wrong decision. That said, creating a workplace that focuses on well-being can act as the needed incentive to encourage employees to come back into the office.
Better Working Conditions = Less Stress = More Productivity
Throughout the pandemic, employees realized that certain aspects of their job can be detrimental to their overall wellbeing. The fast pace of today’s digital world forces us to constantly switch from one task to another. Digital interruptions as well as human distractions are making it more difficult to focus and can cause mental blocks, cognitive overload and burn out. All of these factors lead to a more stressful working environment and, according to the American Psychological Association, can reduce a person’s productivity by as much as 40%.
Disengaged workers are not as productive and are more likely to cost an organization more money because of physical and mental health issues associated with stress. High healthcare and insurance costs are just one aspect of how poor employee health can impact a company’s bottom line; employee engagement, productivity and performance also suffer. By contrast, employees with better health and wellbeing are more productive and miss fewer workdays. A MillerKnoll survey concluded that well-being is also one of the biggest factors employees consider when deciding whether to come into the office. By ingraining wellness into all aspects of the business, companies can show their employees they care, which in turn, helps to build trust throughout the organization.
Many millennials no longer see a strong distinction between their life and work and therefore consider support for their wellbeing at work as one of the most crucial aspects of a job. According to a recent Gallup poll, 65% of millennials and 58% of older generations consider greater work-life balance and better personal wellbeing to be very important when considering whether to take a new job. Since people are about 80% of the cost of running a business, providing a working environment where employees feel their well-being is taken into consideration is simply good for business.
Well-Being Approach vs Wellness Program
Many people use the words ‘wellness’ and ‘well-being’ interchangeably but there is a distinction. Wellness is an important element of overall well-being; however, it focuses mainly just on the physical aspects of our health. A well-being approach encompasses a holistic understanding of employees’ physical, mental, and psychological needs. Sadly, very few companies have yet to adopt a comprehensive wellness approach which addresses all of these needs.
Companies should look to invest in the overall health and well-being of their employees through policies (including hybrid and remote work policies), employee benefits, resources, goals, and mission statements as well as the experience in the built space.
Simply offering a workplace wellness program does not guarantee improvement of employees’ well-being. By offering a program that only addresses the physical aspects of wellness, the root causes of poor health habits and outcomes may not be addressed. Gallup research shows that while more than 85% of large employers offer a wellness program, only 60% of the employees are aware it is being offered. Of that, only 40% actively participate. Companies should look to invest in the overall health and well-being of their employees through policies (including hybrid and remote work policies), employee benefits, resources, and business goals, as well as the experience in the built space. Integration and extensive coordination between all facets of the organization, especially human resources, will help to ensure a holistic approach is implemented. The office can serve as an equalizer that offers equitable conditions, amenities, and resources to everyone and can serve as a place to bring people together to help build back company culture. Integrating wellness features into a new hybrid workplace is a great way to offer high value rewards with minimal outlay.
A Well-Being Checklist
Using the WELL Building Standard as a guide, we have compiled a checklist of ideas and topics to consider that will help businesses promote wellness and well-being within their organizations. We are advocates of this ‘trend’ becoming the new standard of design; a progressive shift toward equal footing with sustainable, equitable and accessible initiatives. When designing a holistic well-being approach, it is important to consider all components: Body, Mind, and Environment. See below for the breakdown!
NOTE: The WELL Building Standard is a performance-based certification system that combines design and construction best practices with evidence-based scientific research.