The Measure of Workplace Wellness
In recent years, the concept of what constitutes the workplace has undergone a fundamental change. This shift is fueled in part by workers’ desire to substantially improve their work-life balance. Many of these workers are very health-conscious and perceive value in movements such as ‘clean eating’ and ‘flextime’. Millennials, in particular, are committed to empowering themselves in their workplace with the goal of performing better and being healthier overall. In fact, the familiar adage ‘work smarter not harder!’ has now expanded in scope to encompass workplace wellness efforts.
As part of a commitment to workplace wellness, addressing common health and stress issues can often be surprisingly straightforward. The following wellness adjustments are relatively easy to put into practice — by employers and workers alike. Backed by research, these seemingly small tweaks have been shown to significantly improve not only job performance and job satisfaction but overall health and well-being.
33% of Workers report high levels of stress on the job
A recent CareerBuilder survey reveals stress is negatively impacting job satisfaction with a third of workers reporting high levels of stress. 17% of workers say they are dissatisfied with their job overall.
Studies confirm a whole range of benefits — including lowering stress, enhanced creativity, sharper memory and improved mental acuity — can be gained by simply modifying one’s daily work routine by integrating a few minor adjustments to include:
Exercise – Incorporating short movements and exercises throughout the workday can significantly boost energy, engagement and efficiency. When 750 employees at New Balance shoe company integrated some form of physical activity into their routines every 30 minutes for three months, 53% said they increased their level of physical activity at work and 42% reported heightened engagement and concentration.
Maintaining adequate hydration – Hydrated workers are more productive workers. Just a 1% drop in hydration can inspire a 12% drop in productivity while a 3% to 4% drop in hydration can cut productivity 25% to 50%. Most experts agree that drinking at least 2 litres of water a day will prevent dehydration. Break it up into 8 portions. Also, people are encouraged to drink no more than 4 cups of coffee a day as caffeine is a leading cause of dehydration.
Eating healthy – Unhealthy eating is linked with a 66% increased risk of loss of productivity, according to a recent study in the science journal, Population Health Management. Workers who choose to forgo sugar-filled vending machine fare, that can ultimately adversely affect blood sugar levels and overall health, in favour of nutritious healthy snacks perform better.
Not smoking/smoking cessation – While heavily regulated in the workplace, smoking continues to contribute to decreased productivity and increased absenteeism. According to the Conference Board of Canada, smoking in the workplace often results in higher expenses for employers. Each employee who smokes costs the employer $4,256 year. To learn how to implement a complete environmental tobacco smoke workplace policy, click here.
Individuals who are committed to these healthy behaviours typically spend 33% to 50% less on healthcare costs inferring less chronic illness and better overall well-being.
61% of workers say they are burned out in their current job
A recent CareerBuilder survey reported 61%, or 3 in 5 workers, say they are burned out in their current job with 31% reporting high or extremely high levels of stress at work. However, these individuals are not necessarily taking time away from work to relax and rejuvenate.
- 33% of workers said they won’t be taking a vacation with nearly 1 in 5 leaving vacation days unused
- 3 in 10 workers still stay connected with work during vacation
- People in power positions – i.e., senior management — are the least stressed of all workers
- Women were more likely to report high-stress levels at work
- Anger issues at work, depression and sleepless nights are among stress-related symptoms workers have experienced
Take a break:
It’s critical to take time away from work to reduce stress and address burn-out. Schedule a real vacation, and fully disconnect or dramatically moderate the amount of work being done. Use these tips to disengage:
Take adequate time off – While strongly dependent on the individual, the majority of us need at least eight days away from work to fully unwind. We are often unable to recover sufficiently during shorter breaks from work because of increasingly disappearing boundaries between our personal life and work life. Therefore, a longer period away from work is needed to fully recover.
Vacations represent the longest period of temporary absence from work and work-related activities. But even while a vacation has a strong positive effect on health and well-being, its effect is short-lived. A recent study out of Finland’s University of Tampere found that longer trips didn’t necessarily increase post-vacation benefits. According to the study, health and wellness levels actually peaked on the eighth vacation day and had rapidly returned to baseline level within the first week of work resumption.
Advise management, colleagues and clients know you’ll be officially off the clock and will only respond to absolutely urgent emails.
Redirect and delegate to ensure business and client expectations are managed. Employ out-of-office messages and auto-reply on email. Make sure coworkers have access to the pertinent information necessary to assist.
Schedule set times for check-ins if you can’t relax without knowing all is well. Then step away from the work phone.
6 out of 10 Canadians believe their employer has some responsibility in ensuring their good health
The physical workplace itself is now recognized as an integral part of achieving high satisfaction with one’s overall work experience. Further, there’s a heightened awareness as to the positive link between wellness in the workplace and improved productivity from individuals, teams, and even entire organizations. In fact, as detailed in the Buffet National Wellness survey, six out of ten Canadians believe “their employer has some responsibility in ensuring their good health”.
Coworking workspaces, with their inherent flexibility, are often uniquely positioned to help workers proactively address wellness issues. As these spaces evolved in relation to recent developments in how work gets done, they are designed to promote a truly integrated state of well-being for individuals while working.
Workplace wellness tips:
Collaborative workplace design – By having access to collaborative spaces, private meeting rooms and shared kitchen and lounge areas, work satisfaction and productivity are significantly increased. When people aren’t tied to their desks, and feel free to move around, there are more opportunities for positive interactions and insightful conversations thereby improving overall happiness and wellness.
Walkable locations – According to new research, attracting premium talent is easier with a desirable office location in a highly walkable neighbourhood. The numbers show that there is a direct correlation between walkability and economic development, education and even social equity.
Sweat the details – Plenty of natural light, minimal noise distractions, elements of nature, flexible office layouts and ergonomic enhancements — all help to create a workplace environment that is as healthy as it is inviting. By investing in these details, people will look forward to coming to work and will feel more inspired and comfortable while they are there.
On a final note, as a favourable work-life balance is an increasingly important measure for today’s workforce, an ongoing commitment to wellness is perceived as an important element of an optimal workplace. Indeed, a workplace invested in health and wellness inspires a culture that attracts highly-motivated talent and leads to improved focus and overall engagement.