DATE: 01/07/2016

Well-being – the word’s been thrown around a lot in recent years, but what does it actually mean?

For some companies, it means ergonomics (ie. providing office chairs, workspaces and desks that are comfortable). For others, it’s simply a buzzword that’s of little concern unless it can be used to save money on insurance premiums. In reality, the word encompasses much more.

Well-being is the state of feeling good. And while that is undoubtedly very much a personal affair, employers can do much to accommodate OR infringe upon this state.

Catherine Gall, Paris-based research director for Steelcase Workspace Futures, expanded upon this in a 2013 published interview: “Well-being actually involves many aspects of organizational culture, from making sure people understand what their job is and having a sense of purpose, to providing the right space, tools and resources to be successful.”

Gall went on to say her research shows that successful organizations support their employees with a holistic approach to mental, physical and emotional well-being. Of course, with today’s global marketplace, this has undoubtedly become a challenging undertaking for many employers. The same electronics that have given us the freedom to work anywhere have deluded us into thinking we have to work everywhere 24/7.

More than ever, employees need space to unplug and reset. According to a recent study conducted by social networking company The Draugiem Group, the 10 percent of employees with the highest productivity took 17-minute breaks for every 52 minutes of work. Further, the breaks were taken away from electronics. Whether it was chatting with a co-worker about non-project related topics, reading a book or taking a stroll, these employees were better for having been given the space to momentarily disengage.

According to another study, referenced by Park West Gallery, a total of 61 percent of surveyed employees viewed time off as improving physical health, while 55 percent said it improves mental health. While the data is clear, it still leaves the question – how can employers best support well-being?

Freedom to Roam

Since people work best when able to determine the “when and where” for themselves, why not provide them with several workspace locations to choose from?

Knocking out a detailed report, strategizing a new Website and planning a client event are all unique tasks that may generate different workspace preferences. By structuring your office with a variety of work options, and allowing staff to “roam freely,” you will support well-being while enhancing productivity. Spaces you may want to include are breakout rooms, privacy nests and collaboration stations.

Posture Options

To sit or stand? – that is the question. While numerous studies have come out about the dangers of sitting eight hours a day, standing in place for too long can be just as ineffective. As is often the case, the best approach is a balanced one.

You can ergonomically support your employees by providing both sitting AND standing options for getting work done. Not only is changing postures throughout the day physically and mentally energizing, it also provides employees with the autonomy they crave. Whether you choose to fogo traditional assigned seating entirely or to simply incorporate tech-friendly standing options in communal areas is up to you.

Lifestyle Amenities

Ask yourself, “What would I love to have access to at work? What would make my life that much easier?” Now, do that for your employees.

While some ideas may not be doable on every budget, you can surely go beyond the basic coffeepot. According to the International Journal of Workplace Health Management, dogs in the workplace may reduce stress and increase satisfaction for both dog-owners and admirers. Since bringing a dog to work doesn’t cost the employer monetarily, this is obviously a win-win solution for everyone.

After reading this article, we hope you’ve gained a greater understanding of why and how to prioritize well-being in the workplace. Click Here for a free consultation to learn more.