Recent research shows that it pays off for businesses to invest in employee health and wellness. Illness and injury-causing employees to miss work costs United States employers hundreds of billions of dollars every year, according to the CDC Foundation. Additionally, employees working while they’re sick costs companies upwards of $150 billion yearly.
An unhealthy work environment and high-stress levels can contribute significantly to individual employee health. Investing in the physical and mental health of your workers impacts not only your business but also your bottom line. Investing in health and wellness in the workplace isn’t just about the health benefits. Wellness initiatives are shown to boost morale and overall employee engagement while reducing employee turnover.
Wondering how to approach employee wellness in your business? Read on to learn how to support and encourage a healthier workforce. Understanding why employee wellness is an important issue is the first step towards a healthier workforce.
Employee Health Affects Productivity
A 2011 study conducted by researchers at the Minnesota OptumHealth Culture of Health Institute revealed that employees with or at risk for health problems cost their employers anywhere from $15 to $1,601 yearly. For medium to large businesses, that could mean millions of dollars lost each year. More recently, the Integrated Benefits Institute reported that health-related employee productivity losses cost U.S. businesses upwards of $500 billion annually.
It’s not just the flu and other acute illnesses that affect employee productivity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that one in six adults has a chronic illness such as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease or cancer. Workdays missed due to health issues stemming from chronic illness costs U.S. businesses more than $36 billion each year.
Better Health Boosts Productivity
Research shows that workers who live a healthy lifestyle are less likely to miss work. Better health is also associated with improved job performance and boosted productivity levels. Employers who prioritize the physical and mental health of their workforce also find that their employees are more engaged and have increased morale.
Employee Engagement Increases Productivity
Physical health affects productivity, but so does employee engagement. Research shows that highly engaged teams are 21 percent more profitable. High engagement rates are also associated with nearly 60 percent less turnover and 41 percent less absenteeism in the workplace. Healthy, happy, engaged workers show up with energy, passion, and purpose.
Office Design Heavily Impacts Worker Health
Create Comfortable Workstations
Employee workstations are the heart of your business. Whether you have a modern, open office design or a more traditional office layout with cubicles and partitions, you can design the space to encourage collaboration and support diverse working styles. Additionally, designing the office with comfort and support in mind helps keep employees happy and healthy.
Giving workers a voice in the design of their work area can boost engagement. Research shows that employees who feel like their voice is heard are 4.6 times more empowered to do their best work. To give employees flexibility, offer a variety of seating options like sit to stand desks, traditional desks, and open workstations. Ample storage is a must — disorganization can hamper productivity. Also, consider ergonomic seating to lessen fatigue and minimize workplace injuries.
Healthy Lighting, Air Quality, and Office Temperatures
A study performed by Cornell University’s Department of Design and Environmental Analysis found a strong correlation between increased natural light and decreased headaches and eye strain. In addition to increasing natural light in your office, offer a variety of lighting options and make sure there’s ample ventilation to reduce indoor air pollution. Poor office air quality is linked to health problems like drowsiness, irritation, headaches, and colds.
Another important factor is temperature. It’s important to keep the office thermostat set at a healthy temperature because temperatures that are too hot or too cold can diminish concentration, affect mood and slow productivity. Ideally, your office’s temperature should be set somewhere between 68 and 76 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.
Inspiring Office Decor
Office comfort isn’t the only consideration. Decor and design are also important factors that can affect employee wellness. For example, adding plants to the office is a great way to boost air quality and incorporate natural elements into the workplace, which is shown to help reduce fatigue, anxiety, and stress.
Color is another important factor. Incorporating pinks and oranges into the office’s color scheme can stoke excitement and energy, while blue hues help lessen stress and increase feelings of calm and relaxation. Additionally, hanging artwork can help inspire workers, boosting creativity. Use decor to set the tone for your office and the mood you’re striving to achieve.
Should You Be Promoting Health at Work?
Health and wellness programs have been around since the 1970s. Given the staggering costs associated with employees’ individual health, health and wellness is arguably one of the most important aspects of your company culture. Promoting health and wellness at work encourages employees to make healthy choices regarding physical activity and their diet. Not only does this help each individual spend less on health care, but it also saves employers money while increasing workers’ engagement and productivity.
A survey conducted by SFM Insurance reveals that the majority of employers experience reduced health care costs after instituting workplace wellness programs. Additionally, the average return on their investment ranges from $1.50 to $3.00 for every dollar they spend. Here are a few ways you can create a wellness-focused culture in your workplace:
- Provide incentives and rewards for employees with paid fitness memberships.
- Stock the break room with healthy snack options like fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Ask employees what you can do to encourage wellness. For some, having flexible hours that encourage a good work/life balance might be a priority. For others, having increased social interaction at work could be key.
- Encourage participation with raffles or gift card prizes for meeting wellness goals.
- Support a healthy work/life balance for decreased stress and improved productivity.
Employee Health Affects the Bottom Line
Employee health has the potential to cost businesses big money. The physical and mental health of individual employees impacts productivity, performance, morale and workplace safety. Investing in employee health is an effective strategy for businesses of all sizes. It has a ripple effect that goes beyond containing health care costs. Fostering wellness in the workplace encourages employees to make health-minded choices, reducing missed work and boosting your business’s bottom line.
Looking to improve your business’s office design as part of your commitment to wellness? From ergonomic seating and varied workstation options to uplifting and inspiring decor, CORT Furniture Rental has you covered.