The Leader Magazine

MAR 2018

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t H e le A de R MARCH 2018 37 W ellness at work is a dominant theme in any discussion about the workplace. But this is not just a discussion about happiness; it is about creating cultures and environments that are conducive to commercial success. To achieve true 'wellness', attention must be given to every component that can impact mental and physical health. This means building structures and company cultures, through to the physical furniture and fittings, that employees require to work efficiently and effectively. When we begin to look at how all of these factors fit together, we gain insight into the touch points that are important to the individual as well as the business. We learn, for instance, that measurements of creativity and innovation are just as vital to a company's profitability – if not more so – as productivity, long considered the Holy Grail of success factors. But both people and property are vital, and they need to co-exist for the optimum gains of business. a study marks the connection While there is no exact recipe for creating a successful business, new research suggests that successful companies have in common a wealth of elements that benefit their employees' work environments. Wellness Together – a syndicated project researching more than 1,000 office workers and carried out by Sapio Research 1 – demonstrates productivity, creativity and even profitability can be affected by employee conditions. This is because well designed and innovative workplaces, where people feel well treated, work better in a variety of ways. The study highlights the important link between positive office cultures and the feel-good factor. Since 2003, there has been a general decline in the UK in the number of days lost to sickness absence, particularly during the economic downturn. An equivalent to 4.3 days per worker (the lowest recorded since the series began in 1993, when it was at 7.2 days per worker) were lost in 2016, but, at the same time, productivity has decreased. Given the apparent inverse relationship between productivity and absenteeism and the challenges the UK is facing with low levels of productivity, it's important to understand other factors that might be causing the problem. Presenteeism – a relatively new concept that suggests people being at work while unwell – is costing the UK twice as much as absenteeism. Intuitively this makes sense, but there's increasing evidence that the workplace itself can have the same impact as personal illness on productivity. So, it's not just aspects that enhance productivity that need to be identified, but those that lead to problem-solving and innovation as well, for example. The survey provides evidence of strong correlations between people feeling good about their workplace and a positive outcome for the business. Survey respondents evaluated a range of components around them. According to the findings, the six macro trends having an impact on employees are movement, lighting, personal storage, noise levels, air quality, and their own sense of empowerment. The potential impact of these elements on business shows that employers need to deliver the best to be successful. 1. Movement Musculoskeletal (i.e., back, neck and upper-limb) problems accounted for 30.8 million lost work days during 2016 in the UK (22.4 percent of the total days lost, according to Office for National Statistics [ONS] figures). It was the second biggest reason for absenteeism after minor illnesses such as coughs and colds (which took approximately 34.0 million days). Workstations that promote healthy postures and encourage movement are among the factors found in productive, profitable and creative companies. High-performing companies are more likely to have facilities that allow people to adjust their work station to them. Empowering the user by giving them choices, such as being able to alternate between sitting and standing, is crucial. The findings suggest that the importance of physical movement and of changing environments to help counter dips in concentration, could be underestimated. Getting some fresh air, changing task or location, or having a healthy snack are popular ways of avoiding dips in concentration levels. 2. Lighting Harsh or overly bright light is considered a far greater distraction for employees than low-level or soft lighting. Yet lighting systems that have the ability to change their colour tone as the day progresses are the least- common features in an office. Having glare-control and variable lighting is found to be a top characteristic of more profitable organisations, a statistic that gives credence to the argument that human-centric lighting is a major Lighting systems that adapt their colour tone as the day progresses feature in some of most productive companies and those that consider themselves to be highly innovative or creative.

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