Conditions Inside Office can Promote Wellness as Much as Exercise Equipment

Employers are expected to spend an average of $3.6 million on wellness programs this year.

Is it money well spent?

Not according to a recent Harvard study that suggests that wellness programs have unimpressive results.

A recent survey of 1,601 workers across North American suggests that money can be better spent on the basics: better air quality, access to natural light and the ability to personalize their workplace.

Air quality and light were found to have a bigger impact on employee performance, happiness and well-being than fitness facilities and high-tech health tools.

An investment into those factors could have immediate payoffs.

A workplace with good ventilation, comfortable temperatures and natural light has been found to cut absenteeism by four days per year, a savings of an estimated $3,600 annually for hourly workers and $2,650 for salaried workers.

In addition, employees who are satisfied or happy with their work environments are 16% more productive, 18% more likely to stay and 30% more likely to be attracted to their current employer over competitors.

That improves the bottom line, too, as companies willing to adapt to a more employee-centric view of workplace wellness will increase productivity and improve their ability to attract and keep talent.

How do you get there?

Spend wisely on office perks. Ask employees what they want. Don’t assume you know.

More than half (58%) of the employees surveyed said fresh air free of allergens would improve their wellness. Fifty percent said they would be more productive with some view of the outdoors, and a third said they would want the ability to adjust the temperature in their workplace. Noise reduction was on the wish list for a third of employees who said it hurt their ability to concentrate.

It might be time to take a serious look at how you allocate your wellness resources and cut expenses that aren’t worth the cost.

Personalize when possible. We watch the shows and listen to music we enjoy outside the office. We set the heat or air conditioning to the level we find comfortable and adjust lights at home to our satisfaction.

Employees, where possible, want to do the same at work. Some employers do that in the office, whether in the design of their buildings or with an app for employees to use. Others use inventive floor plans to help achieve the same goal.

Remember that wellness is not just about physical health. Workplace wellness involves physical wellness, emotional wellness and environmental wellness.

It’s not an easy process, but finding changes that matter will help you and your employees grow. Listening is key.