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An office with a view: New data drives employee wellness initiatives

With fierce competition for talent, Canadian employers need to re-evaluate what having a healthy workplace environment entails, and how to use it as a recruiting tool.

Comfort, temperature and air quality

Driven by their consumer experience outside of the office, today’s employees expect that their workplace will enhance both their comfort and wellness. Results of a survey by Canadian environmental consulting firm Savanta have shed light on a few areas that appear to be bigger game-changers than expected. After interviewing 1,600-plus professionals aged 18–74 years who worked in corporate offices, researchers found that the workplace environment was key to both productivity and retaining valued talent. Several often overlooked factors that influence employee satisfaction, engagement and organizational effectiveness include having the office at an ideal temperature, improving air quality and reducing physical discomfort while working.

Up to two lost hours a day

It appears that Gen Zers are losing more time at work than their older peers, with 32 per cent suggesting they lose between one and two hours a day and 80 per cent saying they lose at least 15 minutes a day because of physical discomfort from air, light, temperature and acoustic issues. This compares with boomers, who have corresponding proportions of 18 and 69 per cent.

Employers tend to think that having an onsite gym is a vital perk, but many of the survey respondents said that was not important at all. Access to a view of the outdoors was, in fact, the most requested feature. Interestingly, having a view ranked higher than having a pet-friendly environment and being able to take unlimited vacation time.

Does your workplace make the cut?

A combined 79 per cent of employees questioned felt that there was a serious issue with distraction from the acoustic environment at work caused by office machines, telephone calls and other noises. And 67 per cent scored their employer in the 50 per cent range for its current efforts on improving how employees feel in the workplace, while 33 per cent of accounting and finance employees said their workplace does not support their emotional wellness. Interestingly for employers looking to recruit, 70 per cent of workers suggested they would be “much more strongly encouraged” to accept a job if wellness support is available.

Indeed, many employees felt that their employer could and should do more to improve their emotional and physical wellness, privacy and security at work. Aspects employees highlighted included the option to adjust their workspace temperature, access to natural light and increased workplace flexibility to enhance their overall comfort and match their needs and mood.

The take away

Where and how we work is becoming increasingly important. Managers who create workplaces and workspaces that are sensitive to the “environmental” health and well-being supports revealed by the study will be, it seems, more likely to recruit and retain staff.

To sum it up

• Temperature and air quality matter four times more to employees than having gym facilities.

• 50 per cent of those surveyed said poor air quality makes them become sleepier throughout the workday.

• Only one in three respondents said the office temperature is ideal for doing their best work.

• 75 per cent of all employees said they lose time at work because of discomfort.

• 33 per cent reported losing more than 60 minutes of work per day because of physical and environmental factors.

• A views of the outdoors was the most requested environmental feature for Gen Z employees (45 per cent of respondents).

• 79 per cent of employees reported issues with their acoustic environment at work.

5 workplace wellness ideas

1. Adopt an employee-centric view of workplace wellness: Survey your workforce to understand the key factors influencing productivity.

2. Build a holistic workplace wellness plan: Ask the real-estate and HR departments to work together to create a shared vision and strategy for workplace wellness.

3. Re-examine your investments: Focus on fewer opt-in perks such as onsite gyms and more on areas that affect everyone, such as the workstation.

4. Build personalization into your strategy: Give options for what best suits an individual employee’s physical and emotional needs at work.

5. Monitor the connection between employee satisfaction and workplace wellness: Adapt a continuous improvement mindset as it relates to creating a workplace environment that mirrors
an employee’s best consumer experience.

Excerpted and adapted from

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