Employee wellbeing: a responsibility and a strategy

No matter the size of a business or its revenue, its greatest asset and most valuable resource is the people. How we take care of ourselves is a 24/7 consideration – and that extends to our time spent in the office. Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends 2018 survey found that human resources and business leaders around the world overwhelmingly see employee wellbeing as important (84%), but that only around half (49%) currently feel ‘ready’ to meet evolving standards of workplace health.

Good health is critical to achieving maximum productivity in any office. Employees who successfully keep stress levels down have fewer physical or mental barriers to getting work done, so combatting stress is beneficial to employer and employee alike.

Several sources of office stress, including illness, discomfort and performance pressure, can be reduced effectively by making wise choices about the features of the average employee workspace.

Stress and links to illness

Research has repeatedly shown us that stress weakens the immune system. When stressed for long periods of time, we are more likely to fall ill, take longer to recover, and catch new illnesses quicker once existing ones have passed.

Hygiene is also an issue that can be often neglected. According to recent studies, on average, workplace offices contain more bacteria than toilet seats, with new research from the University of San Diego revealing more than 500 types of bacteria reportedly appear across shared office spaces and facilities.

Employers can’t really prevent employees from getting sick outside the office, but a workspace that encourages hygiene can certainly minimise the risk of catching something at work. Washable keyboards, for instance, can meet the growing demand for devices that support productivity and provide a high level of protection.

An ergonomic workspace is a healthy one

Some well-established practices like on-site flu vaccinations and steel-toed work boots are so commonplace that few people would question the importance and value of investing time and financial resources in them. But too often, the same attention is not given to concerns about the vital role that ergonomics plays in fostering wellness in the workplace.

A lot can be said about the role of ergonomics in office wellbeing. Bad posture when working (e.g. head too close to computer screen, hunched shoulders, wrists in the air above keyboard) can cause various kinds of strain and can result in chronic discomfort. The same rule applies here as with illness – discomfort equals distraction, and distraction equals stress and unproductivity.

What’s important in a workspace looking to avoid this is adjustability. Chairs, tables, and even computer hardware can get shuffled around during the work day, and when equipment passes between people it needs to be able to accommodate a new height and body shape just as well as it accommodated the old one.

In addition to having comfortable resting positions, it’s very important that employees be allowed to move around when they work. Spending most of the day sitting, as many office workers do, has been linked to health problems ranging from headaches to poor circulation. One solution to this is to have adjustable work sit-stand work desks that allow employees to alternate between sitting and standing as they type.

Planning for improvements

Hygienic, adjustable, ergonomic workspace design makes it possible for employees to feel less cramped within the same amount of space, and dramatically reduces the risk of developing chronic work-related health problems. Making wellbeing a priority area for businesses to consider and prepare for has significant and long-lasting benefits.

Wellness and Ergonomics are the means to providing a happier work environment and one that works with instead of against your body in its natural positions. Happiness in the workplace will be invited by body posture and ergonomics that increase wellness and decrease sore, aching and health detrimental positions and postures. Prevention is a best practice, but the best way to introduce prevention into your work environments is with products that are built for you.

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