Employee well-being doesn't just boil down to paycheck size and whether someone has an office with a view. There are a range of environmental and social factors that affect each individual's experience at your organization, regardless of their rank or department.
Personalities and priorities do differ, so issues are not weighed the same by everyone. But if you can identify the most common positive and negative influences in the workplace — as well as what you can do to control them — you can begin to make the small changes needed to craft a happier, healthier, more productive workforce.
The option to telecommute is not necessarily a desire shared among all employees. However, recent polls indicate that having more flexibility regarding their schedule — whether it's avoiding rush hour, being responsive to family needs, or working at off-peak times — is high on the list of possible workplace benefits (1).
Americans are more sleep-deprived than ever before (2). That's why some employers have found it prudent to provide the resources — including a dark room, reclining seats, and maybe even a gently flowing fountain — for staff to grab a power nap and recharge as opposed to slogging through the day on fumes (3). Twenty minutes of shut-eye can do some folks more good than a double-shot of espresso.
Taking intermittent breaks from tasks to visit a favorite website can help people focus more when they get back to work, according to a study presented at an Academy of Management conference in San Antonio, TX (4).
For many Americans, a physical challenge can be fun, particularly when the reward is a healthy body and mind (5). That's why common benefits in many workplaces include gym access or reimbursement, 5K fun runs, in-office Biggest Loser contests, flu shot days, cholesterol screenings, Weight Watchers meetings, and other group activities or outings.
Sources: 1. www.workplaceflexibility2010.org/ 2. www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/toll-of-sleep-loss-in-america 3. www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/03/11/more-work-nap-rooms/1977603/ 4. www.abcnews.go.com/US/web-browsing-makes-workers-happier-productive-study/story?id=14362815 5. www.businessnewsdaily.com/1707-worker-employee-health.html
On The Road Again
Bob Seger isn't the only one who sometimes gets a little road weary. In fact, those who have longer daily commutes are more likely to report a range of adverse physical and emotional conditions (6). One Swedish study found that if one partner in a marriage had a commute of more than 45 minutes each way, that couple was 40% more likely to divorce than the average population (7).
A Harris Interactive study found that 61% of employees questioned thought loud colleagues were the biggest workplace distraction. Close behind were impromptu meetings, which 40% also found distracting (8).
10 Cat Videos = Unemployment
Despite the benefits that the Internet, mobile devices, and other gadgets can provide, you should still implement time limits for any non-work related activities. One study found that employees estimate they spend between one and two hours each day on social media (11%), surfing the web (27%), and watching TV (26%) (9).
Economic and workplace pressures often lead employees to believe they need to be at work when they're sick (10). Meanwhile, having to hear sneezing, wheezing, and coughing from colleagues only increases the stress levels of other employees. This can lower their immune systems and make the entire office more susceptible to illness ... it's a vicious cycle.
Sources Continued: 6. www.gallup.com/poll/142142/wellbeing-lower-among-workers-long-commutes.aspx 7. www.thelocal.se/20110524/33966 8. www.forbes.com/sites/jacquelynsmith/2012/06/22/how-to-ignore-distractions-at-work/) 9. www.mashable.com/2013/02/13/office-productivity-killers/ 10. www.inc.com/suzanne-lucas/90-percent-of-your-employees-come-to-work-when-they-are-sick-and-its-your.html