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Designing Wellness-Minded Spaces for Your Employees

Inhale… pause… exhale. Inhale… pause… exhale.

Settle into your surroundings and continue this calming breath.

Now envision a workplace as calming as your yoga mat. Or if you're not that into yoga, think about what does bring you a serene break in the midst of a hectic day.

Is it a conversation outside with a friend, a brisk walk around the block or simply finding a quiet place to sit, breathe and regain your calm balance?

What surroundings or activities put you on a path to doing your job better and with less stress?

The same is likely true for your co-workers and employees.

The health of people in the workplace is a growing concern among today's business owners and managers. Employers are recognizing that depression, stress and hypertension can send their health expenses and employee absences skyrocketing, while causing productivity and profitability to plummet.

To create a more serene and satisfied workforce, employers are embracing a wellness-minded approach when designing their workspaces.

What is a "wellness-minded" workspace?

Many of today's companies have realized that productive workplaces are made up of happy, healthy employees. Day-to-day stressors pop up, and employers are acknowledging the importance of providing employees with healthy ways to balance out daily stress.

Wellness-minded workspaces go beyond offering a health insurance plan or an on-site fitness center. Wellness isn't defined only by physical fitness and the absence of sickness, but also by mental health and personal satisfaction. What makes one employee happy may not be the same for another, which is why no two wellness-minded workplaces look alike.

The Importance of Wellness-Minded Workplaces to Employees (and Employers)

Millennials had a big impact on the growth of open office spaces, and now they are setting new standards for wellness-minded spaces.

Driven by technology, social media and a constant flow of information, the younger generation is more motivated to improve the quality of their environment.

Not only does this demographic have unlimited access to information on alternative workspace options, but they know the amount of time they spend staring at screens can negatively affect their physical health, mental health and productivity.

Millennials are not alone.

All employees—and employers— are benefitting from rethinking work environments to allow for wellness-minded options. In fact, according to a Workplace Wellness Programs Study by RAND Health, "For every $1 spent on wellness programs, employee medical costs fall by about $3.27 and absenteeism costs drop by about $2.73. These programs even contribute to improved morale and better recruitment and retention."

If wellness-minded workspaces are beneficial to employees, employers and a business' bottom line, you may want to take a glance around your office to see if you are supporting a healthy environment for all.

How does an employer know if they need (or have) a wellness-minded space?

While it's relatively easy to measure the results of energy-efficient initiatives, the perks of wellness-minded spaces aren't quite as straightforward.

Think about your current workspace.

Have you been working with the same team for quite some time? Can you count on your employees to go the extra mile for the overall good of the project or your company? Do you and your team leave the office with a good sense of accomplishment and a positive attitude about returning to work the following day?

Consider employee retention, loyalty and productivity when evaluating whether or not your workspace is wellness-minded. If you're experiencing a high level of turnover and/or a dip in output, you may want to consider implementing a wellness plan.

Tips for Designing with Wellness in Mind

When designing a wellness-minded workspace, remember that while one employee may enjoy the quiet stillness of a meditation room, another may want to release their stress with a run around an outdoor track or a shared coffee in the cafe.

When possible, give your team a variety of options to blow off steam and find their serenity.

And don't let the almighty dollar be the main driver of your decisions—or add stress to your plate. Start by simply asking your employees how they find their zen. You may find that small changes to your existing work environment will make a big difference in your employees' overall contentment during the work day.

Offer a diverse mix of wellness-oriented amenities and discover which your employees prioritize.

You don't have to implement all of these options. One or two of the following could go a long way toward cultivating a wellness-minded work environment:

  • Nutritious, well-balanced food and beverage options in the cafeteria and breakroom
  • Natural lighting to supplement or replace artificial lighting
  • Improved indoor air quality
  • A mix of open areas and private, quiet spaces for various personality types
  • Counseling services for employees struggling with depression, stress and anxiety
  • Fitness studios, walking trails and outdoor gathering spaces
  • "Free addressing" or another type of open-desk policy which allows employees to sit wherever they work best on a given day
  • Time allowance for exercise breaks throughout the day
  • Invigorating color schemes to promote creativity, energy and productivity
  • Flexible work schedules and arrangements, including the option to work remotely and take days off to perform charity work

Try making easy changes, like allowing fifteen extra minutes after lunch for a walk or shifting the configuration of your office to allow for more light or a quiet area. These productivity-boosting measures will cost you little and pay off big time in the quality and quantity of work that gets done in a day.

Take a deep breath. Give us a call.

Can we help you take the stress out of making your work space wellness-minded? If you need help developing or refining your space to suit your employee wellness program, we'd love to introduce you to a few wellness-focused design options. Give us a call at 877-779-3409 or contact us online.

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