For most people, work occupies a substantial part of their life. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, people spend nearly nine hours on work-related activities during their day. Other studies, such as a 2014 survey by Gallup, suggest that the average number was actually closer to forty-seven hours per week. Add another eight hours for sleep, and you are spending more than 70% of your day on sleep and work alone.
With so much time spent on work, it goes without saying that a healthy and positive work environment is vital to your health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, maintaining a healthy work environment requires attention to equipment and workstation design, physical environment (temperature, humidity, light, noise, ventilation, and space), task design, psychological factors, such as personal interactions, work pace and job control, as well as chemical and environmental exposures.
Let’s take a look at seven of the best ways to put those considerations into action and create a positive work environment.
Cleanliness is one of the basic rules of life. Cleanliness matters because dust and bacteria can have a negative impact on your health. Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a phenomenon that causes a variety of illnesses and symptoms. SBS can be the result of chemical or biological contaminants, inadequate ventilation, or electromagnetic radiation, just to name a few. It can affect productivity and increase absenteeism.
Feng Shui, a Chinese philosophy and art that focuses on the special arrangement of buildings and objects, can help promote a harmonious workplace. Feng Shui was developed over 3,000 years ago and is excellent for balancing the energy in any work environment.
Adding plants can help create a pleasant environment as they’re both visually appealing and help clean the air. I recommend plants such as the Gerbera daisy, Marginata, and Peace lily. According to research performed by NASA, these plants are powerful enough to remove benzene, TCE, and formaldehyde from the workspace.
Proper lighting is essential for a healthy work environment. Getting rid of glare and shadows can reduce eye fatigue and headaches. If it’s available, natural light is best. If natural light is not an option, a quality lighting setup can help employees perform their tasks effectively and with less stress.
The human body is not designed to spend eight hours a day sitting but, unfortunately, for many people, that’s exactly what happens at work. If you really want to get down to the brass tacks, the truth is that a sedentary lifestyle is one of the biggest public health threats of our time. Sitting for extended periods can lead to muscle loss, weight gain, hypertension, osteoporosis, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, depression, back pain, and a host of other maladies. Who needs that?
To mitigate the negative impact of sitting, offer ergonomically correct chairs and functional desks. Encourage employees to move around to different sitting areas or meeting areas, or even work outside the office. If you have the room, a relaxation space equipped with aromatherapy and essential oils can be invaluable for encouraging a positive mood and promoting relaxation.
According to OECD estimates, Americans work more per year than people in most Western countries. For many people, a workday of more than eight hours is normal, but 18% of full-time employees work more than 60 hours per week — that’s a twelve hour work day. That’s too much.
Overloading employees with work may produce a temporary spike in productivity but, eventually, stress becomes a big and obvious detriment. It’s important that employees are allotted time to schedule doctor appointments and other important, personal appointments during business hours. Occasional activities outside and inside the office (breaks, social gatherings, happy hours, birthday celebrations, team lunches, etc) help create camaraderie.
For many businesses, employee-related expenses are their largest expenditure. So, it’s wise to take care of that investment. Promote teamwork and create a culture where your employees feel that they can openly give and receive feedback. When everyone knows the goals, they’re much easier to accomplish.
The more you allow your employees to grow, the better the chance the company will also grow. Investing in training and education means well-trained employees who are happier, more productive, and more likely to participate in creating a harmonious work environment.
Hard work and great results deserve to be noticed. Employee recognition has a considerable impact on employee satisfaction and commitment. Just like in any other relationship, accolades can be given in many forms. Sometimes a simple “thank you” goes a long way!
Finally, create an environment where wellness is encouraged and facilitated. You can promote healthy eating habits and establish wellness programs ranging from fitness days to providing reimbursements for gym memberships. The healthier your employees are, the fewer sick days they will have, and the more energy they will have to produce. Workplace wellness benefits the bottom line just as much as it benefits employees.
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