Employers are increasingly being won over by “a happy, healthy workforce is a more efficient workforce” mantras, according to research commissioned by global firm Steelcase. The office furniture company says that staff wellbeing is soaring up the table of employers’ priorities. That means ‘soul wellbeing’ in addition to body and mind.
This makes sense, since post-recession Britain is increasingly becoming an employees’ market. A rise in vacancies has enabled workers to be in a better position to call the shots.
In such an environment, companies know they must do more to both retain and attract top-quality employees – and that means greater efforts to improve their wellbeing.
The shape of things to come? Could office gyms be the rule rather than the exception, with employers placing a greater emphasis on staff wellbeing.
Steelcase says that companies are even incorporating wellbeing into their workspace design.
Bostjan Ljubic, the firm’s UK chief, says that businesses are making the switch because they recognise its would-be financial, competitive and emotional benefits. The quest for greater staff wellbeing is also being driven by a greater awareness of the issue, backed by the latest statistics. They help make the economic argument for better staff wellbeing a compelling one, says Ljubic.
The benefits to bosses of a healthy workforce
- Stress is behind six in 10 lost working days, says Steelcase.
- Staff sickness days off cost UK companies around £29 billion each year, according to PwC accountancy company.
- Steelcase claims that a total of £15 billion every year gets lost because of health-related ‘presenteeism’ – or the act of working while sick or not completely engaged. (This is endorsed by a recent Axa study which finds that 67% of staff attend work while sick).
- Britain is the most overworked country in Europe, research suggests. No other nation in this continent works more than its equivalent of eight weeks’ unpaid overtime every year, according to NHS Choices.
- Steelcase says that healthcare expenses can jump by half as much again in firms where staff report large stress rates. This figures plummets by 41% in companies where employees feel fully engaged.
Four ways to improve office wellbeing
- In-house gyms
A growing number of UK companies are aping their US cousins and installing their very own in-house gyms. They include Adidas, Nomura Bank, MBDA missile systems firm and Business Environment.
- Getting the work/life balance right
Getting the work/life balance right is essential to avoid staff taking time off with stress. This means bosses realising when an individual’s excessive workload is becoming counter-productive because they aren’t coming to work fresh.
- Getting the massage
On-site massage may be the way ahead for improved office wellness. Quintiles clinical trials firm thinks so. Its massage service helped it scoop the 2013 award for Britain’s healthiest company (with over 1,000 employees).
- Better by design
Make your staff feel more at home. Encourage them to have more input into their working space. Adding novel features can help reduce stress in the office environment. Some firms, such as Nomura UK, have planted a kitchen garden and employees eat the produce in the dining area in the company’s London HQ. Nomura also has beehives on the rooftop which employees look after. Southampton-based web hosting provider, Peer 1 Hosting, has various fun features in the office, such as a helter-skelter, a cinema and an indoor garden with a tree house and swings.