Watch employee health and morale rise after putting these workplace design techniques in place.
Many people complain of being sick and tired of work, but for many this truly may be the case. What numerous employers fail to recognize is that building design may increase employee stress and can potentially make a worker ill. But there are numerous benefits associated with certain design concepts that will improve employee health, boost the organization’s sense of community, and offer an outstanding return on investment.
Americans hear much about the 40-hour workweek, yet many individuals are now spending 50 hours or more on the job. Also, obesity rates continue to rise, in part due to a lack of activity. The environment plays a role in a person’s overall health, but it goes much further than the air people breathe. Indoor pollution remains an issue, as it is believed to cause respiratory problems and cancer in thousands of individuals each year.
While the focus has been on designing buildings that are friendly to the environment and protect the planet, it’s now time to consider how a building’s design affects its occupants. Why do businesses and building owners need to make this a priority?
Benefits of Implementing Employee-Friendly Design Techniques
All businesses should look at their current building design and see where they can make changes for their employees’ health and well-being. Read on for the benefits your employees–and your company–will experience from making some of these changes.
Reduced Healthcare Costs
Researchers examined 69,000 buildings in 150 countries, including factories, homes, and offices, and found that those occupying an energy-efficient building tended to have fewer illnesses. In addition, they reported higher levels of happiness and comfort. Happy, healthy employees lead to a decrease in healthcare costs for all.
Furthermore, the research found that hospitals constructed using green building techniques offered a higher quality of care. Record keeping improved in these facilities, patient mortality as a whole fell 11 percent, and bloodstream infections decreased by 70 percent. Statistics such as these show the importance of environmentally-friendly buildings for people.
In addition to witnessing a decline in healthcare costs, employers in the buildings studied also found the workers were more productive. They tend to miss fewer days from work and were more likely to stay with the company than those working in buildings that weren’t environmentally friendly.
This loyalty benefits the company in the long run, as they spend less to train new employees, and require less temporary help, as workers are present and prepared to do their jobs.
Employees working in an environmentally-friendly building report less stress. They state their health improves when working in a building of this type, and the sense of community within the organization improves. This benefits the business as a whole.
Buildings providing direct access to nature tend to relieve the stress of the occupants. A green roof is one way to accomplish this, and a wildlife habitat on-site is another. Fruits and vegetables may be grown on the roof, providing employees with mental reassurance and nutrition. Furthermore, workers exposed to direct sunlight throughout the day obtain more sleep at night, which, in turn, boosts daytime productivity.
Public transportation benefits the environment in many ways. It also helps those who make use of this option, as they tend to lead a healthier lifestyle. For this reason, employers need to consider buildings near public transit options, but this is not the only commuting concern for some employees.
One area of concern for many employees is what they will do in a crisis. Building design needs to account for this. Floodplain areas, for example, may want to incorporate inflatable rafts into the building design process. With the help of these rafts, employees will be able to return home after a natural disaster or obtain the supplies they need until help can arrive.
Employees need to move throughout the day, as opposed to being chained to their desk.
Employers should encourage the use of the stairs by making them attractive, incorporating bright light, and adding music and artwork. Encourage employee interaction by having only one or two key community areas for employees to gather. Employees should be able to select a workspace that supports their job function. Steps such as these help to increase employee movement, reduce stress and improve worker health.
Employees need to know what measures are being taken to reduce stress in their lives.
Employees need to know what measures are being taken to reduce stress in their lives. Businesses should include their employees in any new design, after all, they know best what is bringing about stress in their lives. For this reason, communication needs to remain open at all levels of the organization for the optimal results.
Although some of these methods may seem difficult to incorporate into a completed structure, it’s best to implement as many as possible. The return on investment will make every penny spent worthwhile.