If you run a business, then you already know that employees are the lifeblood of your enterprise. You wouldn’t be able to do it all on your own, and you need the different skills and ideas your team provides. It makes sense to take care of your workers’ mental and physical health on the job so they’ll be more productive, take better care of your customers, and help your business thrive.
The great news is that taking care of employees isn’t just the right thing to do, but it’s also an incredible win-win. For each dollar you invest in employee wellness, you’ll typically earn a four dollar return-on-investment, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Want to make your business healthier and your employees happier? The following are five workplace elements that you should invest in to support employee mental health.
1. Natural Lighting
If you’ve ever worked in a windowless cubicle, then you know how depressing harsh office light can be. While poor office lighting might seem like a minor annoyance, it can actually be a major health issue, influencing everything from stress and anxiety to eyestrain and headaches. Sadly, 40% of workers are doing their jobs in poor lighting and may not know exactly how much it’s affecting them.
The solution here can sometimes be very simple: if your office has lots of windows, make sure your employees’ desks are situated near them. In the winter, though, even sitting near a window isn’t always enough. Investing in better lighting options, including lamps intended for people with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) in the winter, can make a big difference in happiness and productivity.
2. Cultural Inclusivity
Everyone wants to feel included at work. Diversity is key for a healthy and successful business, but that diversity must include inclusivity for all groups.
Understanding and embracing your employees’ racial, ethnic, religious, orientation, ability, age, and mental health diversity involves creating a culture that does not exclude anyone and has a zero-tolerance policy for discrimination.
It’s important to listen to your employees and avoid making assumptions about what they want and need in order to feel included. Ask, do your research, and be open-minded.
3. Quiet Spaces
A workday can get overwhelming, and for some, mental health can suffer in the constant noise and bustle of the office environment. Even if you don’t have individual offices, you can still provide some quiet spaces where your employees can retreat if they need a moment to reset.
The spaces can offer stress-busting amenities like a comfortable chair and resources for yoga and meditation. But it doesn’t have to be fancy! As long as employees have some quiet spaces where they can go and be alone when they’re feeling stressed, you’ll be supporting your team’s mental health substantially.
4. Fitness Areas
By now, everyone knows that physical and mental health are linked. People who work at a desk all day often suffer from difficulty with their mood, stress levels, and anxiety, partially because they’re not getting enough physical activity. If you have the budget, it can be a worthwhile investment to set up a fitness area in your office.
On-site fitness centers not only improve employee health and cut down on healthcare costs, but they promote goodwill, encourage productivity, and can even help create a culture of health. Even something as simple as creating a fitness room with some weights and basic fitness equipment can allow employees to stay healthier and squeeze in more workouts.
According to Dr. Lori Russell-Chapin, a professor of counseling at Bradley University’s online masters of counseling program, “being sedentary is the next new culprit hindering physical and brain health. The body was made to move. With the advancement of technology in the workplace, we move even less. Instead of walking down the hall or up a flight of stairs, most of us send a quick text. Any workplace and ergonomically sound devices and/or instruments that encourage movement and interaction with others will improve our brain health and overall happiness and moods.”
5. Office Ergonomics
We spend a lot of time at work. When employees aren’t comfortable, they won’t be as productive and are more likely to develop physical issues from poor posture and excessive typing at a bad angle. That’s why it’s so important to think of the ergonomics of your workstations when working to support employee health.
Comfortable, ergonomic chairs and keyboards can make a big difference. It’s also a good idea to give people options, like the ability to move around the office or to install convertible desks that allow employees to sit or stand while they work. These choices can improve overall health and well-being.
“Any ergonomic adjustments to our workplace environment will decrease stressors placed on the body from sitting too long with a particular motion. Our goal for peak performance in the body is to attain around 91-degree skin temperature, 6 cycles per minute of 5 inhales and 5 exhales of diaphragmatic breathing and higher alpha waves of around 10-12 hertz,” says Dr. Russel-Chapin.
“Sitting at a desk or at meetings will not often produce peak performance behaviors. If workplaces want better productivity and less workplace injuries, then re-envisioning the workplace environment is a great idea.”
A Comprehensive Plan for Employee Wellness
Office well-being is coming into focus because it’s so crucial for both employees and the organizations they work for. If you want to support your employees’ mental health, then it may be time to think about creating a comprehensive plan for employee wellness.
The good news is that there are countless resources available to you as you create your plan. One international organization has even created standards for an office that supports productivity and employee health. It may seem daunting to create a space that truly supports your team but remember: it’s a win-win that you can use to make everyone happier and more productive in the office.