Are you really doing everything you can to keep your employees healthy?
There are common elements of the workplace environment that actually may be making employees sick. Consider the top five workplace threats to health and what you can do about them.
Air Quality. According to numerous studies, performance across nine cognitive functions increase significantly in environments with good ventilation. Conversely, in enclosed spaces with carbon dioxide level build-ups, the ability to think clearly is impaired. Energy Recovery Ventilator systems and CO2 sensors can increase ventilation; and low volatile organic compound materials and the presence of plant life also can help remove airborne toxins.
Lighting. In a study by the American Society of Interior Design, 68% of employees complained about lighting in their office. Florescent lighting, as well as lighting that is too dim, can cause eyestrain and headaches. Greater use of natural light has been shown to contribute to happier workers, less absenteeism, and fewer illnesses.
Biophilia. Also called BET, biophilia hypothesis suggests that people have an inborn desire to connect with nature and the outdoors. Adding plants and greenery, as well as utilizing natural and naturally-inspired materials in office design, can help feed this connection. Even some nature sounds, such as birds chirping, can help people feel calmer, less stressed, and more focused.
Eating alone. When employees eat alone, particularly at their desk, it increases unsanitary bacteria and unpleasant smells. At the same time, this isolation leads to added stress and anxiety. Providing a warm, pleasant, homey place for employees to gather for meals and snacks, and encouraging workers to invite others to join them, can help build stronger relationships, reduce stress, and give people an opportunity to relax and recharge.
Multitasking. At least one study has shown that switching rapidly from one task to another causes as much as a 40% decline in productivity. Chronic multitasking can lead to memory problems, stress, depression, anxiety, and other health issues. At the same time, technology enables employees to plug-in; but it also makes it difficult for them to unplug at the end of the day, contributing to burnout, exhaustion, and depression. Consider solutions such as “neighborhoods” or “micro-zones” to keep tasks separated or to keep group and individual tasks apart. Provide training on organizing tasks, time management, and related issues. When possible, encourage employees to “turn off” (literally or figuratively) work-related activities and devices when they go home.