Workplace well-being - the productivity secret

By Natalia Sketchley | Viking Direct

Over the last three years, office suppliers viking have been investigating what motivates people at work. The survey involved almost 14,000 people and offers important insight to employers and how they could improve productivity in their office. One trend in the research shows a strong link between office well-being and how people perform at work. The mental health foundation found that prioritizing employees well-being can increase productivity by 12%, and viking’s research supports this.

People are becoming increasingly aware of mental and physical health in the office and it would seem we are still not doing enough to support this. In this article we will discuss what employers can do to help improve mental and physical health in the office in order to increase productivity and boost morale.

What is the problem?

Despite recent efforts to create awareness, employee’s mental health is still being affected by work and there isn’t enough being done to support them. Over 2/3rds of the managers involved in viking’s research said they have not had any helpful training with regards to mental health, which is clearly something that needs to change with 65% of them saying they have been approached concerning mental health issues.

Physical health is also becoming an increasing concern for employees as they become concerned with what office work could be doing to their health. 1/3 employees said they don’t feel they’re doing enough to protect their health, and 8/10 are worried about the impact of spending all day sat at a desk. These fears are for good reason too, with 58% of people saying they’re at their desk for over 5 hours every day.

As well as highlighting the problem, viking’s research also gives insight into what is causing mental health issues for employees and how their employees should go about improving the office environment. This would not only provide health benefits but also increase productivity inside the business.

The shape of a working day

The research shows that a lot of employees are unhappy with their working hours throughout the week and this is impacting productivity. In fact, half of the people said they would prefer a four-day working week, and 60% said if given the choice they would work from home. It’s clear a strict five-day working week isn’t for everyone but what can employers do to help accommodate individual requirements.

Providing fair flexibility will allow employers some say in when they work throughout the week. This will allow them to balance their personal life with work, increasing morale and productivity during hours they’re in the office.

Under pressure at work

Employees who are stressed or anxious due to working long hours and feeling pressure from their employers are more likely to face mental health issues. 6 in 10 workers said they have negative thoughts about their job on at least a weekly basis. This doesn’t come as a surprise as half of the employees involved in viking’s research said they regularly work over contracted hours, and 43% feel unpleasant levels of pressure to succeed at least once a week.

So, what can employers do? Firstly, make sure employees have enough time in the working day to complete tasks. Overworking employees is counter-productive because it makes them less motivated during contracted hours and creates unhappiness in the office. Allow employees to come forward if they’re struggling with work and managers should be encouraged to leave their door open if support is needed.

Office environment

In viking’s research, a number of employees highlighted the office environment as a big factor in terms of office motivation. When asked what the most annoying office habits were, 28% said being regularly late, 28% said complaining all the time and 24% said eating smelly food. 4 in 10 even said they’ve been close to quitting their job due to these annoyances.

Providing a positive working environment for employees is essential. The majority of people spend the majority of waking hours throughout the week at work, if they’re not happy with where they’re working productivity will suffer. According to viking’s research, one way to create a better working environment for employees is to add artwork to the office.

54% of people think that art should be in every workplace, half feel it helps reduce stress and 53% of respondents said that art would make them happier. The trick isn’t just to pick art at random though as this could have a negative effect. Find out what motivates your staff and what art they would like to see around the office. Giving them a say in the art that goes up in the office, and if they would like anything else adding to their working environment will make them feel valuable.

Feeling valued and working in an environment they’re happy with will no doubt have a positive impact on employee’s morale, motivation and productivity.

Life at a desk

As mentioned before, 8/10 people are worried about the amount of time they spend at their desk, this is an issue that should be being addressed but according to research, 43% of employees feel they’re not informed about how to protect their health at work.

There is more employers could be doing to protect the health of their employees. According to stuart hearn, ceo at clear review, “a study published in the annals of internal medicine found that employers should get up once every half an hour to stretch their legs.”

Allowing employees to take regular short breaks could increase productivity during time at their desk, especially if they feel you’re making an effort to ensure a healthy working environment. Employers can also provide training on how to keep good posture at your desk and offer eye tests for those who spend a lot of their day looking at a screen. Offering this reassurance to employees will stop them worrying as much about how work is impacting their health.

Providing a working environment that takes employees health seriously should be at the forefront of employer’s minds. Viking’s research shows a high percentage of workers are unhappy with their situation at work, and this is something that needs to be addressed if you want to keep office productivity high. Following the advice in this article will not only help increase your productivity, but also life morale and create a nicer working environment for everyone.