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Real Estate & Construction

Well-being, a way to make your employees happy

By Małgorzata Niewińska, senior change manager, Workplace Strategies, CBRE
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Apparently two-thirds of employees experience stress before going to work on Monday. The phenomenon is called 'The Sunday Night Blues'.

Why is it worth your while to work at having happy employees, and how does happiness affect their productivity? Why do you need a wellness strategy, and how can you put the term ‘well-being’ to good use? Why should all leaders become acquainted with the Well-Being Index’?

A content, harmonious and effective team is the dream of all organisations and institutions. And it is possible to make that dream come true. How? All you have to do is listen to the people that work with you...

Scientists at Queensland University of Technology have proven that background noise and lack of privacy impair brain activity and lead to concentration disorders. In effect, it is not only our productivity that suffers. A fatigued body is more susceptible to infections and falls ill more frequently. Meanwhile, employee absenteeism represents a measurable loss for any organization. No wonder then that as many as 90% of those working in open space express discontent about their working conditions. Six out of ten people complain about lack of a quiet space, while more than half complain about lack of privacy.

Unfortunately, it is not enough to simply do away with open space for the problem to disappear. It does not work like that. The key to true success is just two steps away.

The first step is to understand the concept of wellness, i.e. the so-called physical well-being of your employees, and develop a wellness strategy. This entails creation of such a working environment as to make work enjoyable. This is as much about the space layout as it is about colours, sounds, good lighting, suitable temperature and specific fit-out elements. Additionally, a well-organised office should have clearly designated spaces: a separate space for work that requires focus, different spaces for more intense team work and meetings. You also have to remember about a space where your team would be able to integrate in a natural manner.

It is of crucial importance to remember that splitting your space has to be done according to needs and requirements, as opposed to your organisational hierarchy. The more the working environment is tailored to the people that work within it, the greater their productivity, creativity and innovativeness. The research here is unambiguous: a friendly environment can positively affect productivity by as much as 12.5%. In turn, a badly designed working environment can reduce productivity by as much as 17%.

No wonder then that right now three-quarters of corporations are working on implementing wellness programmes. Intelligent space is more productive. And if you involve your employees in the process of creating it, the results could become apparent immediately, and surprisingly positive at that. The team will be quicker to get used to changes, suggest creative solutions and identify with the new space. Office space designs where efficient change management is applied have proven to be six times more effective in achieving the set business goals and objectives than those that fail to address that particular element! It would be difficult to stay indifferent in the face of such results.

Nonetheless, wellness is not only about architecture and interior design. To enable people to become motivated and fully utilise their skills and capabilities, you need a dash of economics, social psychology, business and technology.

Which brings us to the second step – the well-being philosophy that relates to  mental wellness. The determinant here is activity-based thinking, which entails flexible thinking and taking behavioural habits into account in designing contemporary spaces.

A friendly organisation has to take its employees’ needs into consideration and be able to respond and adapt to the changing reality. Take for example the fact that every third employee responsible for the company’s growth more often than not works outside of the office. At the time of remote work and mobility you have to make sure that the tools that you make available and the prevalent conditions facilitate and support that particular model. All the more so that flexibility contributes to increased work satisfaction. 60% of people working this way declare this to be the case. This makes it 16 percentage points more than the global average, which means it is worth it!

Research under the banner of 'work, power, energy' is now also under way at CBRE; it is set to reveal the employee's true form as regards physical activity, nutrition, ability to rest and emotional welfare. All the above aspects play a great role as far as job satisfaction is concerned. Therefore, there are several globally proven solutions that would be worth implementing as part of a strategy combining wellness and well-being:

  • Education on the topic of healthy and balanced nutrition, which for many people represents an important element of their lifestyle

  • Organizing training on the impact nutrition has on energy levels and brain activity

  • Holding contests to find the most active teams within the organisation

  • Work-based individual training and consultations with physiotherapists, personal trainers and ergonomics specialists

  • Training for employees on the topic of how to take effective breaks at work and organise one’s working day taking into account individual daily rhythms

Based on many years of research, the Gallup Institute together with Sharecare, the digital health company, have developed a special Well-Being Index that comprises five key elements:

  • Purpose – sense of purpose and job satisfaction,

  • Social – positive relationships and a friendly atmosphere

  • Financial – being satisfied with what you are paid

  • Community – awareness of being a part of a team

  • Physical – good health and general form.

If the team thrives in each of the above elements, then it will not only be more creative and productive, but it will also be able to find pleasure in the work carried out. As engaged employees are able to contribute to an increase in the profit generated by the organisation by as much as 20%, it would be worth your while to listen to them to find out what their dream working environment is.

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