The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to change how they think about employee wellness. For the first time, a vast majority of the workforce worked remotely from their homes, raising new questions about how to support wellness and productivity.
Even as employees return to the office or enter a hybrid work schedule, wellness and productivity remain top of mind for most organizations.
Why Does Employee Wellness Matter?
One of the biggest health concerns impacting wellness is physical inactivity. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who lead a sedentary lifestyle are at an increased risk of:
- Cardiovascular diseases
- Colon cancer
- High blood pressure
Another employee health concern is work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). About 1.8 million workers report MSDs like carpal tunnel and back injuries, and about 600,000 workers must take time off to recover from those injuries.
The work environment can positively or negatively impact these health risks and more, including productivity and overall satisfaction. That’s why employee wellness, which also encompasses mental health, is important to the individual and the company.
According to a 2019 Gallup study, employees with higher well-being also were more engaged at work, leading to further well-being improvements as time passed.
How to Improve Employee Wellness
One way employers can improve the work environment and make a positive impact on employees’ well-being is through ergonomics. This means replacing a one-size-fits-all approach to an office set-up with individual accommodations that support employee safety, comfort and health anywhere they work.
Enabling Well-Being at Home
For many, working from home means finding quiet corners and carving out workspaces in crowded homes shared by multiple workers or students. As a result, it’s not unusual to have a makeshift workstation that doesn’t provide good ergonomics.
As an employer, try these tips to help improve wellness for work-from-home employees:
- Learn more about each employee’s working environment
- Ask workers about their individual workspace needs
- Provide ergonomic standing desks and monitor arms to encourage more movement
- Schedule virtual lunches or social events to lift morale
Enabling Well-Being at the Office
Ergonomics is also essential for traditional office spaces where many employees struggle to create a comfortable, personalized set-up like they have at home.
In a home office, employees may have a special chair with lumbar support, an adjustable monitor arm, or a mobile standing desk that adapts to their preferences and needs.
Consider these options for your office:
- Offer a standardized set of ergonomic products for employees to choose from
- Provide personalized ergonomic assessments with a certified professional to ensure workspaces meet the needs of each user
- Ask for feedback from employees about changes
Remember, the investment is worth it if employee wellness helps increase productivity and morale.
Enabling Well-Being for Hybrid Workers
Hybrid workers may be the employees who need ergonomic support the most. A 2022 survey showed that employees with a hybrid schedule reported that it was more emotionally draining than fully remote work and more taxing than full-time office-based work.
A hybrid worker has a different working environment and routine on different days of the week, making it difficult to adjust to each setting. Many hybrid employees use shared workspaces, which takes time and effort to adjust.
Try offering these solutions to meet the needs of hybrid workers:
- Mobile standing desks that can be moved around the office for individual work or collaboration
- A height-adjustable standing desk converter so each employee can quickly find their most comfortable working height, sitting or standing
- Monitor mounts, monitor stands and monitor arms that support personalized screen views
How to Put an Employee Wellness Plan in Place
Every organization and employee culture is different, so there’s no set way to implement an employee wellness plan. To start developing a program that fits your organization, refer to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Workplace Health Model for improving employee wellness:
- Assess the current state of employee wellness and where to improve.
- Plan for changes that need to be made and prepare management accordingly.
- Implement changes through communication and culture shifts.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of changes and adjust for future success.
In ever-changing work environments, it is vital to support employee wellness to both care for employees and to help boost productivity and efficiency.
To learn more about promoting employee wellness in flexible workspaces, download the white paper, “How to Facilitate Shared and Flexible Workspaces.”