It serves the personal interest of every employer and employee to maintain a healthy office environment. Without this, the dynamics of the office will eventually fall apart, leading to chaos and unproductivity.
Expecting people to do their best work in a stressful environment is impossible. In the same way, simply asking staff to maintain a positive outlook is not good enough. You need to put a few workplace wellness plans or strategies in place, which will help you maintain a healthy environment at the office.
“A healthy workplace environment is essential for all employees, and to get this, we should think about some workplace wellness plan or strategies.”
1. Physical Environment, Safety, and Health
When you think of a healthy workplace environment, the first, most obvious thing that will come to mind is physical health. Well, you are not wrong.
The top priority of any organization is to take care of the safety and health risks of their employees. You can actively reduce the stress and worries of your employees by creating a physically safe environment for them to work in. It will invariably develop a sense of comfort and safety, allowing them to work freely.
A few simple things you can do in your office to increase safety are:
- Cover or tape down all open cables to reduce accidents such as tripping, or shocking
- Fixing any cracks or leaks in the ceiling or walls of the building
- Ensure their desk setup is ergonomic
- Hire cleaners who will periodically and regularly clean up spills, wet areas and keep the environment healthy
- Inform all staff members about safety and regulations in the office
- Encourage efficient breaks in between work
2. Encourage Open Communication
It is effortless to find yourself in between office politics. Backbiting, gossiping, spreading rumours, creating cliques, all of this can make a healthy office environment go sour. It is essential to foster wellness and mindfulness in employees from day one.
You can hold a workshop that guides employees (and even employers) on how to maintain open communication in the office. A few ways you can do this are to ensure that in case of any new information, everyone in the office is kept in the loop with regular updates and emails. You should also encourage staff members to help others fit into the conversations and not create groups. Encourage the staff to speak openly about any issues, worries, or discomfort they are facing in office and help them solve it. If you don’t always feel comfortable doing this task, you can always hire an officer mediator. The professional help and guidance can help your office maintain a healthy work environment for all those who are present.
3. Enable Mostly Healthy Food Habits
Whether you have a snack room, a kitchenette, a lounge area, or a canteen in your office, having a place where staff can relax, take a break and snack on something is necessary. Most of the time, when we feel low on energy or just not up to it, habit forces us to reach for that energy drink, the baggie of chips, a cupcake, a chocolate bar, and the likes. Even though we are aware that these aren’t the best choices, we still pick them.
One of the essential strategies you can implement for a healthy office environment is to enable healthy food options for everyone.
Stock up on multigrain bars, fresh fruit juices, chopped or whole fruits, nuts, trail mix, rather than offering high calorie and junk food options. With the easy availability of these healthier choices, eventually, people are bound to make the right choice. Although you shouldn’t coerce anyone to make their food choices, it helps to create awareness about it.
4. Invest in the Right Office Furniture
Most of us spend almost 9 hours a day sitting at our desks for work. Doing this day in and day out, for months and years, eventually leads us to develop musculoskeletal disorders. What starts as an innocent neck and shoulder pains, finger stiffness, and lower back pains finally ends up becoming a series of lifelong conditions. Most of us take some form of a daily commute to our workplaces, which also forces us to spend more time sitting.
This sedentary lifestyle not only causes a rise in obesity, low stamina, and fitness levels but also various forms of chronic pains and disorders.
An excellent strategy to alleviate this would be to invest in the right office furniture. This includes ergonomic desks, chairs, footrests, treadmill desks, good lighting, etc. As important as the furniture is, so is the office lighting. Poor or low light can cause eye strain, deteriorating eyesight, and a host of other problems.
Creating a comfortable workspace can help relieve these problems and create a better environment for staff.
5. More Greenery in the Workspace
Most of us have an inherent desire to stay connected with nature. Of course, it is not possible to transport all of our desks outside and work on the lawn! The next best alternative would be to decorate the office space with living plants.
By introducing living plants into your office workspace, you will notice a real and significant drop in stress levels, depression, and even strain. Encouraging employees to care for the plants also gives them a sense of responsibility and unity. Even having just one green or flower plant per workspace can do wonders in decreasing rage and hostility, anger, ill feelings, stress, fatigue, while promoting a sense of well-being.
Similarly, those who advocate colour psychology argue that the colour green has a relaxing and calming effect on the psyche of a person.
Of course, we cannot dismiss the fact that living plants actively help in cleaning the air of your office space. The plants actively reduce levels of carbon dioxide in offices, both with and without air conditioning.
It can be surprising to learn that plants also absorb sound. By keeping green plants in the office space, you will even notice a subtle but significant reduction in noise levels that come with office chatter and distracting background noises.
6. Involve Your Staff
Although having office hierarchies can lead to increased productivity on some levels, excluding staff out from decision making can lead to an unhealthy work environment. The staff of any office want to feel valued, they wish to have a say and for others to hear their opinions and judgments.
To create a healthy work environment, you will have to actively allow staff members to involve themselves in decisions regarding the office- be it changes in policy, work timings, flexibility, office décor, etc. You should not be afraid to ask the employees of their opinion regarding projects, clients, meetings, or new policies. You should foster a feeling of welcoming new ideas, thoughts, and opinions.
While doing this, it is also essential to create awareness about hostile or toxic behaviours. Any undermining, belittling, harassment, or expressing overtly negative judgments creates a poisonous environment. You should see it from day one that no one encourages these behaviours. The office staff should also have the comfort and feel safe to speak to someone in charge in case they feel uncomfortable by the actions of other staff members or employers.
Growing employee control is a comparatively low-cost target to aim for since it is a psychological rather than a physical commitment. It could involve increasing the capacity of workers to take the lead on initiatives, decide when or how they work, engage in policy debates and help craft their individual skills, and career job goals.
7. Create a Reward System
More often than not, employees feel like people don’t appreciate their work or their efforts. If these feelings continue, it will eventually harbour negative beliefs, feelings of resentment, anger, and frustration. Consequently, it will also decrease overall productivity.
You should create a legitimate reward system, where each employee receives due credit, appreciation, and even a reward for their job well done. You can do this in the form of a bonus, public recognition, points system, presenting awards, or many other innovative ways.
As long as a reward system exists, you should also implement a system where the employees feel safe fleshing out new ideas and strategies. They should have a safe space for doing this without fear of failure or of putting the company in any real danger.
8. Encourage Office Outings, Picnics, and Games
More and more companies realize the dangers of overworking their staff without any fun and games. This sort of environment is not only unhealthy but can also lead to extreme dissatisfaction and, eventually, the staff quitting.
You should introduce the concept of games and outings in the office. The office can host these every weekend, alternate weekends, or even once a month on a weekday. Many times, staff members do not wish to attend office picnics or games during weekends. The employers should respect this and host these games during breaks instead of on weekends, in that case.
There are several team-building exercises and games which you can host in or outside the office. You will find several ideas about this online. You can also hire a professional who will guide your staff through these fun and exciting games and puzzles they can play together as teams. It encourages open and positive communication, fosters a sense of solidarity with their teams, and gives them a chance to prove their abilities.
A healthy office environment is one that is not only clean, aesthetic, and safe to work in, but also one where the staff is comfortable and happy. By putting down specific ground rules from day one and also implementing certain strategies, it is possible to improve the office environment slowly. The employers of an office can also choose to hire a professional who can guide them regarding these strategies. By implementing these strategies, you can create a safe space where your workers are happy.
A healthy office environment begins with a healthy mind and a healthy attitude. Not only employees but also employers should keep a happy and positive outlook while disengaging from office politics.