How Work Environments Can Shape Employee Health

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When you think about your working environment, it is very likely that you think about your physical office space. This environment has a lot to answer for when it comes to the effect that it has on your health and wellbeing, but there is far more to the work environment than what meets the eye. According to the WHO (World Health Organisation), health is a “state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. 

This definition is one which takes physiological, psychological and social factors into account, including the interactions which occur between them. It also links health with wellbeing, which is a positive rather than a neutral state. But how does this definition apply to our work environments?

 

How Work Environments Influence Employee Health

You might think that wellbeing is just how you feel about your life and yourself. In the world of work, wellbeing comes down to the way you think about yourself in context with your job role. Companies need to introduce relevant employee health and wellness programmes to help increase staff productivity, boost morale and retain employees. 

Here are some examples of different work environment elements which are common when it comes to employees wanting to come into work each day, or not. 

 

Are you encouraged to take annual leave? 

It is important for you to take a break or holiday every now and then, but have you ever considered how the process is for employees who want to take time off? What process do they have to go through? Do they need to give a months notice? Do they do it online or sign it off in person? Whatever process you have implemented in your workplace, it is vital that you find a balance which works for your business as a whole and the employees who work there. If taking annual leave is perceived to be a struggle, then this will be hugely demoralising for employees. 

On the other hand, if it is too easy for employees to request time off, then this will have a knock-on effect on those who are left behind covering the work. This may be a valuable insight into identifying points of failure within your annual leave process. If there is one employee who never takes leave, maybe they do so because no one is there to pick up their workload when they are away? 

 

Is your work environment suitable for use?

Your work environment has a significant effect on an employee’s job satisfaction and motivation. If your work environment is a positive one, then your employees are likely to enjoy coming into work every day. Employers should realise that if employees are uncomfortable within their work environment, then their motivations and performance will likely take the hit. So, its time to take a closer look at your work environment. 

If you have an open plan office, then this can sometimes get very overwhelming if your employees are feeling stressed or anxious. Having a quiet working area or break room where employees can sit and work if it gets too much is important, as you are helping to support them when needed. Inner-city offices and factory environments often suffer from feeling stuffy and claustrophobic, particularly if you are wary of opening the windows for fear of air pollution levels. Industrial ducting may be worthwhile to help your employees health. 

 

Dealing with bullying or harassment

Despite growing awareness of the problem, poor and improper conduct, such as harassment and bullying, can happen all too frequently within the workplace. It can manifest in various forms, from unwanted comments and shouting to criticism and physical contact and if left unchecked, they can have a profound effect on the health and wellbeing of your employees. 

It is very important that your business has measures in place in order to tackle any form of inappropriate behaviour – this might be as simple as simply providing awareness of any relevant channels that are in place for employees to confide in. It is about creating a caring and supportive workplace culture from the very beginning. 

 

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