When companies improve employee wellbeing, they create more engaging places to work and greater returns for the company as a whole. As South African corporates begin to wake-up and smell the workplace benefits, it’s evident they realise that wellbeing is fast gaining attention, and for good reasons. But while we realise its important, addressing it in the workplace isn’t that simple.

Wellbeing means different things to different people and in different places.  What is right for one isn’t necessarily right for another.  It can also be culturally based.  Common examples we have seen over the years include:

  1. Programs around wellness which are multi-dimensional and centred on employee holistic needs;
  2. Workplace surroundings have a definite effect on employee wellbeing, why? Because employees are attracted and feel better in well designed and constructed offices;
  3. Great spaces should be designed to encourage one to activate both the mind and body during the day;
  4. Open and diverse spaces in an office environment offer individuals flexibility and the opportunity to move around. Diverse spaces should also offer spaces where employees can practice active tasks as well as spaces to rejuvenate and relax;
  5. Furniture is becoming more flexible and adjustable. There is a large movement in South Africa towards height adjustable desks. Previously these came at a huge price; however local companies are now beginning to help alleviate this.  Height adjustable desks provide staff with the opportunity to decide how they want to work.
  6. Providing natural light and views of the outdoors to employees is also becoming a fundamental design principle for workspace specialists and design companies. Local corporates are using more glass to allow natural light to flow throughout their buildings and are very cognisant of lighting, especially energy efficient solutions;
  7. Branding, colour and messages throughout the office help deliver the message to staff about wellbeing. It can merely be an uplifting statement but keeps people optimistic and positive. Colour has a huge impact on the way people behave and think. Giant Leap believes in having a detailed understanding on what is expected of an organisations staff members or departments before they specify the colours to be painted.

It is also important for employees to lead balanced lives. This goes to many different levels.  Staff members need to feel secure in their jobs which include having financial and environmental stability. They also need to work in an environment which lends itself towards a healthy lifestyle. This could be an environment that offers ergonomic furniture, yoga, a gym and opportunity to move around, to get away from a sedentary lifestyle.

Life is fast-paced with great expectations.  When a person’s wellbeing is jeopardised so is the organisation’s. For every day that people take off or don’t give their best effort it detracts from productivity and starts to cost. It is for these reasons that companies are starting to look at improving employee wellbeing, creating a happier and healthier workplace.

When organisations embrace the opportunity to improve employee wellbeing, they create more engaging places to work and greater returns for the company as a whole. Wellbeing at work benefits organisations by helping employees to feel happy, proficient and fulfilled in their roles. Evidence shows that people who achieve good standards of wellbeing at work are likely to be more creative, more loyal, more productive, and provide better customer satisfaction than those with poor levels. Ultimately, workplace surroundings can either help or hinder employee wellbeing.

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