Sophie Foster, Associate Workplace Consultant at TSK, shares her views on the integral components for promoting positive workplace wellbeing.
There is growing recognition of the importance of wellbeing in the workplace and the impact it has on achieving business goals. With the time we spend at work increasing, the workplace has a vital role to play in supporting people and their wellness.
More and more organisations are acknowledging this, and we’ve been seeing workplaces evolving with people at the heart. Workplaces are of course human-centred so creating environments that fully support employees make complete sense.
Take our clients AJ Bell and JT International Business Services (JTI). Both are people focused organisations so their workplaces have been designed to deliver a fantastic employee experience, with wellbeing at the heart. At AJ Bell, employees benefit from a state-of-the-art gym, enabling a work out before, during or after work.
Over in JTI, there is The Zen Zone, a biophilic retreat where employees can take a moment away from work to relax and recharge while enjoying the amazing panoramic views of MediaCity. Being really interested in mindfulness myself, I believe these features positively contribute to a healthier working life. Taking 10 minutes out of the day away from the computer screen and moving to somewhere to reflect is simple but really beneficial.
But employee wellbeing isn’t, of course, just about high-spec facilities or biophilia. There are many factors that influence how valued, satisfied and engaged we feel in the workplace. Place – our physical environment and the culture that is fostered as a result – is fundamental. The right environment can enable behaviours and interactions that promote positive wellbeing.
Creating the right environment for everyone
Societal changes, the digital age and the emergence of millennials in the workplace, and more recently Gen Z and iGen, have brought about new ways of working. Reportedly these generations, including myself in this, want more than just financial incentives. We place value on work environments that support all aspects of life, such as community, food and exercise.
The rise of co-working spaces such as WeWork demonstrates the importance of providing these diverse settings and environments that foster the development of communities. Bringing like-minded people together, from different industries or organisations, but with similar purposes is a great way to bring out the best in people.
However, it’s no surprise that with an ageing population in the UK, we also have an ageing workforce. In some workplaces, we can now see five generations working alongside each other. Does someone in their mid-sixties have the same working requirements as someone in their early twenties? Probably not.
That’s why it’s vital for organisations to create “workplaces for everyone” – flexible environments that suit different wants and needs. The organisations doing this best give their employees choice over where, when and how they do their work, such as JTI, who provide spaces to socialise, collaborate, create and innovate.
Providing employees with a variety of settings, so they can choose the environment that best suits their tasks and mood, enables them to be at their best and support their happiness and wellbeing. There are huddle spaces for collaboration, focus rooms for quiet working and technology-equipped spaces for learning and development. This means that everyone is catered for, regardless of age, personality type or workstyle.
Place is only partial
It has been argued that, by designing the workplace for the next generation, organisations risk alienating the older generation. However, it’s not all about having the coolest office features or a kitchen that serves poached eggs and smashed avocado.
Regardless of age there are a few common factors we all look for to feel engaged, satisfied and valued at work and are essential to our happiness and wellbeing at work. It’s about having a sense of belonging and purpose, a supportive environment that enables me to fulfil my potential and also have good relationships in work with teams and colleagues.
That’s why employee wellbeing needs a holistic approach. While place is integral, it’s only one of three interrelated components – people, place and purpose – that work together to create a truly positive human experience in the workplace.
Organisations are best positioned to support their employees’ wellbeing when they help them to have a clear purpose, positive relationships with others and an effective space that facilitates their productivity, supporting them to always feel and be at their best.
Read more on the role of people, place and purpose in promoting workplace wellbeing in the new research from the Knowledge Exchange