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Space Planning & Design Is Changing Employee Health At Work

We hear health-centered words such as wellness, mindfulness and presenteeism every day in connection to lifestyle choices. And while we often try to apply these concepts to our personal lives, we may underestimate the health and wellness of our workspaces. Some of us spend more time in the office than we do at home, so it’s more important than ever from work environments that promote health and well-being.

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BREATHE™ Living walls from DIRTT give life to office hallways.

It has become increasingly apparent that the state of well-being in the workplace has been neglected, affecting the health of each and every employee. A sickly work environment can trigger emotional symptoms like depression, anxiety and general absenteeism. According to a study by Allegheny Health, yearly claims for preventable illnesses (which make up 70 percent of all health care claims) can cost a company tens of thousands of dollars. Symptoms due to sedentary lifestyle alone can cost over $1,200 per year per employee. Virtually any business with desks is affected by this cost.

The same study compared yearly costs between what they consider a healthy employee and an unhealthy employee, based on lifestyle choices, and found the healthy employee incurred less than half  the yearly health costs of the unhealthy staffer.

In addition to medical bills, there is a plethora of hidden costs which result from a toxic work environment. Knoll Inc. recently published an article on the topic and said, “Poor employee well-being can reduce engagement and morale, increase overtime, require overstaffing, increase turnover and make people more prone to accidents.”

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Knoll Inc. demonstrates the daunting hidden costs of an unwell office.

The article also indicated that companies that invested in a comprehensive wellness program saw significant returns on their investments, ranging between 144 percent and 3,000 percent. Those numbers not only reflect a beneficial business decision, but also a thoughtful and kind decision for the entire staff.

It is fundamental to make adjustments to your office culture, for the wellbeing of your staff, as well as your overhead costs. If you are not sure of the status of your workplace, you can create an anonymous survey for your staff, or refer to the Center for Disease Control’s Worksite Health Score Card, which will provide evidence-based research relevant to your office and help you come up with a reasonable solution for you and your workspace.

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