In 2018, The Conference Board found that 51 percent of U.S. employees feel overall satisfied with their jobs, continuing an upward trend towards employee satisfaction in the workplace that started in 2005. It also marked the first time in over a decade that more than half of U.S. workers were satisfied with their jobs. While this positive trend towards a more satisfied workforce is great, there remains quite a bit of room for improvement among the 49% who remain dissatisfied with their current situations.
As employers trying to determine what they can do to ensure workplace satisfaction for their own employees, it’s important to note that there is no one thing that guarantees satisfaction. Instead, a combination of factors work together to create a positive work environment within which a majority of workers will find happiness and flourish. Things like being appreciated, connection to colleagues, workload, the ability to find work-life balance, salary, and company values are a few factors that seem to impact satisfaction.
Falling firmly into the company values category is health and workplace wellness. While salary is always going to be a major factor when it comes to job satisfaction, employees also express that benefits including health, dental, and other wellness benefits weigh heavily on their decision to take a job. In a 2016 study, Aflac found that 60% of employees would take a job with lower pay but better benefits, and 42% of employees said employers making improvements to their benefits would be something positive they could do to keep them in their jobs.
Valuing health and wellness in the workplace has far-reaching benefits beyond just keeping your employees in your employ, it also helps to make them better employees who consistently impact your company’s bottom line.
Healthy workers in healthy work environments tend to have fewer accidents and are out ill less frequently due to illness, stress, and other mental health issues. This results often in lower insurance costs and workers comp claims, and less money and productivity lost in sick pay.
Employers whose policies and behaviors reflect that they value employee health and wellness also report that their employees are more productive, more efficient, and more engaged resulting in better output, a happier work environment, and more company morale-all things that lead to positive outcomes for a business.
While it may be time to reevaluate your overall benefits package to better support your employees, there are things business owners, large and small, can do right now to help make employee health and wellness a priority.
Health and Wellness in the Workplace: 5 Ways You Can Make Your Office a Happier, Healthier Place to Work
Move your meeting.
Instead of sitting in a board room around a table filled with pastries, lace up your sneakers and take your team out for a walking meeting. It allows your team to work a little movement and Vitamin D into the day, and research has shown that the act of walking leads to increases in creative thinking. You can learn more about the benefits of walking meetings here: How to Do Walking Meetings Right
Invest in a healthy workspace.
Standing desks, dynamic furniture, proper lighting, ergonomic seating and accessories, greenery, all of these items contribute to a healthy workspace. But, having them available isn’t enough. Make sure you’re encouraging your employees to use them by providing training and modeling the behavior yourself.
Change your caterer.
Instead of donuts and pastries at every meeting, find a healthier alternative to provide food that is lower in calories and higher in nutrition.
In 2017, American workers forfeited nearly 50 percent of their paid vacation and, nearly 10 percent took no vacation days at all. Psychology Today noted that leisure is an important predictor in various areas of life including health and work engagement. Vacations allow for relaxation which reduces stress and boosts immunity. They also help make employees more productive overall and they encourage creativity. Everyone wins when employees are more creative and productive and less stressed and sick so encouraging your employees to use their sick days, and then leaving them alone while they do it, demonstrates that you value their time away.
Allow flexible schedules.
Allowing for a flexible work schedule where appropriate is a benefit that has been shown to add to overall employee work satisfaction. American Sociological Association found that workers who were given flexible work schedules voiced higher levels of job satisfaction and reduced levels of burnout and psychological stress. A study by Kenexa High Performance Institute also showed that 68 percent of people with inflexible schedules report “unreasonable” levels of work stress, while only 20 percent of those with flexible work schedules felt the same way. Stress causes mental health issues as well as physical illness that cause employees to be less productive, less engaged, and absent more often.