Are you sitting comfortably? How to introduce staff wellbeing on a budget

The preservation of a happy and well workforce brings with it considerable benefits in terms of cost and productivity, so now, more than ever, it is time for businesses to make staff wellbeing a priority once again.

Staff wellbeing should not be underestimated. Healthy, happy employees have been linked to higher workplace productivity, financial savings and top talent retention. Recent research undertaken by Britain’s Healthiest Workplace Awards even found that a business which invests in staff health is rewarded with increased outputs. By contrast, those neglecting wellbeing were responsible for a £57bn a year economic deficit, with the biggest cost attributed to absences.

Despite the obvious benefits however, bosses believe it takes a lot of money to introduce health benefits into the workplace – this is not the case.

Furniture helps staff wellbeing

One of the simplest yet most effective ways to improve staff wellbeing is to introduce office furniture designed to support posture and prevent injury. High-grade ergonomic chairs and sit/stand desks are extremely effective, but introducing these company-wide can prove unrealistic and impractical. In these instances, staff training on how to accurately adjust seating for support and comfort is a quick and effective win. Likewise introducing accessories such as back supports and seat cushions can be a cost-effective alternative. Back supports ensure the spine is rested at a neutral position and minimises slouching, whilst a booster seat or seat cushion is designed to support the coccyx.

Aside from their health benefits, what is particularly advantageous is that they are portable and can be shared around the office, allowing mobile workers or hot-desking employees to quickly and effectively create an ergonomically designed working environment on the move.

The office layout

Research from the Trade Union Congress suggests that 13 per cent of workers clock up over 48 hours of work per week, with UK employees spending a lot of time behind desks and glued to a computer screen. Not only can this create physical injuries, but working uninterrupted for long periods of time can negatively impact productivity. In most cases, a breakout area can positively benefit staff wellbeing. It can be used to eat lunch, host brainstorms or even relax with a cup of tea for ten minutes, giving an air of informality while still retaining the professionalism for meetings and get-togethers.

Whilst it may seem like an expensive luxury, it really doesn’t have to be. It can be something as simple as introducing a sofa and a coffee table into the office, as a way of encouraging workers not to eat lunch at their desk, or bringing in colourful furnishings into an unused meeting room to give it a relaxing, home-like feel.

Take a break

Bupa claimed earlier in 2016 that nearly half of full-time staff believe they have too much work to pause for a few minutes. Yet stepping away from the desk regularly can boost energy, mind-set and, ultimately, productivity. It is a cost-free way to increase wellness but so many employers don’t do enough in encouraging staff to take breaks throughout the day. Simple steps, such as banning lunch at the desk, introducing a clocking in and out system for lunch, or even leading by example as a manager and taking a full lunch hour, can all be effective ways of bringing back breaks into the office. Benefits of natural daylight and Vitamin D absorption are continually expounded in the press, so a short walk during lunchtime can not only give employees a break but also provide multiple health benefits.

By introducing these simple ideas, business leaders can be confident in seeing an increase in wellness in the office, making it more likely that workers will be loyal to the firm and become smarter with their work output, both of which will lead to cost savings.

Paula Marshall is head of furniture category sales at business solutions provider Office Depot.

Image: Shutterstock

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