Employee health and wellness has a major effect in the office. The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that over $300 billion is lost yearly due to stress alone. But this economic impact doesn’t account for all the other health issues that can arise for employees and affect their workplace productivity. Consider these five technologies to help you develop a strong sense of employee well-being in your office.
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Wearable technology, such as smartwatches and fitness trackers, can help employees gain better insight into their personal activity and health levels. Fitness trackers can monitor information such as calories burned, heart rate, sleep patterns and steps walked during the day.
This type of data can help employees set health goals for themselves—and awareness of these stats can encourage more physical activity.
That said, it’s important to understand that consumer-grade fitness trackers aren’t completely accurate. They can give employees a general snapshot of their individual health, but wearables shouldn’t be used to make medical decisions. Managers also need to be careful if they expect employees to share their health data; issues of privacy and consent need to be considered if this information is to be used to inform workplace health programs.
Human physiology lies at the forefront of health and wellness. HVAC systems influence thermal comfort, air quality and acoustic comfort—all of which are important to workplace health.
It can be difficult for facility managers to find optimal settings, as individual needs vary and factors like seasonality also come into play.
But FMs can use technology like smart thermostats, building automation and localized temperature control to accommodate their employees’ needs.
Light exposure is a frequently mentioned staple of workplace health. In particular, natural light comes with a host of benefits such as better eye health and improved sleep; it’s also especially important in seasons that bring long periods of darkness. Proper light exposure can help employees avoid a vitamin D deficiency and seasonal affective disorder. Managers can increase natural light in the office through the use of large windows and skylights.
Artificial light also plays a part in office wellness, and can be created through the use of automated systems and smart lighting practices.
Meditation can help employees increase focus, improve brain function and maintain emotional and mental health.
In recognition of these benefits, companies are beginning to build the practice into their corporate wellness programs.
Though confusion about the requirements and processes of meditation can create a barrier to participation, managers can overcome these reservations by using simple meditation apps like Calm or Headspace to ease their workplaces into the activity.
Designed to accommodate the physical needs of an individual while allowing them to work effectively, ergonomic furniture can help reduce muscle tension, poor posture and stress levels for employees in the workplace. Ergonomic furniture comes in many forms, such as keyboards, chairs and desks.
Though employees should be encouraged to get up and move every once in awhile, facility managers can help alleviate physical distress by providing comfortable furniture.
Technology can lead to a healthier and more productive office, but it can hold serious social and legal consequences if implemented incorrectly. Empathy is the key to making technology useful for workplace health. Understanding your teams’ needs on an individual level and maintaining clear communication about your wellness policies is a crucial component to ensuring your employees enjoy a better sense of well-being.
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Photos: Zachary Staines, Crew, Michal Kulesza, Startup Stock Photos