Poor mental health costs economy $12billion a year
According to the Black Dog Institute, poor mental health at work is estimated to cost the economy over $12billion each year, including over $200million worth of workers compensation claims. These numbers are staggering. While mental health is a very complex subject, Evoke Projects looks at what aspects of the office design and workplace fit-out can help management build a healthier workforce.
Well-being at work needs a holistic approach
The first thing to recognise is that well-being is a holistic concept, linked to our entire being. Tom Bosna, General Manager of Pinnacle Health Group, distinguishes between well-being and wellness, terms that are often used interchangeably. He describes well-being as multi-dimensional, “influenced by five main pillars – physical, social, financial, community and purpose”, while wellness is the “state of being in good health”.
For true well-being then, physical health is important but not the only factor. Our total well-being is intricately tied up with our multi-dimensional mind.
More companies are introducing well-being programmes such as meditation and massage, social clubs and charity involvement. All these can support mental health and well-being as they go beyond physical health by introducing social and community elements to the workplace. Charity initiatives can also give a sense of purpose, leading people to get involved in their free time.
Back up well-being programs with an appropriate physical environment
Even the best well-being programs in the world cannot compensate for hours, days and weeks working in poor physical conditions. If you’ve spent all day with eye strain due to a flickering light, irritability due to noise or odours, and discomfort due to being cold, a well-being program is wasted. That 15-minute massage once a week becomes tokenistic—it won’t make you jump out of bed in the morning, ready to perform at your peak for your employer.
And let’s face it, a well-being program is not created for kindness. Companies want a high-performance workforce and to save some of that $12billion. By reducing sick days and making people feel happier to be at work, the result is satisfied, productive staff who will be loyal to your business. It makes sense to create an employee-centred office design and office fit-out that will bring synergy to your well-being programs.
Adding a ping pong table or meditation area during your next office refurbishment would be a start; however, a true holistic approach involves looking at the overall office design and how it impacts on well-being.
WELL concepts provide a roadmap towards well-being
Evoke Projects supports the WELL Building Standard, recognising that the built environment has tremendous potential to improve mental health through policies, programs and workplace office design.
As Eamon Tuhami, chief executive of employee-to-manager communication app, Motivii, points out, the concept of well-being is still being defined. One of the challenges is that well-being is personal and means different things to different people.
Evoke Projects sees the potential for the WELL Building Standard to reduce personal preferences that can be difficult to cater for. Instead, WELL finds common denominators that support the human psyche. There are ten WELL concepts: Air, Water, Nourishment, Light, Movement, Thermal Comfort, Sound, Materials, Mind and Community. This is a true holistic approach to office design.
Not every aspect of the WELL concepts will be relevant for all businesses, but they do provide a useful roadmap when starting a new office fit-out or office refurbishment. You can start small, embracing parts of the WELL Building Standard that can be included within a small office refurbishment. Every step counts towards better workplace well-being.
WELL Building Standard produces measurable results
In 2016, engineering consultancy Cundall was the first company in Europe to achieve WELL certification. In the two years since it gained certification, there has been a 50% reduction in absenteeism and a 27% reduction in staff turnover at their London office. This equates to an annual saving of £200,000 for the firm.
Mirvac’s EY Centre in Sydney is another WELL success story, with BOSSA (Building Occupants Survey System Australia) results after the new office fit-out showing an overall increase in satisfaction in every category including indoor air quality, noise and privacy, connection to the outdoors, comfort and health.
Companies that take a holistic approach to well-being through office design and office fit-outs will benefit from happier, more satisfied and productive employees with a greater sense of commitment and loyalty. Please call Evoke Projects on 1300 720 692 to find out more about office fit-outs that support well-being.