A wonderful thing is happening across companies in all industries: The genuine health and happiness of employees is quickly becoming a top priority. From robust benefits packages that address the realities of frenzied 21st-century life to office designs that promote peaceful and productive vibes, employers are doing more than ever to support employee wellness.
In part, this development has been driven by a candidate-centric job market in which employees have the power. Today’s workers expect their employers to care about them as individuals. If their employers don’t, they’ll simply go work someplace that does. Companies are heeding this warning, taking more proactive approaches to supporting employee health. For example, Starbucks recently announced a huge investment in its employees’ mental health, a pretty strong indicator that companies are taking total well-being in the workplace far more seriously than they once did.
Initiatives like Starbucks’s should give the green light to businesses everywhere to elevate their people and bring out the best in them — mind, body, and spirit.
Promoting Wellness in New Ways
Earlier this year, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study linking physical activity to a reduced risk of depression. The implications reflect what companies like mine, VARIDESK, have been saying all along: Movement in your work environment can positively affect you on both personal and professional levels.
Working toward physical, mental, and emotional wellness can take many forms. At my company, we promote activity with standing desks for every employee, our on-site gym and fitness classes, and walking meetings. We also offer plenty of other time management-type perks like dry cleaning pick-up, parking lot fuel fill-ups, and free food delivery.
At face value, these perks score major convenience points. When you take a closer look, however, you’ll see they also offer a deeper sense of fulfillment for our employees by allowing them to optimize their valuable time outside the office. These and other, more purpose-driven perks like employee giving and volunteer time off often pique the interest of our job candidates. Our sincere investment in our people helps us stand apart from the crowd in a competitive talent market.
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Being empathetic and helping workers alleviate their stress have become major selling points to talent in recent years, and that trend is only gaining momentum. From a recruitment standpoint, the wheels of attraction start spinning as soon as someone walks in for an interview. If you’re ushering the candidate down a drab, drywalled hallway and everyone is hidden behind closed doors, you’re not showcasing a company that drives collaboration or promotes wellness. Today’s candidates will notice.
If, instead, candidates see a dynamic office space where team members are meeting, working, and even playing together, they’re more likely to be drawn to that environment. That’s one benefit of flexible floor plans in terms of employee transparency and teamwork: You have a clear view of the energy and collaboration that’s happening all around you.
Early Steps Toward Wholesale Wellness
At VARIDESK, we aspire to take a holistic approach that supports all aspects of employee well-being: financial, physical, emotional, and mental. Those values have helped us recruit and retain some top talent over the years. If your company wants to leverage its culture of wellness to attract top-notch candidates as well, here are some steps to consider:
1. Have Leaders Set the Tone
People imitate the behavior they see, especially when it’s the behavior of their leaders. If team members sees their leaders having daily standing meetings in an open conference area or at the centralized coffee bar, they’ll be inspired to think outside the box regarding their own movement and meetings. The same goes for building a culture that promotes mental health: Leaders must remove any stigma surrounding the topic and lead the way.
2. Take Your Time
Put the cultural transformation into motion gradually, perhaps by department. When leaders show that more movement and dynamic work are accepted and valued, employees will catch on and follow suit — but transformation requires acclimation. Let your people come to this new culture willingly and at a comfortable pace.
3. Incorporate Activity When Possible
If you can convert a traditional seated conference room to a stand-up variety and change your meeting structure, you’ll see a spike in interactive and collaborative energy. Walking meetings are great, too. Just remember that leadership needs to model these behavioral changes so they take root in the minds of all employees.
As if happier, more productive employees weren’t enough reason to make the switch to an active, wellness-based workplace, think about the resulting dynamic energy that can inspire bold collaborations and fearless innovations. Smart professionals want to work in environments that promote an effortless flow of their best work. A workplace that puts wellness first offers just such an environment.
Megan Detz is chief people officer at VARIDESK.