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  • Writer's pictureKate Bradshaw

Well-being at Work

We take well-being seriously at Quality Health Care. We know that improving workers' well-being has a payoff to our company through improved resilience, increased productivity, commitment and levels of engagement.

In its simplest form, well-being is our ability to feel good and function effectively. This is our physical, mental and social health; and it is more than being free from illness or disease.

By adopting a positive approach to well-being, organisations can also enjoy: improved safety – workers are more likely to take early action and seek help, a reduction in workers compensation claims costs, talent that stays – employees who are unhappy with their workplace's commitment to health are more likely to leave within the 12 months, higher levels of employee engagement, improved individual performance – employees with higher levels of well-being have been found to learn better, enjoy higher levels of goal attainment, have better relationships and overall are more satisfied and productive.

Every one of us experiences natural highs and lows in life. Our well-being builds resilience, helping us to move through these times with greater ease. Research tells us that people with higher levels of well-being are:

  • sociable and energetic

  • more charitable and cooperative

  • creative and problem solvers

  • tend to be more flexible and innovative in their thinking

  • three times more productive in their jobs!

  • more resilient in the face of hardship

  • physically healthier and happier.

Nature and Environment

We have become increasingly aware of the connection between physical and mental health and our work life. This rise in awareness has resulted in changes to management practices at work, such as giving employees more control over their work, schedules and improving interpersonal skills.

Organisations have also introduced opportunities for meditation, mindfulness training and providing access to gyms and other health facilities and programs.It’s a known fact that workers spend 40 hours a week in the office, at their desk and work stations. So it’s interesting that almost no research has examined the effects of the physical environment, as either a cause or as a way to improve the health of employees. As problematic our sedentary behaviour is for our long term health; our physical work environment can also be problematic, yet requires no extra effort or time on part of an employee. So let’s take a look at what we do know:

  • Exposure to natural elements (green spaces) can reduce the impact of stress, increase psychological well-being and support illness recovery.

  • People who have access to views of nature, place greater value on the future and generally have a healthier lifestyle.

  • Natural elements help to reduce mental fatigue.

  • When we work, we are usually exposed to built environments and our concentration is focused for extended periods of time.

  • When we find ourselves in nature, we aren’t concentrating in this same way and we tend to find ourselves fascinated or in awe of our surroundings.

This has a positive effect on our overall well-being – like a fatigued muscle, our mind starts to be restored with rest.When we are out in nature, we are usually moving and this is different to the way we spend most of our working days. On top of this, just being in nature helps to calm us. Although we can’t always get outside and enjoy all of what nature has to offer, we know that there are many benefits of natural elements.

Recent studies show that people working in colourful and vibrant offices are more alert, confident and friendlier than those work in dull spaces.Sunlight or bright lights generally influences alertness and vitality, so it goes without saying that exposure to direct and indirect sunlight, along with other natural elements, positively impacts workers mental health results. However, when lighting becomes too low or too bright, the employee’s mood will drop and they may not be as productive when it comes to getting work done.

Improving the mood

Some ideas for improving the mood within your organisation include:

  • Office plants

  • Window views

  • Photographs or paintings of nature

  • Colour

  • Lighting

  • Shapes and the aesthetics of our surroundings.

Think carefully about the next meeting you are holding and what you want to achieve. Do you want an energetic meeting full of fresh and new ideas?

There are so many ways the meeting space could be enhanced to best support your goals.Is the layout of the room clutter free? Are there bright lightening, plants or even inspiring images on the walls? You can also make sure that there is plenty of water and reduce the amount of angular furniture in the room.

Perhaps you can also consider having your next meeting outdoors at your local park or cafe. Imagine what it might be like stopping to smell the roses and stretching your legs in the park during your next check in meeting.

How might the conversation be different and what might the benefits be?

Not to mention that you are getting your daily dose of exercise amongst nature, where you are also benefiting from the sunlight. Regular exposure to nature can profoundly affect your mind and overall wellness. It can heal, soothe and restore your physical, emotional, mental and social health, as well as enable you to bond with others.

Research reveals the human body is sensitive to the environment. What you see and hear can affect your mood along with your nervous, endocrine and immune system. When you are in an unpleasant environment, you feel stressed, which causes a range of adverse health consequences. Conversely, exposure to the beauty and peace of nature fosters bodily responses that are the opposite of these unhealthful effects.

Every aspect of wellness can be enhanced through frequent encounters with nature.Recent research has also brought to light that exposure to natural elements and sunlight can also influence job satisfaction and organisation commitment. It’s no secret that job satisfaction results from a job meeting expectations for what an employee values. As natural elements and sunlight exposure are valued resources, they are associated with greater job satisfaction.

The natural environment can benefit our health, and quality of life. Both at work and in our daily lives.

While we can all take one small step today ourselves, we are never alone. Grab a colleague or set up a team challenge and see what steps you can take to improve your well-being focus at work.

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