We’ve all got a rough idea of what a healthy work environment is. It’s definitely positive, and it’s essential for the success of a team, but if you ask 100 people, “What is a healthy work environment?”, you’ll get 100 different answers.
To get things clear, the definition of a healthy work environment implies a physical or remote workplace that presents no barriers to productivity. It is an all-encompassing concept that covers the four fundamental pillars:
We’re going to dive into the details of why each pillar is important to building a healthy work environment, and what strategies support them. So if you’re looking for a savvy way to improve employee satisfaction and productivity while reducing high absenteeism and turnover, this article is for you.
With multipronged pressures from economic uncertainty, inflation, climate anxiety, and social media, mental wellbeing has been at the forefront of discussions in all areas of life. In the context of a healthy work environment, good mental wellbeing is often at the root of high productivity, creative innovation, and low turnover. On the flip side, if you fail to maintain healthy minds in your company, you can expect a drop in motivation, leading to lower performance, and employees looking for opportunities elsewhere.
The science agrees. Positive mental health gives people confidence and motivation, which in turn facilitates clear thinking, improved decision-making, and resilience to stress and adversity. Knowing how to create a healthy work environment with a focus on mental wellbeing can help to keep your team united and motivated, which is a key factor of success.
So what strategies can you put in place to promote mental wellbeing?
We’ve all had a boss who breeds negativity around the workplace. Whether it’s micromanagement, toxic relationships, or disinterest, poor management has a trickle-down effect that spreads throughout your team. But on the plus side, so does good management.
When considering how to create a healthy work environment, strong communication from managers has to be at the heart of your thinking. An easy strategy is to block out one afternoon a week where workers can come to you to raise concerns and offer areas for improvement. As a leader, you need to be understanding and give each meeting your full attention, whether it is work-related or a personal issue.
For effective suggestions that you adopt in your workflows, offer public praise. Gradually, you’ll create a positive feedback loop where your team feels valued and has the confidence to come to you with suggestions.
Upskilling has been a buzzword for quite a while now and for good reason. Nobody wants to feel stagnant in a job, unable to grow, doing the same repetitive tasks day in, day out. Therefore, your strategy for creating a positive and healthy work environment should include a philosophy of continuous learning and professional development.
Organizing training sessions to expand your employees’ skillset gives them a sense of progression within the company and shows that you are invested in their future. But as we’ll come to later, there’s only so far that upskilling can take you. At some point, people’s individual improvement needs to turn into different job titles and a higher pay grade.
A psychologically safe and mentally stimulating workplace does wonders for team cohesion and overall performance. When people feel at home in the office, they wake up wanting to go to work and are much more likely to get involved and invested in the company’s success.
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In the quagmire of mental health, it’s easy to forget that physical wellbeing is just as important for a healthy work environment. Even if all your work takes place in the cloud, humans are still part of the process, and their physical wellbeing is not a luxury; it’s a necessity.
Good physical health is intrinsically linked to mental health, with fit people more likely to be alert, engaged, and productive at work. All of these factors contribute not only to improved performance in the short-term but a more sustainable workplace looking forward.
So how do you go about creating a healthy work environment in a physical sense?
While hardware like ergonomic keyboards and stand-up desks are crucial for physical health, one of the most decisive factors in a healthy work environment is fair and achievable workloads.
At some point, we’ve probably all felt the pressure and pulled an all-nighter to hit a deadline. And yes, you might be able to get away with it once (in your early twenties at least), but that always-on mentality is a one-way ticket to burnout.
As a manager, you can’t get the most out of your team if they’re physically overwhelmed, which makes smart time management a real secret to success. Start by measuring the time taken to do daily tasks and take the guesswork out of planning your team’s day. With the right performance analytics, you’ll be able to see when tasks are frequently overrunning and step in early to protect people from too much stress and exhaustion.
It’s a curious fact that the improved wealth of a country brings with it a new set of physical illnesses and injuries. Rates of heart attacks, allergies, and back pain have skyrocketed as we’ve moved to a more sedentary, indoor lifestyle, and that’s not just bad for the individual. Absenteeism is a blight on the modern workforce as it is a major factor behind a drop in productivity.
So to promote a healthy work environment, get your team together and find out what they need to make them comfortable at work. Offer up suggestions such as adjustable desks and air-purifying plants to get the ball rolling. Then, prepare to listen to ideas you may not have thought of, such as yoga classes and flu packs as the cold weather draws in.
Physical health in the workplace is a far-reaching concept that covers fatigue, illness, and injury, making it a cornerstone of creating a healthy environment. Therefore, constructing a comfortable physical space and investing in your workers’ health pay dividends in long-term high performance.
Social wellbeing is integral to any definition of a healthy work environment, both as a stand-alone pillar and in the way that it overlaps with mental wellbeing. A feeling of belonging is an essential part of the human experience and manifests itself in religious beliefs, supporting a sports team, and even in the mega fandom of pop stars.
When it comes to social cohesion in a company, the structures are almost identical. Religious rituals transform into repeated social events, the sports team badge becomes a company logo, and if you’re smart, you can transform the loyalty seen in fanbases into ambassadorship for your work environment.
Social wellbeing in a company means an inclusive work culture, an open-door policy, and connections that go beyond simply working together. The result of a healthy social side in your business is a boost in teamwork, cooperation, and innovation. But to include social wellbeing as a pillar of a healthy work environment, you need to put in the hard work on both a structural and a strategic level.
If you want people to let their hair down and really get to know each other, team-building events are an easy option. Myriad companies have realized the importance of a healthy work environment and organize events that are engaging for all personality types. Whether it’s a scavenger hunt, blind directions, or a hackathon, the relaxed environment of team-building activities is a breeding ground for deepening personal connections.
You can facilitate a socially healthy work environment by offering opportunities for your team to interact outside of task-based interactions. Let’s say you have some avid gamers on your team. Putting a games console in the break room is a fantastic ice breaker for new recruits and a social focal point during lunch. Even if you run tournaments during work hours, the time lost to gaming may be worth it, considering the collaborative, united environment that may come out of it.
But it doesn’t have to be as adventurous as that. You can offer a variety of instant messenger channels for people to talk about their shared interests — it’s like water cooler talk for remote teams. Similarly, giving your corporate intranet a social spin will allow people to celebrate each other’s success through badges and likes, and send wishes on someone’s birthday.
Similar to family units and friendship cliques, a work group should aspire to support each other through thick and thin. Backed by a trusted team, each individual gains the confidence to thrive.
A recent study by the American Psychological Association found that 72% of Americans reported feeling stressed about money at least once in the past month. Hiring like-minded individuals and providing them with perks can only go so far. Ultimately, money is crucial to survival and an enjoyable lifestyle, and if people are struggling to pay their bills, you’re going to see a drop in focus, engagement, and happiness.
But it’s not just the practical implications that make financial wellbeing so important in creating a positive and healthy work environment. Workers who know they are being underpaid can’t help but feel undervalued as a result. If these feelings aren’t addressed, they can evolve into resentment toward the company, which is kryptonite for productivity and collaboration.
So what can you do about it?
When you pick away at the simple concept of paying people what they’re worth, you find many deeper layers to back it up. Companies with high turnover hemorrhage money on constantly rehiring and retraining people, rather than putting a focus on staff retention.
Structure your payroll management with justifiable pay brackets. If two people doing the same job find out there’s a large salary gap between them, you can expect a toxic atmosphere in no time.
If you’re paying people what they’re worth, but some are still living on a month-by-month basis, you can still promote a healthy work environment by being fair and responsible about your payment policy. Late payment can lead to uncertainty, stress, and potential fines for people, so your business needs to be reliable and honest about payment.
With such powerful HR technology on the market today, there are no excuses for late or erroneous payments. With automated work time management, you can track working hours and automatically calculate wages, bonuses, and taxes, immediately taking human error out of the equation.
In summary, when employees know they’re being paid fairly and reliably, they feel valued by their employer, which leads to higher engagement.
Every manager out there should be striving for a healthy work environment, but the behavioral and strategic changes to achieve it take time.
However, one quick but substantial change you can make is to acquire the tools and technology to support your pillars. With features for every area of your business, Bitrix24 takes all your organizational processes to the next level.
From advanced time and project management tools to a comprehensive automated human resources information system (HRIS), you can accelerate all your efforts for a pleasant workplace.
And the best thing is, you can start for free. Sign up for Bitrix24 today and start your journey towards a healthy work environment.
The most important characteristics of a healthy work environment are:
To create a healthy work environment, leaders need to combine strategies, behaviors, and technologies aimed at strengthening the four pillars of mental, physical, social, and financial wellbeing.
The three advantages of a healthy work environment are:
Company growth and success, which is the result of the previous two advantages
The importance of a good working environment lies in its ability to boost motivation and productivity, which can often give a company an edge over its competitors.