Often when we think about a healthy workplace, we focus on ways to support employees’ physical health (think walkstations or incentivized diet and exercise programs). But what of employees’ mental health?
The American Psychological Association’s Center for Organizational Excellence identifies five practices of psychologically healthier workplaces:
- Involve employees in company decision-making
- Facilitate work-life balance
- Encourage and enable professional growth
- Prioritize safe working conditions
- Celebrate employee achievement
Businesses care about these factors because job stress costs US employers an estimated $300 billion annually in productivity costs related to absenteeism, turnover, medical expenses and legal and insurance fees. Employers surveyed by Willis Towers Watson earlier this year named stress as the Number 1 workforce issue, and nearly all respondents (91%) planned to introduce a formal health and productivity strategy to combat worker stress, among other health issues.
Our own workplace survey asks employees to identify challenges that can influence well-being, and many relate directly to the APA practices listed above. The results from these questions can point to spatial deficits or gaps in a workplace culture.
After all, design can improve the psychological health of employees. Access to natural light and views to nature can boost employee efficiency at work while also accounting for reduced absenteeism. Creating a flexible workplace can facilitate productivity through spaces that support a range of work styles. A well-designed and well-maintained workplace can tell employees that leaders value their comfort and their contributions.