Workplace Wellness

by Liggy Webb

Environment

It is extremely important to create an environment that is comfortable and stimulating and conducive to both physical and psychological wellbeing. This will contribute significantly to that all-important ‘feel good factor’ at work.

Modern technology owes ecology an apology.

Alan M Eddison

Most of us have worked in a range of work environments, some of which will certainly have been better than others. There are some really impressive examples of environments, ones where you can literally feel the positive effect that this has on staff and witness the benefits to staff morale and retention.

How to make the workplace physically better

There are several areas where small adjustments can often make a great difference.

Noise

If you feel that you may have a problem with the amount of noise within your workplace, then you need to get a measurement of noise levels taken by a competent person. Noise can be the cause of irreversible hearing damage and can also lead to increased levels of stress. Noise is normally caused by loud machines, so when buying any new plant or machinery, remember to check the noise emission levels. The remedies are usually quite simple – providing your employees with hearing protection, rotating the staff who work close to noisy machinery to decrease their exposure times and clearly marking any ‘high noise’ areas to warn people of the risk.

Ventilation

Fresh air is one of the most important elements of a working environment for several reasons:

  • Respiration
  • The removal of excess heat
  • The dilution of various airborne impurities (dust, fumes, tobacco smoke, body odour).

Adequate ventilation can be provided by simply allowing windows to be opened. Air conditioning systems cannot be counted as fresh air systems, as the air is recirculated and therefore not as effective, particularly as it can still carry germs and other impurities.

Temperature

The minimum temperature for sedentary work is 16 Celsius (about 60 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for work involving physical effort, the minimum should be 13 degrees Celsius (about 55 Fahrenheit). Thermometers should be provided to allow monitoring of these levels.

Tidiness

Take responsibility to keep your work area tidy. Always put things back where you found them. Clear up if you make a drink and be as tidy as possible. You will feel so much better and it is also much more considerate to those around you.

Pictures

Visual images at work can really help to raise morale. Positive pictures, with happy faces and beautiful scenery, can promote a good atmosphere. In some organisations, posters with motivational quotes are hung up to inspire people and to reinforce a positive mental attitude. I have also seen the Desiderata framed and put up in many offices – this is a wonderful and inspirational poem.

Lighting

There are various reasons why lighting is important in the workplace, including the illumination of potential hazards and to prevent eye strain. There are various other considerations: fluorescent lighting should not flicker; there should be no glare, and there should be no sudden contrast in levels of lighting. All light fittings should be kept clean and ideally the ceiling should be light-coloured to reflect the light.

Music

Music in a work setting can be very beneficial and can improve productivity. Studies have shown that music in the workplace promotes a positive mood and a sense of team, improves alertness and can lessen the occurrence of accidents. Obviously this needs to be appropriate as, in some work environments, it would be completely unsuitable and employers also need to consider the type of music played. The mood and style should fit the business. Experts suggest all-instrumental soundtracks so that workers don’t become distracted by the lyrics.