The employee view: mental health support

11Sep 16

How Lloyds Banking Group supports good mental health through line manager training and an inclusive culture

My mental health experiences have completely changed the way I approach working life. A year ago I decided to temporarily step down from my position as colleague services and business management director at Lloyds Banking Group. I had been struggling with depression and anxiety and couldn’t see the situation improving unless I took some time to focus on getting better.

During this time I was also diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. Some would see these episodes as setbacks, and in many ways they are. But they have also been huge learning opportunities for me, transforming the way I interact with both my employer and my colleagues.

A key example of this is my relationship with Lloyds Banking Group. I used to see employment as a one-sided service contract, but I now see it as a collaboration between equal partners. This shift has come as a result of the support and time I received from the group. I know now that it wants me to perform at my best and feel healthy. Understanding that this is a shared goal and that I can take as well as give has been a huge help in managing my condition.

Being aware of my triggers means I’ve put a number of measures in place to ensure I strike the right balance between looking after my mental health and being the best colleague I can. For instance, one side-effect of my medication is short-term memory problems, and sentences can come out muddled if I’m tired or stressed.

I’ve discovered that concentrating on one thing at a time enables me to perform at my best. One way I manage this is allowing five to 10 minutes between each meeting to review my daily plan and refocus. Where possible I try not to rush inbetween appointments or check my phone during meetings so I can stay focused and avoid overload.

I also know that if I’m not feeling well it’s best to address the problem head-on. This is usually as simple as taking some time out and rescheduling, allowing me to reset and return to work refreshed either later that day or the next. I’m lucky to work in an environment where I can be open and honest with my colleagues, and they understand that occasionally these things happen. The support I received from the group was crucial in my recovery.

Everyone is different, and what works for me isn’t necessarily appropriate for someone else with the same condition. I’m grateful to have been given the space to explore this, but I know that others aren’t so lucky. As a line manager myself, my own experiences have made me aware that you can’t always tell when someone is struggling. So I try to be as open and approachable as I can.

Mental health has long been a big taboo in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be. Training is essential to demystify mental health and ensure line managers are well-equipped to handle whatever might come their way. It’s something that businesses from the smallest to the largest can implement.

Lloyds Banking Group supports this with a set of broader initiatives, including dedicated intranet pages and a support number for all colleagues, as well as an ‘Access Network’ that connects staff with mental health problems or disabilities through newsletters, events and mentoring schemes. But most important is the group’s inclusive culture.

Every organisation should strive to foster an inclusive environment. Sometimes that involves the business being flexible and making accommodations, or individuals taking the time to listen to colleagues. No organisation is perfect, but keeping lines of communication open is a good start.

Jon Howcroft Stemp is business management director at Lloyds Banking Group

Is getting more sleep better for your career?

25Aug 16

Traditionally, in the macho corporate world how little sleep you get is often a badge of honour.

High-profile bosses such as Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, PepsiCo’s Indra Nooyi and Fiat Chrysler’s Sergio Marchionne all boast of thriving on just four hours sleep a night.

Basically “sleep is for wimps” and the sooner you get up after you’ve gone to bed the better is the gung-ho attitude.

Yet what if the opposite was true: that the more hours you had in bed, the better it was for your career?

“It was unsustainable. I couldn’t do my job any more,” a 23-year-old management consultant at a big corporate firm tells me.

The issue was sleep, or rather the lack of it. She had never been a good sleeper, but starting her first professional role pushed her to breaking point.

“It was a shock compared to university. Expectations had increased and I was juggling a lot of balls. I had a harder time winding down and disconnecting,” she says.

While she fell asleep easily, she would wake up again just four hours later with her mind racing and was unable to drop off again.

At work she found it hard to concentrate and couldn’t produce as much in the same time. At weekends she avoiding socialising to try and recuperate ahead of work on Monday again.

In the end she paid to do a one-day sleep course which gave her techniques to help her cope, including breathing exercises, taking short breaks to switch off during the day, as well as regular exercise.

The experience was so helpful that she told her employer, who is now funding some places on the course for staff.

She believes people should be more open about how not getting enough sleep affects their performance at work, although she’s not willing for me to publish either her name or company.

In fact, as I find out when trying to speak to people for this article, while some firms are beginning to look at how well – or not – their employees sleep, they’re rarely willing to say so publicly.

One exception is accountancy firm PwC. Three years ago, the blue-chip firm included a section on the importance of sleep as part of a training programme on resilience.

The course, which was done by 4,500 of its UK staff, focused on how to keep physically and mentally well while doing a demanding, fast-paced job.

The level of interest was so high that 18 months ago the firm opened up the course to all its UK staff. As part of this, it brought in a specialist sleep expert to run sessions and put tips on sleeping prominently on its intranet.

It’s still too early to measure the impact of the training, but anecdotal feedback has been positive and the firm is currently assessing additional options to help staff improve their sleep, such as apps and online training courses.

“Apart from doing the right thing, there’s a hard commercial edge to this. Sleep is absolutely crucial to performance,” says Sally Evans, senior manager of diversity and inclusion and employee wellbeing at PwC.

Yet while the detrimental effects of not getting enough sleep on work performance and health have been well documented, there is far less research on the opposite: the benefits of more sleep.

One exception is a Stanford University School of Medicine study which found basketball players at elite college level were able to improve their on-court performance by increasing their sleep to 10 hours a night for five to seven weeks.

In the UK, research by the Rand Corporation, based on data from 21,822 employees, found that the productivity of those who slept between seven and eight hours a night was significantly better than those who slept less than five hours a night.

Similarly, a recent survey of more than 7,000 US adults found people who reported getting more sleep also had a higher overall sense of well-being than those who said they got less sleep.

But surely how well you sleep is a personal matter. Is it really appropriate for an employer to get involved?

Sleep and insomnia specialist Dr Guy Meadows, the founder of sleep consultancy The Sleep School, says it is not about forcing people, but giving them the information they need to “make the right choice”.

“In the past sleeping was referred to as cheating. The tide is changing. You can’t get away from the wealth of scientific research showing sleep deprivation is mentally, emotionally and physically damaging,” he says.

He started running a programme aimed specifically at companies after several firms came to him saying that internal surveys had highlighted sleep as a major problem.

“People were saying they were stressed and couldn’t switch off.”

Dr Guy Meadows’ tips for better sleeping:

  • Everyone has a different inbuilt, genetic number of hours they need to sleep ranging from four to 12 hours. Most people (90%) need between seven and eight hours sleep a night
  • Make time for yourself during the working day, take moments to switch off
  • Set an alarm to go to bed
  • Stop watching box sets until late at night
  • Don’t have your mobile phone in your bedroom, the blue light it emits reduces sleep quality

 

US mattress industry booming thanks to new focus on sleep

The consultancy, whose clients include PwC, Lloyds, Unilever, Olympus, Ogilvy & Mather and smoothie-maker Innocent, initially asks employees to fill out details about their sleep and then it gives them a score so they know how well they’re doing, before giving them tools to improve it.

All of this data is anonymous and only shared with the employer as averages.

For companies, paying to help improve employees’ sleep and prevent them “burning out” or making costly mistakes makes “valuable sense”, he argues.

But in an increasingly global world where employees are often required to travel or take calls from overseas at unsociable hours, can check work emails around the clock and are able to work from home as easily as they do in the office, is getting more sleep really realistic?

Nancy Rothstein, who consults and lectures on sleep wellness to employers, says it is but only if corporate culture changes accordingly and if more people are willing to talk openly about the issue.

If a senior executive is sending emails into the small hours, or doing long days then those lower down the hierarchy will feel obliged to follow suit, she says.

Addressing this, she admits, is a relatively slow process with the idea of sleep as a company issue still new, but she believes it is “an executive imperative”.

“The culture we’ve created is not sustainable. Everyone’s crying, ‘I can’t keep this up.'”

For the graduate management consultant the change has been that she can now keep up with her job’s demands. While she still has sleepless nights, these periods now last for three nights not three weeks.

“And when it does happen I don’t go into panic mode. I know I have the tools to deal with it,” she says.

Original source can be read here

What are employees doing to address obesity?

14Jul 16

Published in Forbes: By Karen Higginbottom

Obesity in the workplace in the Western world is an increasing concern, both for employers and productivity. Officially, more than one-third (35.1%) of adults over the age of 20 in the United States are classified as obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The implications of a sedentary workforce shouldn’t be underestimated: Sitting is more disruptive to workplace productivity than cyber-loafing according to an Ergotron 2016 JustStand Index. Banking is a pretty sedentary profession, so how does the sector fare when it comes to supporting the physical well-being of its employees?

U.S. firms are more advanced in delivering well-being programs than their U.K. counterparts. Approximately, half of U.S. employers offer wellness promotion initiatives, according to a 2013 survey by RAND and larger employers are more likely to have complex programs.

So what are organizations doing to ensure the physical well-being of their employees? Twenty-nine percent of employers identify obesity as a significant issue for their company, according to a global 2015/2016 Willis Towers Watson Staying@Work survey of 1669 employers in the U.S., Europe, Middle East and Asia. The research found that two-thirds of employers offer gym subsidies, but only 18% of employers offer weight management programs. More than half of employers sponsor fitness challenges between locations.

Some financial institutions have on-site gym facilities and classes, comments Kirsten Samuel, managing director, employee well-being specialist for Kamwell. “Other things like cycle-to-work schemes are widely used by employers in this sector. There are more creative scheme coming in such as the introduction of ‘High Octane Rides’ in Barclays , where staff have the chance of getting bursts of activity from using exercise bikes in between meetings and other tasks.”

Wellness programs have been a part of the benefits package for quite some time, remarks Jeff Oldham, vice-president, Benefitstore at Benefitfocus. “However, some of the larger enterprises are incorporating more innovative programs to address the varied needs of employees and encourage engagement to augment the more traditional wellness programs like on-site flu shots and vaccinations, smoking cessation programs, health screening and nutrition solutions.”

Finance firms are also looking to partner with the wearable tech providers to supply their workforces with fitness gadgets like Fitbits to monitor physical activity – a good way of getting people to think about their levels of activity, said Samuel. “There are examples of some even going as far as to create internal corporate challenges where individuals and teams can compete against each other.”

Why does physical well-being matter in the workplace? There is a lot of data showing the links between stress, depression and weight gain. Chronic stress is implicated in the development of obesity, and prolonged chronic stress pushes up blood sugar, impacts on the immune system and has a wide number of metabolic effects.

The ways in which physical fitness and increased mental agility link to productivity and reduced sickness absence are recognized by large employers and employees alike, remarks Samuel. “Organizations are aware of the fact that healthy, happy employees can be a catalyst for high-performing individuals and teams.”

HR can play a vital role in developing corporate well-being programs, added Samuel. “It’s the job of HR to understand the mechanics of its workforce and the relationship between people and organizational performance. Health is part of the formal duty of care that employers have and that falls into the HR remit. More than this, HR is the function best equipped to make the important links between well-being and the broader business and people strategy and has the tools to leverage employer and employee buy-in to well-being programs.”

In the U.S., the focus on physical wellness has been accelerated by rising health costs and the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act, said Oldham. “It’s also proven to be an effective way to improve productivity and reduce absenteeism. However, HR is not just focused on physical wellness programs but is also looking for ways to address emotional well-being, mental health and financial wellness as physical ailments are often a symptom of a larger cause and other life stressors.”

Oldham added that regardless of what a wellness program is looking to address, it’s important they are inclusive for all employees and can be tracked alongside individual goals to show that they are actually helping to improve the health of employees.

TREAT CRED: Should offices promote smarter snacking?

14Apr 16

Most offices, most days, look like the Cadbury’s warehouse. Sugary stuff gets wheeled out whatever the occasion. Someone’s birthday? Buy a cake. Won a contract? Buy a cake. Lost a contract? Gosh, well, we’d better just buy a bigger cake to cheer everyone up, hadn’t we?

‘We’re all conditioned to the idea that we celebrate with cakes and sweet treats, and the workplace is no different,’ says Kirsten Samuel from wellbeing firm Kamwell. ‘But treats are also used as a means of coping with stress and everyday pressures.’

‘On one level, of course, it’s a positive part of a working environment – a perk, something that brings everyone together. But in wellbeing terms the culture of cake is a problem.’

Yes, there’s an obesity ‘epidemic’, as illustrated by this Mail Online article on the burgeoning market for 80 inch waistbands. And given so many of us spend at least one third of our lives at work, it’s probably there where a lot of damage flab-wise is occurring.

But there’s also a swing towards healthier eating in the workplace. Pop along to most offices nowadays and there’ll be a fruit basket lurking in some communal area.

Go to the workplaces that specialise in young, beautiful employees – LinkedIn, we’re looking at you – and you’ll find the whole place is dripping with kale and nuts. Online companies are about as tolerant of sugar as they are of HMRC inspectors.

Mood swings

What’s the science bit, then?

‘When we’re stressed, our bodies release a hormone that tells the brain we need a boost of energy,’ Samuel explains. ‘The quick fix is to eat anything full of carbohydrates. Bad feelings like anger and frustration will seem to melt away because the sugar and new energy makes us feel better in the short-term.’

‘But it also affects our blood sugar balance, making us more susceptible to mood swings. Over time we become more reliant on sugary foods to help us deal with stress and uncomfortable situations. We become less satisfied with healthy foods alone, because we’re so reliant on sugary foods, displacing our need for more nutritious complex carbohydrates.’

So it’s a vicious cycle – the more sugary stodge you scoff, the more of it you need to function. But how can organisations change their snacking habits?

Kremed off

‘We’re seeing many examples now of employees complaining that lunchtime foods on offer aren’t healthy enough,’ says Samuel. ‘So in many cases you’re pushing against an open door when it comes to the treats. There’s also a perception that healthy food is more expensive than sticky buns or Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and so constitutes more of a luxury.’

‘Start the change by asking employees what they’d actually like as treats on a Friday afternoon – you’ll be surprised by the responses.’

Samuel suggests alternatives that could break the carbs and sugar cycle. Specifically, she’s a fan of sushi, protein balls and bars, fresh fruit and vegetable juices and big healthy breakfasts that set people up for the day.

She also reminds us that treats don’t necessarily have to be food-based.

‘It’s worth shaking up the norms and expectations by including routine screen breaks, encouraging a full lunch break, desk massage and group desk-ercise’ she adds.

Well, yes. But don’t forget to take organisational and sector cultural preferences into account before you take the dive into full on treat revolutions.

Walking into the storage depot, replacing the Yorkies with cucumber sticks and insisting Dave give Sven a back massage might seem a good idea – but we wouldn’t put money on your wellbeing being up to much afterwards.

Also published in HRVille

Find out how mindfulness meditation improves your health

05Feb 16

Mindfulness meditation is the key to staying healthy and calm.

Much of the health benefits associated with mindfulnes meditation training is due to the changes that this form of meditation causes in the brain, suggests new research. In mindfullnes meditation people make a conscious, focused practice of attending to their current state and sensations. ‘We have now seen that mindfulness meditation training can reduce inflammatory biomarkers in several initial studies, and this new work sheds light into what mindfulness training is doing to the brain to produce these inflammatory health benefits,’ said lead author David Creswell, associate professor of psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US. Published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, the new study showed that mindfulness meditation training, compared to relaxation training, reduces Interleukin-6, an inflammatory health biomarker, in high-stress, unemployed community adults. (Read: Want to age gracefully? Do yoga and meditation starting today!)

For the randomised controlled trial, 35 job-seeking, stressed adults were exposed to either an intensive three-day mindfulness meditation retreat programme or a well-matched relaxation retreat programme that did not have a mindfulness component. All participants completed a five-minute resting state brain scan before and after the three-day programme. They also provided blood samples right before the intervention began and at a four-month follow-up. (Read: Scientifically proven meditation benefits that’ll make you want to start now!

The brain scans showed that mindfulness meditation training increased the functional connectivity of the participants’ resting default mode network in areas important to attention and executive control, namely the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. Participants who received the relaxation training did not show these brain changes. The participants who completed the mindfulness meditation program also had reduced IL-6 levels, and the changes in brain functional connectivity coupling accounted for the lower inflammation levels. ‘We think that these brain changes provide a neurobiological marker for improved executive control and stress resilience, such that mindfulness meditation training improves your brain’s ability to help you manage stress, and these changes improve a broad range of stress-related health outcomes, such as your inflammatory health,’ Creswell said. (Read: Ease your pain with mindfulness meditation. It really works!)

Source: IANS

The Health Site

Stress In The Workplace: How To Tackle The Taboo Topic And Ensure A Happier, Healthier and More Profitable Business

04Feb 16

With one in five people in the UK taking at least one day off a year due to stress, and even more worryingly 93 percent of these lying about the reason for their absence, it’s clear that mental illness is both increasingly prevalent, and yet still a taboo subject. Kevin Rogers, CEO of Paycare – a not-for-profit health cover provider – outlines the impact of mental health on not only the employee, but the business as a whole, explains how companies can up their game to ensure their workforce feel empowered and supported, and discusses what measures they can put in place to ultimately ensure a happier, healthier and more profitable bottom-line.

Coats, the world’s leading industrial thread and consumer textile crafts business, has appointed Valerie Hayden as Human Resources Director, Asia, Industrial. Valerie joins from Dentsu Aegis Network, a global media group, where she was Regional Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific. Valerie will work on all aspects of HR to help support the growth of Coats’ Industrial business in Asia. This includes HR leadership and advice on talent management, performance management, engagement, recruitment and reward. She will also be a member of Coats’ Asia leadership team.

Valerie has more than 25 years’ HR experience gained across a broad range of industries including manufacturing. She has been based in Asia for nearly 20 years and former roles include Senior Vice President, Human Resources at Swiss Re, as well as senior HR positions at Rolls Royce Singapore, Novell Asia Pacific (a business software provider) and Hilton International, Middle East and Asia Pacific. Andy Speak, Chief HR Officer, Coats, said: Valerie’s broad range of experience and base in Singapore ideally position her to provide HR leadership to the Asia management team and to lead and mentor the Asia HR team.’

Valerie has a Bachelor of Arts in International Business and Organisational Management from Illinois State University where she also won the Outstanding Senior in International Business award for the highest grade point average in her year. She is certified in various registered psychometric tools and courses including MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator), Firo-B, OPQ and the full suite of SHL’s assessment tools. Valerie is also a professionally trained Executive Coach. Valerie reports to Ashok Mathur, Chief Operating Officer, Asia Industrial and is based in Singapore.

http://HRD

88% of employees regularly experience stress

01Feb 16

More than two-fifths (88%) of UK respondents regularly experience stress at work, according to research by human capital management firm ADP.

Its The workforce view in Europe 2015/16 report, which surveyed 11,257 working adults across Europe, including 1,500 employees in the UK, also found that over three-quarters (79%) of UK respondents feel that their employer is trying to help them manage stress levels.

The research also found:

43% of UK respondents say that stress is a constant factor in their roles and that they feel stressed often or very often.

Just 12% of UK respondents have never experienced workplace stress.

Almost a third (31%) cite a good work-life balance as the most motivating factor at work, followed by the ability to work when and where they want (29%)

Around a quarter (24%) name employee benefits that focus on long-term financial welfare as the top motivating factor at work.

36% of UK respondents would like a mixture of flexible and fixed hours, and 37% would like to adopt a totally flexible working pattern.

Leon Vergnes, senior vice president Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) at ADP, said: “Over the past few years, we have seen employee attitudes toward work-life balance and the quality of life shift dramatically. We believe this is more than just a passing trend, and employee desires are really affecting how organisations operate.

“The appetite for flexible working opportunities is on the rise, and we also expect to see an increasing demand for employee benefits that support health and wellbeing. Employers must ensure that they can respond to these demands and have the support and technology in place to make the change possible.”

Employee Benefits By Marianne Calnan

Time to Talk? Five Tips for Starting the Conversation about Mental Health

20Jan 16

Today is Time to Talk Day – a day when many of us working or living with mental health issues make a particular effort to start conversations about mental health in a bid to raise awareness, reduce stigma and tackle misconceptions.

Many people are unsure about how to start the conversation though, especially when worried about a friend… so here are some ideas, inspired by people whose friends or loved ones did start the conversation:

Persevere
“It took me a lot of time to be honest with my friend. It was about the fifth time she asked that I finally admitted something was wrong.”

If you’re worried about a friend, finding the courage to have the conversation once is likely not to be enough. Your friend may have had ongoing issues for some time and they may be absolutely terrified to open up about them. They may fear the reaction they’ll receive. They may be upset or confused about their own thoughts or feelings. They might simply not have the right words to say. So don’t just ask once. Persevere with your offers of kindness and listening, you never know when the right moment for the conversation might arise.

Chat whilst doing other things
“My friend finally opened up to me when we were skating in the park. I guess it felt a bit less intense and we were relaxed.”

This could be a pretty intense conversation and might simply feel a bit too much one-to-one. Talking about these issues whilst doing something else you both enjoy might help to break the ice a bit and let the conversation flow slightly less intensely.

Say something
“I didn’t know what to say but eventually realised that the only wrong thing to say was nothing, so I just got on with it and started the conversation. It felt a bit awkward at first but not for long.”

Even if you fumble over your words or don’t say quite the right thing, saying something shows we care and it gets the conversation started. The more we’re open to these conversations the more quickly we’ll learn the right and wrong things to say. At the start, the only wrong thing to say is nothing at all.

Act normally
“My Mum gave me some really good advice, she said ‘He’s still your friend, nothing can change that, just talk to him like you would about anything else, he might be ill but he’s not a different person.’”

Just because they might have a mental health issue doesn’t mean someone suddenly turns into a completely different person. Just talk to them as you always have – draw on the things that normally fuel your conversations and make you feel good together.

Don’t judge
“I was worried what my friends would think about me – it was really important to me to know that they wouldn’t judge me because of my self-harm.”

Those of us with mental health issues live in constant fear of judgement. A good friend never judges, they just open their arms and hearts and offer unconditional support. Make it clear that you are that friend from early on in the conversation, you won’t believe the relief your words and actions will bring.

Let your friend tell their own story
“The most helpful thing my friend did was just listen and let me talk.”

Don’t assume or guess what your friend is going through or why they feel the way they do. Instead just listen. Let them tell their own story, even if that is slow or difficult at times. It can be hard, especially when we’re just getting started with opening up, but it’s our story, not yours – listening is the very most helpful and important thing you can do just now.

Think about next steps
“I was too scared to ask for any help, but my friend helped me realise why it was important, and she came with me too.”

If a friend feels safe opening up to you, discuss with them about what you might do together to try to make things a little easier. What support could you seek and how could you go about that together? The journey is a lot less lonely and terrifying when you have a friend to accompany you.

HUFFPOST Lifestyle Dr Pooky Knightsmith

The global impact of biophilic design in the workplace

08Jan 16

Should a ‘work’ place be any different from the other spaces people inhabit? The relationship between individuals and their environment can be a crucial determinant of how they feel, perform and interact with others. So, designing spaces that inspire, energize and support the people who use them is a global imperative.

People’s connection to nature – biophilia – is an emergent field that can help organizations meet that challenge. This unique study explores the relationship between psychological well-being, work environments and employee expectations on a global scale for the first time.Biophilia, a concept first popularized by Edward O. Wilson in 19841, describes the innate relationship between humans and nature, and concerns the need we have to be continually connected to nature. Plenty of research confirms this human preference for the natural, rather than built, environment2. For example, in a 2004 study, when asked to describe their ideal city, people more often chose non-urban characteristics, greenery in particular3, and in other studies it has been shown that a pleasant and natural view can raise the price of a house considerably4.

Although it has been proposed that this desire for a connection with nature is the result of an anti-urban bias combined with a romantic view of nature, environmental psychology research tells us that being connected to nature, is in fact, an adaptive human function that allows for, and assists with, psychological restoration5.

This means that within an urbanized environment, bringing in elements that allow direct nature connection (such as parks and lakes) or indirect connections (i.e., interior design using natural elements, nature-resembling colours and patterns, indoor plants and views of greenery) can help us to mentally recover and provide respite from our day-to-day activities, to maintain positive well-being.

THE IMPACT OF BIOPHILIA

1. Wellbeing

A key factor in maintaining positive well-being is reducing levels of stress. Research has identified that visible connections to nature can have a positive effect on an individual’s reported stress levels. In a review of numerous studies looking at the effects of different landscapes on health, it was found that natural landscapes had a more positive effect compared to urban landscapes6.

In fact, in some cases, urban landscapes had a negative effect. According to our findings, this is certainly the case in France, where views of natural scenes such as greenery, wildlife and even ocean views were linked to the greatest levels of well-being among office workers and window views of urban scenes, such as roads and buildings were linked to a lower sense of well-being.

Our data shows that, in Canada, the provision of green space is important in ensuring that workers’ well-being is at a positive level. This is supported in recent empirical research that looked at the associations between well-being and nature connectedness among a student population. Significant associations emerged, showing that when people were connected to nature in both their internal and external environment, they reported much greater levels of well-being7.

Our analysis has shown that perceptions of well-being can increase by up to 15% when people work in surroundings that incorporate natural elements, providing that connection to nature, in contrast to those who have no contact to nature in their workplace. An increase of this size is certainly significant with such a large sample that is representative of the global population. For well-being to increase this dramatically is evidence of the power of biophilic design in the workplace and the positive impact that this can have on employees.

GLOBAL RESEARCH FINDINGS

Natural elements positively linked to well-being at work:

  • Nature views: Having no window view was significantly related to greater levels of reported stress. In contrast, window views of greenery and water were linked with lower levels of stress.
  • Accent colours: Employee well-being is positively impacted by offices that incorporate nature-resembling colours such as green, blue and brown. It was also found that the use of gray colours within the workspace had a significant negative impact on employees’ levels of stress.
  • Nature within the workspace: Across the world, those who work in offices that provide natural light, live plants and greenery along with water features, report significantly higher levels of well-being than those who work in environments devoid of nature.
  • Light and spacious workspaces: Those who report that their work environment provides a sense of light and space report greater levels of well-being in comparison to those who do not feel that their work environment is light and spacious.

 

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