According to Finnish Institute of Occupational Health workplace wellbeing consists of safe, healthy and productive work, that professional employees and work communities implement in a well-led organization.
Wellbeing at work is a hot topic for a reason. 24% of finnish working age population suffers from mild chronic fatigue at work. As much as 3% suffer from severe chronic fatigue. The wellbeing, whether good or bad, of employees is directly reflected in the company’s operation. Fatigue affects one’s ability to work and may lead to a long-term sick leave and even loss of the ability to work. The purpose of having a healthy work community is to enable a sustainable career for a person and a balanced quality of work for the business. Therefore having a healthy workplace is an advantage for the employer.
Employee has a responsibility to take care of their own ability to work. However, this gets hard if the working environment doesn’t support safe work or tasks are harder than the worker’s professional ability. The workload gets even heavier with having to work overtime and lack of breaks. Stressful work might occupy the mind on one’s free time as well, which leaves less room for recovery.
Employer’s responsibility is to guarantee a safe workplace where everyone has equal rights, where problems are addressed properly and also to provide sufficient tools and education for employees to successfully carry out tasks. Furthermore the more is invested in the employees, the more efficient and better results the business gets. An employer that cares for their workers’ health and the quality and quantity of their free time also cares about the future of their own business. But how?
Microbreaks for better results
Breaks might be statutory, but having them is often regarded as shameful. Too many think that having a break makes them look lazy. However, it’s not advisable to compromise on them, as they are proven to increase efficiency and sense of control over one’s work.
Could having breaks be encouraged instead of them making one feel self-conscious?
In some occupations, having a break seems almost impossible. If a 30 minute lunch break doesn’t fit the job, smaller breaks could keep the quality of work up. A microbreak is a short few minutes break and could be as small as replying to a friend’s text message. The effect is based on getting the mind completely off work for a while, which increases alertness and concentration while getting back to it.
The positive impact of a break is stronger if it’s used for one’s favourite activities. If it contains something kinetic, like exercising or just walking around the office, person’s working ability gets even better. Add a social aspect to this, like a shoulder massage from a coworker, and the break has maximised it’s effect.
Wellbeing at work is often thought of as limited to a certain time and place. However, a man doesn’t have a on/off switch – good and bad experiences affect him as a whole. This means that the choices one makes on their free time affect their ability to function at work, too. So why should an employer be interested only in what their employees do at work?
They shouldn’t! A lot of businesses already offer different perks to their employees in the form of exercising or cultural coupons. Anyhow, their usage is hard to monitor since they are often left unused or used by someone else. A much better way to make sure, that the investment in the health and wellbeing of the employees is worth it, is to have something like a guided meditation break or a gym corner at the workplace itself. Bringing wellness into the workplace also makes it easily accessible which motivates the workers to take care of themselves on their free time as well.
A wise employer chooses wellness services that support their employees specific needs. Hairdressers, construction workers and office workers, for example, work in a way that stresses the body in a certain, one-sided way. This requires versatile exercise or movement to counterbalance long hours of repetitive work. Even massaging and stretching at the end of the day could prevent a lot of work-related injuries and chronic pain.
On the long run, investing in the employee wellbeing is always profitable as it pays itself back in growth of efficiency and decrease in sick-leaves among other things. Nothing is more valuable to a business than a happy, loyal and a sustainably efficient worker.
Text: Liisa Oikkonen
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