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Today’s candidates expect more out of employers to provide a positive employee experience, including benefits — and rightfully so. But you may be surprised at what employees really want. While nearly all employees expect major health benefits, the average $3.6 million spent this year on wellness programs in the U.S. may not be impacting productivity in a meaningful way.

A recent Harvard study revealed 80% of large U.S. companies offer wellness programs and many yield unimpressive results. Standing desks, yoga rooms, and tech-based health tools? Not so fast. Future Workplace and View survey found employees want better air quality, natural light, and the ability to personalize their workspace. What?

Poor air quality makes employees sleepier during the day, said 50% of respondents. And a properly ventilated workplace with access to natural light and comfortable temperatures can reduce up to 4 days of absenteeism a year! Employees desire the same conveniences in the workplace that they experience at home. 42% would rather personalize their cube or office, while only 28% would choose unlimited vacation, according to the Future Workplace and View survey. Nearly 50% would like access to an app to set the temperature in their workspace.

If air quality and light are the biggest benefits driving employee performance, productivity, and well-being, where are we focusing efforts?

A 2018 SHRM study showed organizations that increased benefits offerings in the last 12 months, 44% increased their wellness benefits, and 75% of employers offer wellness resources and information and/or a general wellness program.

Companies focusing on the basics of employee wellness will increase current rates of productivity and improve their ability to attract top talent.

What Can You Do?

  1. When considering adding benefits, ask employees what is important to them. If you are adding Tuition Reimbursement, how could you include new grads? Perhaps a loan repayment program. What about seniors or employees with families? Consider extending tuition reimbursement to a spouse or child. Survey your employees and find out.
  2. Inclusion is key! When you have a great place for everyone to work, everyone wants to work there. So widen your perspective. If half of employees are uncomfortable with the temperature in your office, back off the air conditioning! Did you know thermostat settings are still influenced by what researchers figured an “average male” would find comfortable in the 1960s, according to Popular Science?
  3. Don’t spend money on useless office perks. Fifty percent of people surveyed said they would like access to natural lighting during the workday. If that is not possible in the individual workspaces, arrange a coworking space near the windows in your office, start walking meetings inside or outside, and place picnic tables outside for breaks.

Putting a focus on wellness should be holistic, taking into consideration physical wellness, emotional wellness, and environmental wellness. And get your employees involved. At Purple Ink, we include all employees in these conversations. We take walks as a team, especially during long meeting days. And our flexible workspace allows employees to set up shop next to the window or close the door to the interview room and have a quiet option to focus.

If you’d like to talk more about ideas to make your workspace a more positive place, reach out to Purple Ink, or to me directly, and I’d be happy to talk about more ideas.

Erin Brothers
Erin Brothers
Erin is Purple Ink’s Director of Recruiting and Consulting Services. Erin’s top strength is Achiever and she truly enjoys working hard and gains energy by accomplishing more work. Every day starts at zero, and tackling projects big and small helps give that sense of accomplishment to benefit her clients, peers, family and friends.

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