The well-being of office workers has soared up the list of business priorities for UK employers as companies increase their post-recession drive to attract and retain high quality staff.
Bostjan Ljubic, the newly appointed head of Steelcase in the UK and Ireland, said the economic impact of employee well-being plus greater understanding of the issue is now propelling companies to develop and enhance their engagement with their workforces.
Companies are now much more enthusiastically considering well-being into the design of their workspaces.
Ljubic, who has been appointed Vice President of Sales UK and Ireland following stints with the company in Japan, Australia and Hong Kong, said: “The issue of wellbeing has developed very significantly in recent times.
“Businesses that are focusing clearly on the issue are doing so because they have identified the potential emotional, financial and competitive advantage. The mountain of research on wellbeing points very clearly to it being in a company’s interests to take the matter seriously.”
In the UK alone, £15 billion a year is lost to health-related presenteesim (where people are at work but not fully engaged) and 60% of lost work days are due to stress.
In companies where workers report high levels of stress, healthcare costs can rise by 50%. Conversely, where workers are fully engaged healthcare costs for employers drop by 41%.
“In the UK the strong economic recovery we are witnessing particularly in the south-east is enabling companies to make the strategic decisions they were inhibited from making during the recession and that includes providing the right type of environment for employees.
“However, there is evidence of increasing economic ambition in other areas of the country and we are seeing evidence of that. People are making their spaces work harder, catering for increasingly mobile workers, making them feel at home and striving to ensure they stay focused.
“At Steelcase we have been advising clients on the opportunities which can help make a difference to their bottom line and there is no question that businesses believe in wellbeing on an unprecedented scale. We are also seeing this in sectors such as education where results are being improved by creating inspiring learning environments for teachers and students.
“What we are seeing now is consideration of the whole person at work – mind, body and soul – and the physical workplace is powerful in providing an environment in which people can thrive. Our research into the way people work has yielded a great deal of evidence to show that there are steps to be taken that can reduce friction in the workplace and improve the potential of employees.”