Wellness: Workers face love/hate relationship with office; productivity high, but burnout remains

Friday, June 10, 2016

This article originally appeared on HR.BLR.com. To view the original article, please click here

Seventy percent of U.S. office workers and managers report working more than 40 hours a week, and the majority consider the office the most productive place to get work done. But employers need to take action to ensure it remains an inspiring, motivating environment. This, according to the second annual Workplace Index conducted by Staples Business Advantage, the business-to-business division of Staples, Inc.

According to the survey, most employees say they’re working longer hours simply to catch up on work they couldn’t tackle during an 8-hour day. That workload is taking a toll. Consider:

  • 64% of respondents say their workplace has contributed to stress
  • 46% acknowledge that burnout is a motivating factor in looking for a new job
  • 13% have even taken a workplace stress-related leave of absence

“The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index provides an important look at the state of the workplace and what employees want and need from their employers,” said Neil Ringel, executive vice president, Staples Business Advantage, North America. “Based on the results, it is evident that employees thrive in a workplace that is sensitive to their needs and well-being. An office outfitted with thoughtful workplace solutions boosts employee productivity and happiness and directly impact the bottom line.”

The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index is a comprehensive study involving office workers and business decision makers in the United States to help companies meet their recruitment, retention, and engagement goals. This year’s study was created in conjunction with Jacob Morgan, best-selling author of The Future of Work, Futurist, and Cofounder of the Future of Work Community, a brand council of the world’s most forward thinking organizations who come together to explore the future of work.

“This study shows that there is a tremendous opportunity for organizations to focus on and design employee experiences where employees truly want to show up,” said Morgan. “Offering employees health and wellness programs, well-designed office environments, and up-to-date modern technologies are all a part of that employee experience. This is crucial to be able to attract and retain top talent.”

Despite an increasing number of employees opting for telecommuting and on-demand workspaces, 66% of employees consider the office as the most productive place to get work done. Thirty-six percent say it’s the most inspiring place to work as well, more than any other location.

For workers who remain in the office, 49% of respondents feel they cannot get up for a break, while 53% eat lunch at their desk. What's even more surprising is that 2% of respondents say they don’t have time to eat lunch at all! As workers spend more time in the office, the onus falls on employers to keep their employees healthy, productive, and inspired.

Offer wellness programs and well-stocked breakrooms

Sixty-two percent of respondents say the availability of a wellness program is a selling point when looking for a new job, but 58% say their workplace doesn’t offer one. In a wellness program, employees report they’re looking for fresh foods, onsite gyms, and other perks that help improve health and fitness.

Additionally, employees want their kitchen, lounge, café, or breakroom to be well-stocked. The survey found successful breakrooms continue to lead to happier and more productive employees, as well as a more social environment and less stress. Respondents also suggested other steps employers can take to minimize burnout and increase wellness, which include:

  • Provide a more flexible schedule (65%)
  • Decrease work load or provide more time to complete tasks (57%)
  • Encourage employees to take breaks (54%)
  • Improve technology (36%)

Break down productivity barriers so workers can get more done during the workday

Three out of four respondents say their employers do not give them access to the latest technology to help them do their job more efficiently. Workplace distractions also impact productivity, with top responses being loud coworkers, people coming to talk, and e-mail overload.

Design with purpose to ensure employees are in an environment that works for them

There’s still work to be done when it comes to office design, as the majority of survey respondents describe their office as standard, plain, and dull—even if they are in an open or hybrid environment. Respondents are looking for natural light, private spaces, standing desks, lounge areas, and ergonomic and flexible furniture for multiple uses.

Methodology

The Staples Business Advantage Workplace Index was conducted online among 1,995 employees in the U.S. (936 were classified as general officer workers and 1,059 as business decision makers) by Morar Consulting in March 2016. For more information, please visit: staplesadvantage.com/sites/workplace-index.