happiness, healthy living, office, workplace

5 Simple Changes for a Happier and Healthier Workplace

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It seems like every year offices become more and more focused on productivity and streamlining processes, and less focused on the health and happiness of employees. But not only should we care about the wellbeing of our employees because we want them to be happy, we should also remember that keeping employees happy and healthy actually improves productivity. When employees’ health and happiness rates drop, so does burnout and turnover rates. So whether you are an employee or employer, here are 5 ways you can make simple changes to make the office your happy place.

1. Increase views of vegetation and green space. Studies have shown over and over that happiness increases when we have regular scenic views or are surrounded by other greenery. Of course, the ideal scenario is to have an office with a large window overlooking a park or other vegetative view. However, most of us don’t have this as a viable option. Instead, try bringing additional plants into your workplace. If you do have a window near you, try rearranging your desk or chair so that you have better sight-lines to see outside. Being surrounded by plants and vegetation instinctively improves our mood because of biophilia, which is the term that refers to our innate connection to other living systems. Having these plants to water each day and take care of will make you feel more cheerful.

2. Foster those friendships. It shouldn’t be surprising, but having those close friendships in the workplace is incredibly important to being able to maintain the tedium of the daily grind. Often times the people we work with are more important to our happiness than the actual work itself. Employers should try to foster interaction, group bonding and acceptance amongst their employees. Remember, happy employees means a better work environment and more effective productivity.

3. Make your workplace your own. We spend so much time decorating our homes. We hang up pictures of our family and favorite memories, we decorate with our favorite decor, and we buy new furniture to make each room reflect our identity. But why do we spend so little time making our workplace feel like home? After all, we probably spend more waking hours there than in our actual houses. Try finding a new shelf for your desk, or get some cubicle wallpaper. There are tons of ways you can spruce up your workspace through personal mementos and your own design flairs. Making your workspace feel homey should be just as important as making your actual house feel like home.

4. Get moving! We all know that during the work day it is difficult not to be too sedentary. However, there are many small ways to be more active throughout the day. Treadmill desks have been shown to benefit postprandial glucose levels and cholesterol levels, and both treadmill and standing desks have been shown to improve psychological wellbeing. You can also try bringing some light weights to use as you are on phone calls, or take a quick walk around the building every hour or so to stretch your legs.

5. Work for flexibility. Research has shown that flexible workplaces result in increased feelings of empowerment as well as improved quality of life. Employers should be aware of this relationship in order to increase happiness and efficiency within their employees. Of course, employees only have limited control over how flexible their workplace is, but there are several ways you can work to increase flexibility. A flexible workplace is one in which you are allowed to complete your work in convenient ways. Be firm about not completing tasks when you are not available, such as outside of office hours. On the flip side, when you are allowed flexibility, prove that you can accomplish the task effectively even with added leniency.

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