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Whether your organization is looking to adopt more eco-conscious practices or you’re searching for ways to optimize employee well-being, paying attention to environmental wellness at work can have numerous benefits. Human beings are inextricably connected to our surroundings, meaning that our health is dependent on the state of the environment. Improve our environment, and improve human health.
Our guide to environmental wellness in the workplace explores what it means to prioritize environmental well-being at work and how doing so benefits organizations. We also offer some tips on how to improve environmental wellness in the workplace.
What Is the Environmental Wellness Dimension?
Environmental wellness is one of six dimensions of wellness that impacts employee health and well-being. It refers to the bi-directional relationship humans have with our surroundings — our impact on the environment and the environment’s impact on us.
Environmental wellness is how well we set up our surroundings so that we limit harmful activities that damage natural resources while simultaneously maximizing our environment so that it produces optimal human health and flourishing.
Humans can negatively impact the environment by over-consuming products that create waste, not conserving resources, or failing to care for nature. Likewise, the environment can have harmful effects on humans through exposure to toxic products or improper air quality and lighting conditions.
Environmental Wellness Benefits for the Workplace
Why is environmental wellness important? Having a good relationship with the environment we spend time in allows us to live a healthier and happier life. At work, that means being surrounded by elements that are conducive to productivity, engagement, and enjoyment of work, including factors that influence creativity and innovation.
Here are some of the top benefits of environmental wellness in the workplace:
- Reduce expenses — Save on office supplies and energy expenditures and reduce the costs of absenteeism, presenteeism, turnover, and other employee engagement metrics
- Increase productivity — Foster an environment that encourages employees to do their best work, such as meeting certain objectives or delivering better customer satisfaction
- Boost engagement — Increase how enthusiastic and committed employees feel in their work, resulting in higher employee retention
Environmental wellness can directly impact an employee’s sense of personal health and well-being too. Healthy working environments can promote improved physical activity, ergonomics, stress management, and creative inspiration.
Tips to Improve Environmental Wellness at Work
With so many environmental wellness benefits for the workplace, improving your office surroundings and practices can pay off. Try the following environmental wellness tips to increase workplace well-being.
Conduct an Environmental Wellness Assessment
To improve something, you need to be able to first measure where you’re at. By performing a workplace wellness assessment, you can determine your current level of workplace wellness in each key dimension, including environmental wellness.
When assessing your current level of workplace environmental wellness, look at the following areas:
- Comfort: How comfortable is the working environment? Assess your current levels of indoor air quality, light and noise pollution, and office ergonomics.
- Conservation: How dedicated is the workplace to conservation? Consider what current practices you have that conserve resources, including energy and water.
- Consumption: How much waste is generated in the workplace? Look at waste-heavy sources like office supplies, paper, food scraps, or redundant purchases.
- Connection: How well does the work environment incorporate natural elements? Plants, outdoor spaces, natural light, and water features allow workplaces to harness the power of nature for better health and well-being.
Implement Environmental Wellness Activities
After assessing your current level of workplace environmental wellness, consider the areas in which you can improve and how. Below are some environmental wellness activity ideas to implement at work:
- Workplace recycling program: Ensure that your office has sufficient recycling facilities, including separate receptacles for landfill waste, recyclables, and organic waste. Ensure that bins are properly labeled to reduce friction and make it easy and enjoyable to recycle.
- Contests and challenges: Introduce zero-waste workplace wellness challenges to emphasize environmental well-being. Run 30-day challenges to reduce or eliminate plastic consumption, food waste, and other common types of waste.
- Environmental wellness allowance: Provide a bonus or expense allowance for employees to choose how to improve the workplace environment. This helps foster a sense of ownership over the work environment and boosts social well-being in the workplace.
- Team volunteering: Organize a workplace volunteer effort that’s environmentally conscious. Join an existing volunteer network or create your own. Examples include beach or park garbage clean-up or tree planting. If your workplace has the space, consider planting a community garden.
Provide Resources for Environmental Wellness at Home
With so many people working remotely or following the hybrid work model, it’s important to empower employees to take workplace wellness into their homes. Whether your employees work remotely or you simply want to encourage healthier habits at home, there are several environmental wellness tips that employees can practice outside of the office.
Some environmental wellness examples that employees can implement at home include:
- Position desks or workstations as close to a natural light source as possible
- Ensure adequate ventilation and fresh air throughout the workspace
- Switch to non-toxic cleaning products to reduce harsh smells and reduce sensitivities
- Encourage workers to grow indoor plants or have natural elements near their desks
- Swap out incandescent bulbs for energy-efficient LEDs
- Declutter workstations by donating or repurposing unused items
- Reduce and manage household allergens with proper home cleaning practices
Achieving Environmental Health and Wellness in the Workplace
Our surrounding environment can influence the way we think, feel, and work. By promoting better environmental wellness in the workplace, organizations can become more attuned to employee needs. Employees who adopt an environmentally healthy lifestyle may benefit from more creativity, deeper engagement in their work, and improved overall satisfaction.
Employee wellness programs, like Wellics, can help organizations address the core pillars of employee well-being, including how to optimize the environment for better performance and overall wellness. With the Wellics employee wellness platform, your organization can set custom environmental wellness goals and monitor the results, helping to prove the ROI of your wellness program. Learn how to use the Wellics employee wellness platform to create a healthy and thriving work environment for all.
Originally published August 2, 2022 - 7:58 AM, updated November 21, 2023