Wellbeing in the workplace: 3 trends predicted for 2019

Now that you’ve rung in the new year, you might be thinking of your resolutions for the next 12 months. A popular promise that many people make is to improve their health and wellbeing.

The truth is, this resolution can be extended to the workplace too. So, if you’re looking for ways in which you can put an emphasis on the happiness and wellbeing of your employees, take a look at these three trends that are predicted to be popular throughout 2019.

  1. Four-day working weeks

For the majority of office-based employees, working a five-day week is the norm - but could this soon change? It’s rumoured that an all-new four-day week is set to catch on this year, giving employees an extra day off.

In September 2018, the Trades Union Congress called for this change, stating that there are currently 1.4 million people in the UK who now work a full seven-day week. It’s thought that by working one day less, staff will be given the chance to fully relax and recharge, which in turn could help improve productivity during office hours.

Last year, New Zealand-based company Perpetual Guardian trialed a four-day working week. With almost 250 members of staff taking part, the trust management and estate planning company tested the shorter week from March to April, with all employees working four eight-hour days but getting paid for five.

Founder of Perpetual Guardian, Andrew Barnes, initially undertook the trial after seeing how much pressure some of his staff members were under when it came to finding a balance between their personal and professional lives. Barnes wondered if the extra day off would help his employees manage their home lives, making them more productive and focused when they were in the office.

In data collected before the trial, it was revealed that over half of employees (54 per cent) felt they could balance their work and home commitments working five days a week. However, once the trial had ended, this jumped to 78 per cent, suggesting that working a shorter week helped staff to better manage their home and work lives - and proving Barnes right.

The data also showed a reduction in staff stress levels, while commitment, stimulation and a sense of empowerment at work significantly improved. Across the board, overall life satisfaction increased by five per cent.

 

  1. Email access bans outside office hours

Do you check your inbox even after you’ve logged off for the day? Thanks to modern technology, it can be extremely easy to access your work emails once you have left the office, whether it’s from your personal laptop, tablet or smartphone device.

If this sounds familiar to you, you’re not the only one. In a study of 2,000 people carried out by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, 40 per cent said they checked their emails outside of working hours at least five times a day. As dedicated as this might seem, it could actually be a cause for concern.

By checking your emails, it could be argued that you’re still working, and it’s no surprise that working long hours isn’t ideal, especially when it comes to your wellbeing. In fact, working for longer than you’re required can lead to serious health issues such as depression, anxiety and exhaustion, as well as increased stress levels. As a result, your performance and productivity when you’re at the office could be affected.

Last year, German supermarket company Lidl announced that staff at their headquarters in Neckarsulm would not be able to access their emails between the hours of 6pm and 7am. This change was made in an attempt to decrease the amount of stress among their employees after some members of staff said that they felt a responsibility to be contactable around the clock. So, with Lidl paving the way, could email access bans outside of working hours be the way forward in 2019?

  1. Sit to stand desks

If you have an office-based job, it’s likely that you spend the majority of your day sitting down at your office desk. The bad news is, this can be detrimental to your wellbeing, leading to health problems such as back ache, poor posture and neck and shoulder pain. This sedentary behaviour can also lead to problems such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity, as well as mental health issues such as depression.

Since your job may require you to sit down in front of a computer, you may think there is little you can do to change up your work setup so that you’re more active. The good news is, it’s predicted that height adjustable sit to stand desks are the way forward, with more and more offices introducing this style of surface in 2019.

Sit to stand desks can be effective in reducing the amount of time employees sit down. What’s more, these desks can help staff members feel less tired and more engaged in their work, as well as meaning they move around more often than if they were sitting down throughout the day. The adjustable function of these desks means staff can go from a sitting to a standing position quickly and easily, giving them the option of both.

There’s no denying that health and wellbeing in the workplace is extremely important, and as an employer, you have a responsibility to ensure your employees are safe and happy while they work. So, as we continue into 2019, which of these predicted trends will you be putting into practice? Let us know in the comments below.

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