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How to motivate your workforce

5th February, 2019

Mark Wiggins



What Does Your Workforce Need to Keep Them Healthy and Happy at Work?

Work is a huge part of our everyday lives and many full-timers spend the majority of their waking hours in the workplace, so the importance of having the right environment in which to do our jobs cannot be underestimated. As an employer, being mindful of the environment you provide for your staff to work in has never been more important. Not only will the right working conditions help to improve your employee’s well-being and general health, it’ll also have knock-on effects such as increased productivity, with The Mental Health Foundation reporting a 12% increase in productivity. But what is it that your staff really need to keep them motivated and happy at work?

Office stationary suppliers Viking recently spoke to over 14,000 people in a series of different surveys, hoping to get to the root of what motivates workers, how they feel about their jobs and what employers could do improve their working environment.

Mental Health Affected by Overworking and Pressure

The days of mental health problems being swept under the carpet and left for sufferers to struggle with internally are thankfully moving into the past. However, this doesn’t mean that society is always getting it right when it comes to how we deal with mental health struggles, especially not in the workplace.

The Viking survey found that six in ten workers had negative thoughts about their job on a weekly basis, with half of employees regularly working over their contracted hours. As far as mental health is concerned, these negative thoughts and feelings can become damaging if they’re not dealt with properly and the tiring and demoralising effects of working extra hours only makes this worse, with social time sure to suffer. On top of this, 43% of respondents said that at least once a week they feel an unpleasant level of pressure to succeed at work.

But are these problems being dealt with? From the perspective of the managers asked in the research, there’s clear evidence that many workplaces just don’t have the capacity, or even willingness, to support staff with mental health issues. 65% of managers reported that they’ve been approached by staff members about mental health issues, however over two-thirds said they have received no helpful mental health training. This means that employees are putting themselves out there and asking for help, but managers are left in a difficult position, without the necessary training to provide any realistic support.

Physical Health at Work is Not Addressed Enough

Sitting at a desk for long periods of time, without much physical movement is well-known to be damaging for your health. Eight out of ten people asked said they’re worried about the impact sitting all day at work will have on their health. Despite obvious health concerns, 58% of those surveyed by Viking stated that they spend over five hours a day sat at their desk, with 20% saying they’re sat down for over seven hours.

Workers also said they feel more information about display screen equipment safety should be provided. This ties in with the fact that a third of workers do not think their employers are doing enough to help their health and 43% don’t feel informed when it comes to protecting their health at their desk.

With physical and mental health being so closely linked, it seems that many employers need to do much more to protect staff wellbeing at work, to ensure their team are happy and healthy at work.

Workers Want to be in the Office Less

Considering the perceived lack of proactive action taken by employers, Viking decided to ask workers what they feel would make the perfect working week for them. Comparing this with the statistics from the previous results gives a useful insight into how employers could take positive steps to improve their workers’ health.

One of the biggest takeaways from the research was that people would rather work longer hours but fewer days a week. Half of the people surveyed said that they’d like to work a four-day week, with the ideal working day being between the hours of 8am and 6pm. Further to this, 60% of people said that they would like to work from the comfort of their own home.

When it comes to their lunchtimes, employees like to take a full hour to refuel and refresh themselves. 52% of people spend their lunch eating and 28% reading, suggesting that the opportunity to take themselves away from the grind of work is important. The fact that two- thirds of people admit to working through their lunch break suggests that this opportunity is not always being afforded to them. Taking time away from screens, to socialise and switch off is important for both physical and mental health.

Art Could be The Answer to Happiness

We’ve looked at how much time employees want to spend in the office, but how can employers help to create the right environment in which their staff can thrive? Interestingly, 54% of people said that they think art should be in every workplace. Hanging up some pictures and making the place look good might seem like a small change, but half of those asked said that artwork in their office helps to reduce workplace stress. Further to that, 53% thought that art would help make them happier.

Looking at the things commonly getting people down at the office, the biggest annoyances were split between co-workers being regularly late and people complaining all the time, with 28% of respondents saying these were their biggest pet hates. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 24% said that eating smelly food was the most annoying office habit.

Considering four in ten people said they have thought about leaving their job due to the things that annoy them in their workplace, for employers who want to retain happy staff, trying to improve the environment in their office could make a big difference. For example, introducing a place for people to each their lunch would mean people don’t have to eat at their desk and potentially irritate other members of staff.

As people become more and more mindful of the mental and physical health issues that can be caused at work, there’s no better time for employers to take steps and improve the quality of life for their workforce. This research highlighted some of the major problems that staff have, many of which could be easy to solve and have a positive effect on the happiness of your team and their productivity.


Mark Wiggins

Mark Wiggins is a writer from Leeds, England. He has years of experience working as a people manager and now focuses his time on writing about HR issues and well-being in the workplace amongst other things. Raising awareness about mental health issues faced by employers and employees is a subject that he is very passionate about.

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