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Workplace well-being: returning to work

The pandemic has undoubtedly shifted how we live in so many ways. One of the biggest changes is the transition to working from home. As we begin to consider the possibility of returning to workplaces and what that will look like in the future, many business leaders are questioning how employees feel about that prospect especially in relation to their health and hygiene. 

By surveying 3,000 employed adults across the US and Canada, we were able to discover how the mindset of the North American workforce, and the value it places on certain aspects of the workplace, have been altered since the onset of the pandemic. The survey asked those working in a range of environments, including factory and warehouse floors, hospitals, restaurants, schools, and general offices about their most important features of future workplaces.

Employees value better health and hygiene practices over salary

When asked if employees would consider taking a pay cut if the lower-paid job included better air quality, greater hygiene levels and more ‘hygiene-aware’ colleagues, two-thirds (60%) said yes.

Productivity focus stats

This does, however, differ between age groups with older workers much less interested in better conditions. Just 31% of those aged 55+ were willing to take a pay cut vs 60% of 18-24-year-olds and 66% of 25-34-year-olds. If you have an older workforce, this could indicate that more emphasis needs to be placed on the importance of health and hygiene practices.

A change in mindset was also found for those who are searching for a different role, with the majority (80%) saying they are far more likely to ask employers about their health and hygiene policies before considering and accepting a new job. 

The pandemic has caused many people to put their life into perspective. This has caused workers to put their own personal well-being over their salary and highlighted the need for businesses to take their employee’s health, wellness and safety more seriously. 

Asking employers about health and hygiene policies

Breaking it down – the most important hygiene factors for employees

After separating the various features of a workplace relating to improved hygiene and health, we asked the respondents to choose which one was most important to them now. Clean, pure and healthy air came out on top at 62% followed by efficient air circulation (54%), natural lighting (50%) and hand and surface hygiene stations (50%).

Poor air quality causing anxiety

The number of employees choosing these options over features like flexible working arrangements will prompt many businesses to find solutions that improve air, lighting and hygiene conditions in workspaces. One such solution is Hygiene360, which provides a layered approach of air, hand and surface hygiene solutions to protect the employees, and help ensure they feel confident in the safety procedures.

As it stands, most workers (70%) are sure that their business leaders can create a safer space for them. The onus isn’t solely on that of the company to install and retain hygienic working conditions. The majority of workplaces will have multiple employees interacting with each other and using the same equipment, so it is up to the entire workforce to adopt good hygiene habits to keep everyone safe. Despite this potential additional risk, most workers (63%) feel that their colleagues will make more of an effort with their hygiene habits as a result of the pandemic.

Considering mental health

Of course, the pandemic has not only made us more aware of our physical health but our mental health as well. While making sure that everyone is being as safe as possible, it’s also important for businesses to keep their workers’ minds at ease when the time comes to return to work. 

The prospect of going back can make a lot of people feel nervous and stressed. We found that the biggest causes of stress and anxiety were stale and stuffy conditions (47%), poorly lit workspaces (43%) and unpleasant odors (42%). These were followed by poor hand hygiene (33%) and a lack of personal possessions (27%).

mental health

Based on these percentages, business leaders should work to avoid these conditions to help their workers feel more comfortable in their surroundings and quell any anxious feelings. This could be achieved by providing good air ventilation, installing additional lighting and adding plants, which help to improve air quality. Services like Hygiene360 are making it easier for businesses to install all of these measures in a way that works best for their employees.

Plants can also be used for multiple purposes, such as to mark safe social distances. Most workers were in favor of this technique, with 55% saying it would improve mental health and well-being in the workplace and 65% saying it would create a better working environment in general. 

Creating a workplace where people can see, feel, and smell the focus on cleanliness can not only calm nerves,and amplify your efforts to keep employees healthy and protected. Smell is our most powerful sense and can provide an instant reaction to a space. Using scent technology is a great way to reinforce hygiene practices and elevate mood by up to as much as 40%.

A cleaner, healthier future

The findings are clear: workers place hygiene, health and wellness practices in much higher regard than before the pandemic, and businesses everywhere should do their part to support them with simple yet effective measures. 

Not only will our workspaces be cleaner and safer, but employees will be filled with a greater sense of assurance that their comprehensive well-being is prioritized as they return. 

To find out more about our all-round service for your business, visit Hygiene360.

Further information and next steps

Enforce social distancing guidelines in your space with plants, modular partitions and green wall dividers.

Contact the experts at Ambius for any inquiries or to request a free quote.

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