Preventing Employee Burnout Through Workplace Design
In recent years, many employers have been making efforts to better support employee wellness, both in terms of physical wellness and mental health. We’ve seen companies design offices that encourage movement, include in-office fitness rooms, and include calming colors to help reduce stress. But in the wake of the upheaval that came with the coronavirus pandemic, a big issue many companies are concerned about is employee burnout.
Burnout is a problem that goes beyond standard stress or just feeling tired. The Mayo Clinic defines job burnout as a special type of work-related stress, resulting in a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity. This can be damaging on multiple different levels, both for the employer and the employee. In addition to the toll burnout takes on the employee’s mental health, it can affect job performance by making people more prone to miscommunication and other mistakes. It also makes people feel less engaged and more likely to quit their job.
With all the buzz around The Great Resignation, burnout can inspire people to look for a new job and it’s important to find ways to address its root causes. Employee burnout can be tied to several different factors, from high workloads to a poor work-life balance. Office design may not be able to address all of the causes of job burnout, but it can be used to help with some of them.
Keep Things Flexible
A lack of control in the workplace is a very common contributing factor to employee burnout. While hybrid work has been one way for companies to help give people more control over where they work and when, flexible office spaces are another great option whether people are working in the office on a full-time or part-time basis. Flexible spaces can include a variety of areas to work in, including traditional workstations, casual lounges, collaborative spaces, and private areas designed for focus.
People generally understand what types of environments will help them do their best work and being able to choose where they work each day, or having the ability to move between different spaces throughout the day as needed, can go a long way in helping people feel a stronger sense of ownership over their work.
Noise levels are just one reason why people like being able to control the spaces they work in. For some people, a little bit of background noise is no big deal, but it can be a major distraction for others. Sometimes, a task simply requires extra focus which can be difficult to do when colleagues are discussing projects or making phone calls. It’s estimated that, on average, it takes about 25 minutes for a person to refocus after an interruption, which can really add up during the day and make people feel like they aren’t being as productive as they could be. Installing acoustic control solutions around the office and creating enclosed, private spaces for those who need to concentrate are both excellent ways to address this problem.
Taking some time to socialize with coworkers isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Having social connections at work can be extremely valuable for building strong teams within the company and for helping people feel happier and more engaged at work. Feeling socially isolated can be a major factor that leads to burnout, so it’s important to have spaces around the office that naturally encourage people to take some time to connect. Whether it’s a break room, lounge area, or something fun like a game room, the connections people make in these spaces can help foster a sense of belonging that benefits everybody in the long run.
When work gets chaotic and stressful, having to work in uncomfortable environments can make life more difficult. Things like uncomfortable workstations, low lighting, and few opportunities to move around and change postures during the day can all make people less satisfied with their jobs, make it more difficult to be productive, and can even lead to health problems. Maximizing natural lighting, providing enough artificial light, and giving people ergonomic desk chairs and other tools to adjust a workstation to a person’s needs are all great ways to help people feel happier and more engaged at work.
Is it time to upgrade your office space? Let Premier Construction & Design help. We have significant experience working with businesses in the Metro Detroit area to create spaces that support the needs of their employees. Check out our portfolio to see examples of projects we’ve worked on and when you’re ready to get started, contact us so that we can learn more about your project.