6 Ways Where Facilities Management Can Improve Mental Health in the Workplace
The Crucial Role Facilities Management Plays in the Mental Wellbeing of Employees
In today’s fast-paced world, agility has become a part of everything that is done. Every corporate function is expected to be in an accelerated manner. Our lives at and outside of work are full of activities and stresses. It is important more than ever to find a footing amidst all the chaos and achieve emotional wellbeing. Workplaces are especially required to undergo certain changes so that employee mental health is taken care of in a holistic manner. Facility Management (FM) is an area that can directly and indirectly help in improving mental wellbeing at workplace. It is a well-known fact that facilities management has now moved beyond its conventional duties pertaining to building operations and maintenance. In fact, today FM is an intricate sector with multiple streams that are interconnected and tied to the larger goal of organizational and employee well-being.
Before we understand the role of FM in mental health at the workplace, it is crucial to know the entire picture. In today’s world, while mental health awareness has definitely increased, we still have a long way to go. According to a recent HSE report, in the years 2020-21 stress, depression or anxiety accounted for 50% of all work-related ill health cases in Great Britain (https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/causdis/stress.pdf). It has been observed that stressful work environments often lead to hypertension, heart diseases, memory loss, and feeling of despair in employees. If this picture has to change, then a comprehensive approach needs to be taken that will bring positive changes in the workplace, the premises, working style and other factors. This is where a facility management consultant can assist in recommending improvements in the workplace. After all, facility management is defined within ISO 41011: 2017 as “an organizational function which integrates people, place and process within the built environment, with the purpose of improving the quality of life of people and the productivity of the core business”. Thus, FM is truly responsible for people’s welfare within a facility or the working environment.
How can Facility Management Enhance Employee Wellbeing and Increase Productivity?
The Facility Manager must take into consideration the as-is scenario of the organization so that they can know the starting point to make necessary changes. It is also a good practice to engage with a reputable and experienced FM consultant to guide the organization to make the necessary changes in the building and the workplace as well as processes to create a positive work environment.
Here are 5 ways with which mental wellbeing can be promoted at workplace via FM:
- Creating office spaces that are open, well-lit, and conducive: Facility management mainly deals with the building operations and maintenance. However, today’s FM can also create office spaces that are open and with enough natural light (wherever possible) in order to ensure a feel-good environment for employees. It has been observed that employees prefer open plans with closeness to nature, easily accessible recreational activities and flexible seating arrangements as opposed to cubicle structures. Special efforts can be taken to elevate the workplace by planting indoor plants in the corridors, making ‘quick rest’ areas available, and ensuring bright lighting.
- Making mental health aid easily accessible: While HR is involved in promoting mental wellbeing in the organization primarily, the FM department can take it further by ensuring mental health aid is easily available and accessible to the employees. This could be in the form of chat or call option to mental health professionals or sensitizing the staff in the area of emotional wellbeing via various professional courses. The avenues to educate are aplenty and FM can leverage them for better mental health aid accessibility at workplace.
- Ensure Regular Feedback Cycle: Employees often get demotivated when they do not feel heard. It could be their suggestions or their doubts about role clarity or some other grievances. Facilities solutions can take a step in this direction and ensure a regular feedback mechanism for the employees that will give the leaders an idea of the areas of improvements. This will keep employees feel motivated and positive. Emotional wellbeing requires a holistic approach towards communication between leaders and employees and FM can act as the bridge to facilitate this two-way communication.
- Provision of Healthy Food: There is a positive relation between healthy food and mental wellbeing. According to Dr. Gabriela Cora, a board-certified psychiatrist in the US, “When you stick to a diet of healthy food, you’re setting yourself up for fewer mood fluctuations, an overall happier outlook and an improved ability to focus.” However, lack of time often forces working professionals to eat outside and the choices available are often not healthy. This can be changed by facility managers by ensuring that catering facilities provide healthy food options available for employees. Similarly, special care can be taken to ensure hydration by installing water coolers at various points in the office premises.
- Ensuring the right Environmental Conditions: It is a well-known fact that we operate more effectively, given the right environmental conditions to work within. This will include light, ventilation and air-conditioning. FM is responsible for ensuring that the environmental conditions are maintained according to the correct design criteria and are conducive to optimum productivity. Furthermore, FM will be responsible for ensuring the safety of employees and occupants within the building. This is particularly true of air conditioning and water hygiene which if left unmaintained can lead to serious issues such as Legionnaires Disease.
- Facilitating Hybrid Working: The Covid-19 pandemic showed the world that working from home is not only possible, but a lot more instrumental in enhancing productivity and mental wellbeing. When employees are encouraged to stay in close proximity of their families, it not only motivates them to give their best at work, it also saves the time of commute. Today, many companies are opting for a complete work from home or hybrid working model and facility management can step in here to facilitate this change. Concepts like hot desking, availability of laptops and other work-related gadgets for the employees at home and smooth connection for remote work can guarantee successful hybrid working.
Today, more than ever, employers need to focus on mental health of their employees as any type of negligence is detrimental to the employees, their family and overall productivity too. FM can propose and ensure innovative ways to promote emotional wellbeing at the workplace.
To know more about how facility management can ensure that your employees are incentivised and invigorated to deliver optimum productivity in the workplace, visit Evbex at https://www.evbex.com/.
Evbex is currently working on the next evolutionary phase of FM in the workplace. The NetZero3 Sustainable Facility Management Performance based FM contract provides a sustainable FM contract that guides an organisation towards NetZero in a sustainable way and where wellbeing in the workplace is an essential ingredient within the process.
Author: Richard Davies, MD of Evbex