Including Air Quality in your Corporate Wellness Program

When it comes to your corporate wellness program, consider the impact indoor air quality has on the health, wellness, and productivity of employees.

Healthy employees are an important aspect of a successful business. When people are healthy, they are generally happier and more motivated to do well in their workplace endeavors. In an effort to increase employee engagement, wellness, and career satisfaction, corporate wellness programs have become the norm at companies across the nation. According to a survey conducted by AFLAC, employees that took part in a wellness program achieved greater success at their jobs, were happier overall, and more satisfied with their career. Establishing a wellness program has reciprocal benefits for both employer and employee.

In an article published by Forbes, some of the obvious benefits included employee happiness, enhanced productivity, a stronger sense of community among employees, and cost savings for the company.

While corporate wellness programs vary, many include standard incentives for being a non-smoker, extra lunchtime for getting exercise, and healthy snack options in the office. Some offer cancer screenings on-site, have weekly personal training sessions, and activity tracking competitions.

An area that might not seem obvious to encourage improvement in is air quality, but it can have significant wellness benefits for both employee and employer. Office buildings are notorious for having poor indoor air quality, particularly due to construction standards that originate from around the mid-1950’s building boom. To increase energy efficiency, office buildings were developed to be more airtight, which meant less ventilation, leaving indoor environments to build up with air pollutants. This inevitably led to “Sick Building Syndrome,” a common condition experienced by office workers across the nation where employees report feeling ill while in the building, but notice their symptoms dissipate as soon as they exit.

Feeling ill while at the office due to “Sick Building Syndrome” is a major disadvantage to employees and employers. Studies have observed the correlation between air quality and job performance and found that air quality greatly impacts a person’s ability to concentrate and be productive.

Office workers spend roughly 40 hours (if not more) a week in the same office environment. Exposure to this poor air quality becomes a burden on the employee’s health, wellness, work performance and in turn affects the company’s goals and success. It should be in the company’s best interests to include improving air quality in the corporate wellness program.

How to Incorporate Air Quality Into A Corporate Wellness Program

Employees discussing corporate wellness program

In general, improving indoor air quality can be an overwhelming task that involves HVAC maintenance and building remodeling. While this cannot easily be incorporated into a wellness program, there are simple ways to improve the air employees breathe that do not involve building redesign.

If airflow and lack of ventilation is an issue, make it a point to encourage employees to get outside and out of the office either daily or a few times a week. This could include team lunches off-site, lunch break walks either outdoors or around other parts of the building. These are not necessarily ways to improve the building’s air quality itself but are ways to break up the day and the exposure to dry office air and pollutant-laden air. An added benefit, these ideas encourage exercise and team bonding.

Initiate a clean air campaign that benefits both environmental pollution and office air quality. Encourage employees to take public transit if they can, reducing their contribution to exhaust pollution. This could come in the form of a transit discount or a transportation allowance offered per month. Advocate for employees who smoke to quit, improving their health and the health of coworkers who might breathe in the smoke residue on clothing, also known as third-hand smoke.

Provide plants that are natural air purifiers and make it a team project to care for the plant. Plants like the NASA-approved spider plant, rubber plant, or peace lily are great options. If you can build a friendly competition into this, it could increase employee engagement among teams.

Venta humidifiers are the best choice for offices because they do not over-humidify. Even typically warm and humid climates can benefit from an Airwasher in the office, as dry, stale air from air conditioning systems can be a significant cause of workplace fatigue and illness.

Dry indoor environments that suffer from a lack of ventilation create a breeding ground for illnesses to thrive. Forbes reported that the U.S. workforce illness costs hundreds of billions of dollars annually. With a Venta in the office, employees will experience more humidified indoor air and fewer airborne pollutants. This means healthier employees which in turn means a healthier bottom line for the company.  If a few appliances could help chip away that figure, it is worth including air quality maintenance in a company’s corporate wellness program.