Employee Well-Being Starts with Clean Air
Corporate wellness initiatives and programs for employees have steadily gained widespread acceptance, evolving into a nearly ubiquitous feature among larger corporations. According to Zippia, 83% of companies with 200 or more employees offer wellness programs and benefits such as free gym memberships, rewards, incentives and more.
However, any corporate wellness strategy that doesn’t include IAQ management is missing the most fundamental impact on employee health, well-being and productivity – the air they breathe while working, given that Americans spend 90% of their lives indoors (source: EPA), with a sizable chunk of their waking hours spent at work.
As the new year approaches, and businesses think more about employee wellness at the same time employees are thinking about their own health goals for the year ahead, incorporating IAQ management into a holistic strategy for improved employee health will lead to the best results for everyone.
Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critical part of workplace well-being that affects the physical health and performance of employees but is unfortunately not nearly addressed enough in corporate wellness programs.
Since COVID-19, workers more deeply understand the connection between workplace IAQ and their health, and leading organizations have updated their guidance to equip employers with the knowledge they need to protect their employees. The CDC and trade association ASHRAE are aligned in recommending a combination of clean air delivery rate and filtration levels equivalent to five air changes per hour (eACH) and higher depending upon the space. Air purification with HEPA filters can effectively “plus up” an HVAC system that uses MERV-13 filters to achieve or surpass the minimum standard of five eACH.
Fellowes conducted a survey earlier this year that indicated respondents now have high expectations of their workplace IAQ, as 91% said clean indoor air should be a fundamental right for all workers, and 79% placed importance on an employer’s responsibility to transparently share information about workplace IAQ with employees.
A greater focus on well-being, like improving air quality in the workplace, can have significant benefits to employees as well as a company’s bottom line. Research has shown that when organizations support the well-being of their people, they can experience lower turnover and burnout, as well as greater employee engagement. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, cleaner indoor air is linked to increased cognition and productivity.
Employees Care More About Clean Air Than Other Workplace Wellness Benefits
In that same study, Fellowes released data that found U.S. and Canadian workers place higher value on a clean indoor workspace – including improved air quality – than on many other perks that employers commonly invest in, including some directly related to employee wellness.
Respondents ranked the following options in order of importance:
- Clean indoor workspace, including clean air
- Health allowances and/or stipends for gym memberships and exercise equipment
- Free coffee/snacks
- Free fitness club/gym membership
- Social gathering areas, including pool tables, foosball, etc.
- Happy hours/social events
Clean Air Needs to Be in The Conversation Moving Forward
Recently, 60 Minutes did a feature story on the importance of indoor air quality in commercial buildings how indoor air ventilation and filtration systems are “absolutely key” in curbing the spread of viruses, especially with the knowledge we now have post pandemic.
Now, companies operating commercial buildings are more aware of the importance of IAQ and are looking for ways to improve their HVAC systems and IAQ management strategies to create state-of-the-art air quality controls.
With the COVID-19 virus remaining an ongoing concern, coupled with the flu season underway, researchers say there needs to be a continued focus on improving the quality of the air we all breathe while indoors.
Make a Resolution to Improve IAQ in 2024
Considering the high priority employees place on air quality, and their opinions on the current state of air quality in their workplace, the time has come for employers to meet the demands for a healthier work environment through improved IAQ.
It starts with measurement. Fellowes, a trusted leader in IAQ management for the last 15 years, can work with you to assess your air quality situation, with a free IAQ assessment.
Employers should invest in air purification with HEPA filters, upgraded HVAC systems and improved ventilation to properly protect their workers from airborne viruses, bacteria, pollution, allergens and volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Air purification systems are scientifically proven to improve the air quality in a space, and they have the additional benefit of improving employee perceptions of their workplace’s IAQ by providing visual proof that their workplace is focused on well-being.
Some systems, including Fellowes’ new Array air quality management system, can also provide employees with real-time insights into the quality of their air. Fellowes’ cloud-based Community Dashboard adds another avenue for employees to gain transparency around the health of their workspace through continuous air quality detection, monitoring and trend visualization.
Learn more about how you can improve your workplace’s IAQ at www.fellowes.com.