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ENG 315 – Professional Communications
Organizations always seek to recruit, train and more so retain the best employees projecting the abilities needed towards the attainment of organizational strategies. As such, employee retention has become a challenging affair for organizations as it has been note that employees tend to move to organizations offering the most favorable work environment. This paper seeks to present a research study aimed at investigating cost effective measures that organizations can implement towards creating a favorable environment ensuring employees are happy therefore better employee retention outcomes.
In most organizations, employees are resigned to sitting behind desks for an entire workday. Research studies provide evidence that this tends to have adverse effects on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees translating to lower productivity and poor employee retention statistics. This paper proposes to investigate the effect standing desks and recession breaks have on improving the physical and mental health of employees.
Based on the chosen criteria, an active research methodology is applied to investigate the degree with which the two alternatives provide to employee towards making them more mentally focused on their job and towards better employee retention outcomes. Data will be collected from data files of former employees as well as surveys involving current employees. Data analysis of the data collected will serve to offer insights as to which of the two alternatives is the most practical and appealing to the employees. Based on the findings and analysis, recommendations will be put across as to which of the two alternatives is most effective towards making employees happy, offers beat physical and mental wellness outcomes as well as improved employee retention rates.
All companies struggle with the problem of employee retention. A number of different approaches and programs have been developed to address this single, multi-faceted concern. However, studies have continued to show that happy employees are more likely to stay at their jobs longer even when the pay is lower (Biro, 2014). In addition, happy employees have proven to be more productive while on the job and that productivity leads to higher company profits by an average of 22.2 percent in 2014 (Biro, 2014). To truly address employee retention issues, an approach should be developed that does not ask for more effort from already overworked employees and that focuses on their primary concerns. One way to do this would be to focus on increasing the level of happiness in the workplace through a greater focus on overall improved health and fitness while at the office.
While there are many things you can do to increase employee happiness on the job such as paying people well and sharing profits, there are alternatives that don’t need to cost a lot. In office places, one of the biggest concerns employees have in their day to day lives is whether they are destroying their health by spending so much time sitting behind a computer screen. The World Health Organization has identified physical inactivity as the fourth-leading cause of death around the world, specifically citing the prolonged sitting (sitting for eight to 12 hours a day) as being a huge contributing factor (Christensen, 2015). Unfortunately, in a busy office, sitting at the desk for eight or more hours each day is an important part of the job. Employees hearing about this latest health news are justifiably concerned about the implications for their own well-being. Companies that address this concern will be perceived as more interested in their employees’ health and the employees will be happier knowing they are supported in their efforts to maintain a certain level of fitness.
Overview of Alternatives
Making employees feel cared for by addressing concerns about sitting too much can be done through simple steps that are either no cost or low cost options. There are two alternatives that will possibly resolve the problems: standing desks and recess breaks.
Over the past few years, there has been a growing trend for companies to replace sitting desks with standing desks or even exercise desks. These desks are set up at an ergonomically correct height for each individual employee to stand or, in the case of exercise desks, walk slowly on a treadmill while conducting their work. There are a number of standing desks available on the market ranging in price from DIY out of whatever can be found on hand at about $2500 or more for desks that incorporate a walking treadmill or other form of mechanized exercise aid.
Taking 10-20 minute breaks away from the desk and not sitting is another way to incorporate more movement into the business day. Combining it with the possibility of fun games and activities with co-workers also taking a break at that time can have additional benefits toward improving employee morale and building friendships in the workplace. For many, it seems counterproductive to take breaks in the middle of a busy workday, but science says otherwise. “Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets … It is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done” (Seiter, 2014).
Choosing the best alternative of the two proposed methods will be the result of active research into each option. Research will be done using employee surveys, and also using files from old employees. The older files will give us a view of statistical data of areas of loss. The research will strive to establish the best alternative to implement between the two with reference to the predetermined criteria and scientific data. The alternative that satisfies the criteria the best will be recommended. In addition, the research will attempt to collect data from other staff within the office via interview to determine overall attitudes specific to the particular workspace regarding whether either alternative has more or less employee support.
The two possible alternatives under consideration for improving employee well-being in the workplace are to invest in standing desks for all employees or to encourage more regular standing recess breaks. The more successful one will meet more of the following five criteria:
Will these methods contribute to Fitness?
The option of investing or building standing desks for all employees is designed to address concerns coming from recent scientific study regarding sitting for long hours during the day by encouraging employees to stand at their computers instead. There is plenty of evidence that sitting all day is not good for you. Research scientist Dr. John Buckley found decreased blood glucose levels, better heart rates, and more calories burned in 10 study participants after standing for only three hours each day instead of sitting (Martin, 2014). From studies like this, it is considered standing while working will help against cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes while also increasing productivity. However, there is evidence that counteracting the negative effects of sitting with standing may not be a cure-all. “Sitting is probably the worst thing you can do all day, but standing all day is not going to be good for anyone with lower-back problems or varicose veins. And if your heart’s not working efficiently, blood pooling in the feet and legs can cause swelling and discomfort” (Martin, 2014). In addition, standing all day increases overall feelings of fatigue and can cause additional problems in the feet and ankles unless a cushioned floor mat is also provided. Studies have also indicated standing has a negative effect on fine motor skills such as typing and, since the computer fixes the user’s position, can also result in wrist injuries and poor posture. Thus, any fitness gains made may be negated by other health concerns.
Even within the literature about standing desks, the recommendation . “Research shows that you don’t need to do vigorous exercise to get the benefits; just walking around is sufficient. So build in a pattern of creating greater movement variety in the workplace” (Walsh, 2011). Most recommendations, even from places that advocate the stand-up desk, recommend moving around for 10-20 minutes every hour or so throughout the workday to achieve maximum physical health benefits. Establishing a culture in which it is encouraged to take an active break between activities, recess breaksmeets this need, particularly if the company encourages this movement through the equipping of a ‘recess’ space in which active games — WII video sports, ping pong, etc. — are available. The level of benefit will be determined by the employee and his or her choices of activity. Here are some hypothetical benefits of a few new changes, they may:
Summary of major discoveries
|Contributes to Fitness||Focuses the Mind||Reduce Time Away||Employer Cares||Cost||Overall|
*Options rated on a scale of 1-5 in which 1 has least impact and 5 has greatest impact.
Findings and Analysis
While walking desks are all the fad right now, research suggests it would be a better investment to encourage greater frequency of ‘recess’ breaks. Encouraging employees to get up and move around the office for 10-20 minutes each hour or two would have greater physical health benefits, help them keep their minds focused when engaged in work-related tasks, reduce absences, improve their perceptions of employer concern by giving them greater choice in their activities and be less expensive than converting all desks in the workplace to standing desks, even if a ‘recess’ room is created.
The company should implement a new break schedule along with the standing work stations for a random group of employees for at least one month starting on next month. A follow up should be conducted within one month and include surveys from the selected group of employees along with the old.
Biro, Meghan. (Nov. 19, 2014). “Happy Employees = Hefty Profits.” Forbes. Available from http://www.forbes.com/sites/meghanbiro/2014/01/19/happy-employees-hefty-profits/
Christensen, Jen. (Jan. 21, 2015). “Sitting will kill you, even if you exercise.” CNN. Available from http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/health/sitting-will-kill-you/
Martin, Andrew. (Jun. 20, 2014). “Upright desks and treadmills at work — is standing really better for you?” Health. Available from http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jun/20/upright-desks-treadmills-at-work-is-standing-better
Seiter, Courtney. (Aug. 21, 2014). “The Science of Taking Breaks at Work: How to be More Productive by Changing the Way You Think About Downtime.” Buffer Open. Available from https://open.bufferapp.com/science-taking-breaks-at-work/
Walsh, Bryan. (Apr. 13, 2011). “The Dangers of Sitting at Work — and Standing.” Time. Available from http://healthland.time.com/2011/04/13/the-dangers-of-sitting-at-work%E2%80%94and-standing/