What is a Healthy Workplace—
and What’s the Real Value Behind It?

by Dara Holland

Everyone loves being where they feel appreciated. If there were a way to bottle positive energy on the job—a program that encourages employees to react to their environment with “I love this place!”—wouldn’t it follow that they’d show up regularly and deliver their best work?

As companies realize that “corporate wellness” has more to do with culture than employees’ physical health, wellness programs are taking on a new form.

Going Back to the Well

The idea of corporate wellness, which fast became a major industry after the launch of the Affordable Care Act, is metamorphosing. Once focused primarily on making healthier bodies and measuring benefits with ROI to employers—reduced employee absenteeism, medical costs and turnover—corporate wellness programs are becoming more about workers and their overall well-being. Now, creating a healthy workplace implies taking a more comprehensive mind, body, and soul approach—and getting results that can be far more subjective and harder to evaluate.

Or are they?

Corporate Wellness as “I Love My Job”

What’s really shaping up here (pun intended) is “corporate wellness” as employee job satisfaction or fulfillment. Posed this way, a key indicator of wellness becomes whether employees label your company as a great place to work. Studies show that companies where job satisfaction ranks high have less turnover and absenteeism and more productivity. Employees have a positive attitude and take pride in the company they work for, which prompts them to give more (time, presence and commitment), work better together and achieve better results. It’s increased productivity through caring: a “feel good” vintage that benefits everyone.

KBS has built its reputation on creating great work environments that help tenants be more successful. Unsurprisingly, this ability begins with a culture at KBS that nurtures creativity and innovation. Having as healthy—i.e., “happy”—a workplace as possible fuels everything that makes such nurturing possible.

How to “Build” Health

How do we define a healthy workplace? It’s a question with a complex answer. As already mentioned, “healthy” can refer to the physical: things that support the health of the body, such as diet and exercise, quality of air, water and light, or comfort brought on by temperature, furnishings and workplace design.

It can also refer to the psychological. Do workers feel supported and empowered to do their jobs? Is there camaraderie, trust, appreciation for work well done—and even the sense of working for a company that gives back?

For millennials specifically, research shows working for a company that gives back—thereby bringing greater meaning to the job itself—improves workplace wellness. A recent survey analysis done by Great Place to Work found that millennials who felt their company had a positive world impact were four times more likely to say their teams go beyond the call of duty, 11 times more likely to say they planned to remain with their employer long term and, perhaps most importantly, 14 times more likely to say they looked forward to going to work. The study also confirmed company giving creates a more fully human experience that has a positive impact across all generations.

Clearly, corporate well-being can be tapped from numerous sources.

KBS Vice President and Asset Manager Clint Copulos, who heads up the company’s Total Wellness Program, says plans to round out wellness offerings are in the works. “We want to ensure we’re providing tools for mind makeovers as well as body makeovers,” he shares. While the program will continue with physical wellness components like its diet newsletter, fitness challenges and gym membership discounts, more mind-centered tools are on the way. Says Copulos, “We’re looking to implement ideas that will evolve the program: things like anti-stress techniques and mood-managing apps. We also want to grow awareness around lifestyle changes, like encouraging people to unplug from electronics before going to bed. Money management training, especially for younger employees paying off student loans, is another area we’re considering to help people achieve balance in their lives.”

The Payoff

The overall health of a workplace may be hard to quantify, as is its total impact on the bottom line. But the benefits of promoting general well-being are palpable. Expanding KBS’s Total Wellness Program with more “mind-focused” tools shows the company’s commitment to providing a healthy workplace that nurtures employees and everything KBS stands for as a company. At KBS, the corporate wellness goal is not only to bottle “I love this place!” but to improve the vintage every day.