In recent years, employee health and office comfort have become paramount to fostering a positive work environment that drives employee retention and attracts potential customers. The concept of wellness in the workplace is multifold, bleeding into every aspect of what it means to work in an office. Health, wellness, and a positive mindset are all affected by things as complex as your relationships with colleagues and the organizational structure of your company, but also by simple, mindful amenities, such as meditation spaces, healthy snacks, and, most importantly, (not that we're biased) quality lighting.
A recent study conducted by HR advisory and research firm Future Workplace Wellness and tech company View, found that after air quality, lighting was the most important office feature to employees, with one-third of respondents stating that comfortable lighting is critical for their health and wellbeing.
Lighting can often be overlooked as an area to incorporate wellness into a workplace, but it has way more to do with your health than you might expect. So what is it about lighting that is so crucial for creating a productive work environment? Well for one, poor lighting isn’t just uncomfortable, it’s unhealthy. Office lighting that is too dark or too bright can have a number of negative health effects, both mental and physical, including eye strain, fatigue, stress, and anxiety. Any of these effects make it difficult for employees to stay focused and contribute to employee burnout. Aging bulbs and ballasts also often produce a light "flicker," one that the fluorescent is famous for, and one that creates a headache for those using the space, and the office managers or facilities staff trying to fix it.
A study by Staples found that 68% of those surveyed would feel more valued by their employers if they considered their health and well-being and invested in suitable lighting. There's nothing less efficient than a high rate of employee turnover, well, besides traditional light sources like incandescent and fluorescent bulbs—which brings me to my next point...
The environment matters to employees, and how much, or how little, a company incorporates sustainable practices into its business matters as well. In the past few years this has shown itself to be true with various mega-corporations setting big targets for things like net-zero carbon emissions and 100% sustainable packaging, but this August, execs from companies like Apple, American Airlines, AT&T, Bank of America, and BlackRock took things a step further and redefined what a corporation does—and who they serve. According to the New York Times, the statement "pledged to compensate employees fairly and provide 'important benefits,' as well as training and education. It also promised to 'protect the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses..."
For most of these companies, part of embracing sustainable practices will mean retrofitting and renovating their existing buildings with LEDs, and this will go hand in hand with providing employees with comfortable, human-centric work environments.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people spend about 90% of their time inside, leaving little time for exposure to natural light. When artificial light is practically your only light source on any given workday, it's important to choose that light carefully. Being cooped up inside disrupts circadian rhythm: your body’s internal clock that tells you when to sleep and when to wake. Nowadays, we mostly depend on artificial light to regulate our circadian rhythm—but not all artificial light is created equal. Unlike any other type of bulb, LEDs are color-tunable, dimmable, and can be designed to sync to circadian rhythm, making them the healthiest office lighting option, and the only one designed with wellness in mind.
Another study on employee health shows that work environments that operated with circadian lighting in place had a 12% increase in task performance and a majority of employees reported that they felt happier, more energized, and healthier than they did in spaces with traditional lighting.
We may not have solved the workplace thermostat wars just yet, but one thing we know for sure is employees want personal control over their space. Dimmable LEDs and control systems give them this option. LEDs allow you to customize your lighting to emit melatonin-suppressing blue light during the day, and melatonin-inducing warm light as the day goes on. LED lamps are also highly compatible with daylight sensors, which turn off or adjust light levels according to how much sunlight is coming into the space. This makes it possible for occupants to enjoy the sunlight when it is shining, but ensures their workspace is accurately lit when it isn't—and they don't need to make any of these adjustments themselves; they just happen naturally.
Your lighting has a major impact on the mood of your workplace. More often than not, you might not remember what a space looked like, but you'll remember how it felt. This is because lighting evokes feeling more than almost any other design choice.
Imagine a room with a fireplace burning and candles lit throughout. How does that make you feel?
Now, think about a sports arena at game time. Which would you rather work in?
It's usually somewhere in between the two. And LEDs will get you there.
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Contact one of our LED experts to find out how lighting can improve wellness for employees in your space.