How Standing Desks Make Employers Competitive

December 02, 2018

competitiveemployer
competitiveemployer

employer shaking hands with employee

Molly McDougall

What do standing desks in an office have to do with the job market? More than you might think. As unemployment rates drop and employers offer a wider selection of benefits than ever before, companies must explore all angles when it comes to the perks they offer and consider expanding their benefits programs if they wish to attract - and keep - top talent. Read on to discover how ergonomic solutions, as part of a comprehensive set of overall wellness benefits, play a role in recruiting and retaining superior employees.

Costs and Impacts of Employee Turnover

According to the most recent Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Human Capital Benchmarking Report, which includes data from a wide variety of industries, 2016's average overall turnover rate was 18 percent. For most companies, turnover is costly. Estimates vary on how costly, but the most conservative suggests the cost of losing an employee could range from tens of thousands of dollars up to twice the employee's annual salary. Turnover costs can include, among others, the cost of hiring (for example, advertising a position and screening a candidate), the cost of training (management time and resources), lost productivity (for the time it takes for a new employee to get up to speed), and the cost of any time the role goes unfilled.

One less obvious cost of losing a valued employee is the impact it has on remaining employees. When someone leaves a company, others might start to question whether "the grass is greener" and investigate outside opportunities for themselves. And if turnover is particularly high, it could be a sign of a deeper problem within the company with culture, management, benefits, or some combination thereof.

What Today's Employees Want

The Wall Street Journal reports that this year the unemployment rate dropped to 3.7 percent, the lowest it has been in nearly 50 years. In this tight employment market, companies must remain competitive by being aware of what job candidates and employees are looking for in an ideal work environment. Both existing and prospective employees, if they're savvy, compare the benefits their current or potential future workplaces offer. Current research shows that two of the top factors influencing worker satisfaction are:

  • Permanent implementation of flexible work arrangements. Flexible work arrangements continue to grow in popularity, from part-time telecommuting to completely remote positions. Employees also value the ability to have more control over when and how much they work through flexible schedules and unlimited time off - contributing positively to work-life balance and mental health.
  • Support for physical health and emotional well-being. In addition to standard health insurance benefits, employees want workplace wellness programs to support them holistically. Company-wide physical wellness challenges are a popular way to promote participation in a culture of wellness - as are on-site gyms or reimbursement of health club membership fees. Companies can also support mental health by offering days off specifically for that purpose and even by offering regular meditation programs. And as part of this desired culture of wellness, employees specifically mention standing desks as an important factor in workplace health.

Standing Desks as a Wellness Benefit

According to EHS Today, the annual SHRM benefits survey reports that the prevalence of standing desks as an employer wellness benefit increased from 44 percent in 2017 to 53 percent in 2018. If a job candidate finds that offering sit-stand workstations as part of a larger wellness program is common in their industry, a company without that benefit will naturally look less attractive in comparison. Similarly, a long-time employee might look around at competitor organizations and find they offer more in the way of ergonomics. As sit-stand capable desks become more commonplace, employees will expect them as a standard benefit option.

Unfortunately, some companies have inconsistent policies - such as offering standing solutions only to those who ask - or simply state that employees can cover their own costs to customize their work area in the way they see fit. However, employees might not have the background knowledge or finances to set up a proper sit-stand desk on their own. And sporadically providing this perk could be viewed by other employees as favoritism and decrease morale.

A company-wide ergonomics program not only benefits the physical health of employees but also provides the reassurance of knowing the employer is concerned for their well-being. A Texas A&M study focused on studying the effect of standing on productivity (spoiler alert - it's positive!) additionally noted that employees with standing desks demonstrated a positive difference in comfort and attitude. Workers who know a company has their back - both figuratively and literally - are more inclined to stick around, contribute top-quality work and recommend the organization to other driven individuals.

Consider all these factors when evaluating additions to your organization's benefits program - or pat yourself on the back if you already have. Ergonomic solutions are one of many key competitive assets you can use to recruit and retain the talent you need. Employees are the backbone of any company, so keep theirs strong by providing support for healthy habits!

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