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Workplace Wellness and the Regenerative Workplace

Humility and empathetic listening have never been more important to address the needs of employees to create a human-centric workplace that supports peoples’ mental, social and physical wellbeing. 

Creating a regenerative workplace means thoughtful investments in workplace design as well as leading workplace technologies to bridge remote and onsite workers. 

This requires responsive, empathetic and thoughtful workplace policies that foster inclusion and equity across the workforce--which will help retain talent. 

Human-centric leaders must also embrace workplace experimentation with a learning mindset to attract the next-generation workforce. 


Essential Tenants of a Regenerative Workplace  

The concept of a regenerative workplace is focused on taking an integrated "human-centric" workplace approach in helping employees prioritize their mental, social and physical wellbeing to achieve long-term sustainable performance. 

It embodies the idea that when people feel supported mentally, physically and socially, they can bring their best selves to work—creating better outcomes for both the individual and the organization. 

Peter Miscovich, executive managing director, global future of work leader for JLL, explains long-term remote work and work-from-home only workplace behaviors can lead to people feeling disconnected and isolated from their corporate culture and from their workplace community. 

"By supporting employees’ mental, social and physical health, regenerative workplaces are inherently human-centric," he says. "Health and wellbeing were previously considered part of private life, are now a non-negotiable part of the overall corporate workplace value proposition." 

Created through thoughtful workplace policies and office design, a regenerative workplace provides people with psychological safety, feelings of inclusion and the ability to achieve superior performance.  

"To foster social health, regenerative workplaces cultivate social reciprocity, community belonging and a sense of shared responsibility," Miscovich says. "To support physical wellness, this type of workplace provides flexibility for healthy routines and improved life/work integration — managing work around life, rather than vice versa." 


Placing Human Beings at the Center of Work 

Caitlin Duffy, senior director in research firm Gartner's HR practice, notes that while many organizations have implemented a hybrid work strategy, they often limit their focus to one dimension: flexibility around where employees work. 

"But if leaders focus on location alone, they’ll miss much larger benefits," she says. "To stay ahead of the competition and salvage employee well-being, employers must take a more comprehensive approach to work design that places human beings at the center of work, rather than a subset of work." 

Duffy explains organizations can embody a regenerative workplace by embracing the concept of proactive rest. 

Specifically, proactive rest consists of three key elements--availability, accessibility and appropriateness.  

"This means there are a robust set of options for employees to use to rest and stay charged, employees are encouraged to take advantage of the tools and resources available and to rest guilt-free and that rest tools meet the individual needs of employees," she says.  

In addition, organizations should also facilitate intentional interactions amongst employees to foster a regenerative workplace. 

"Our research shows that intentional interactions – where employees have the choice but are not mandated to interact with one another – make employees 12 times as likely to feel connected with their colleagues, as well as five times more likely to be on a high performing team," Duffy adds.  


Workplace Wellness, Physically Embodied 

The physical embodiment and design elements of a regenerative workplace can take many different forms, but it generally involves creating a workspace that is designed to support the well-being of employees, reduce its impact on the environment, and contribute to the local community.  

Miscovich says some examples of these elements include biophilic design, which incorporates elements of nature into the workspace, such as natural light, plants, and greenery. 

"These can improve employee health and productivity while reducing stress and promoting relaxation," he says.  

Providing ergonomic furniture, such as adjustable chairs and standing desks, can help reduce the risk of work-related injuries and improve employee comfort and productivity. 

The availability of on-site wellness facilities including fitness centers, yoga studios, and meditation rooms, can help employees stay healthy, reduce stress, and promote work-life balance. 

"Using sustainable building materials such as recycled materials or materials that have a low carbon footprint can help reduce the environmental impact of the workplace," Miscovich adds.  

Additionally, incorporating energy-efficient features such as smart lighting, heating, and cooling systems can help reduce energy consumption and lower the carbon footprint of the workplace. 


The Future of Workplace Wellness 

Duffy says moving forward, organizations will have to consider more preventative tactics to address the full spectrum of employees’ well-being needs by redesigning work and people processes. 

"Companies should offer radical flexibility to help employees feel autonomous in making decisions about what works best for them and engage employees to find work process pain points and remove work friction" she says. 

They must also drive empathetic management by equipping managers with guidance and actionable tools to get ahead of employee wellness challenges. 

She notes managers are on the front lines of instilling a culture of empathy, pointing to Gartner research indicating employees whose managers embrace empathy-based management are less likely to quit, are more engaged and have overall better well-being as well as perform at a higher level. 

"Essentially, empathy is a key differentiator that drives employee performance in a hybrid world," Duffy says.