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ISS’ Wellbeing Trends for Workplaces in 2023

ISS’ Wellbeing Trends for Workplaces in 2023
28 February 2023

Ulla Riber, Head of Group Workplace Management at ISS, looks at how physical and mental wellbeing, sustainability as well as diversity, inclusion and belonging are the three trends that will dominate workplace management priorities in 2023.

Ulla is supporting ISS’s customers around the world in creating future-proof workplaces and great workplace experiences. Ulla has for many years translated mega trends and corporate strategies into working environments and workplace designs that strengthen employee attraction, productivity and wellbeing in an environment that fosters collaboration and innovation. She has been with ISS for six years.



Picture: a photograph of Ulla. Image Credit: ISS


Employee Wellbeing is the Key Driver of the 2023 Value-Creating Workplace


It’s now commonly acknowledged that hybrid working is here to stay; just one of the many legacies of COVID-19. A recent survey in the US showed that 58 per cent of respondents could now work remotely at least part of the time. In the UK, the Flexible Working Bill, if passed, will give even more opportunities to make flexible working the default.

At the same time, employers are very aware of the value that physical presence and social interactions at the workplace have on employee motivation, on company culture, productivity, and on attracting and retaining talent. In other words: The office is here to stay too.

Consequently, employers are seeking ways to create workplaces that people want to come to. Workplaces with purpose.

And as ever, the question I’m asked from customers around the world is “How?”.

Well, there isn’t just one secret ingredient. And there’s no ‘one size fits all’. It all comes down to the individual company, its culture and its people. However, one thing is for sure: In 2023, it’s all about the people.

Let me share three key workplace trends which all have people at the core. In my global workplace management team at ISS, we have been working with these trends for the past couple of years together with our big global clients. But going forward, they will dominate employers’ priorities even more on a broad scale.


1. Not “Just a Job”: The Rise in Importance of Health and Wellbeing


“Your health is our concern”: that should be the mantra of every employer.

Wellbeing is front and centre when it comes to retention and talent attraction. Employers need to foster not only physical but psychological safety in the workplace. Particularly at present, when we’re facing global financial challenges and are starting to see mass redundancies in Big Tech, people may be concerned at a possible trickle-down effect into other industries. They need to be reassured that they are ‘safe’ at the workplace.

In addition, good mental health at work is of course a matter of workload and work stress. Leaders need to understand and identify mental health issues and actively look to predict and mitigate them. Beyond that, it’s possible to use the physical workplace to offer stress relief and nurture employees’ wellbeing through, among other things, aromatherapy pop-ups, culinary nutrition demos, decompression sessions, sleep clinics, mindfulness events, work/life harmony workshops, conscious leadership seminars and even therapy dog pop-ups. We see more and more clients prioritising these initiatives as “need to” rather than “nice to”.


"By making employees aware of their food CO2 footprint, as well as providing nutrition information, this can empower them to make more sustainable – as well as healthier – choices. We’ve recorded a 51 per cent CO2 reduction in canteens that have this information available, alongside an 80 per cent satisfaction rating."


2. Help Me Make a Difference: A Workplace That Empowers its Employees


Our planet and environment are – fortunately – of growing concern for both employers and employees. And businesses have a great opportunity to move the needle on their sustainability agenda by empowering its people.

We love to capture data about ourselves. Smart watches, apps that tell us what to eat, when to sleep, how far we’ve run, how much screen time we’ve had… the list goes on.

In the same vein, we want our workplaces to improve us: help us to be more sustainable, more productive, make healthier choices. Workplaces that enable and even enforce habits or activities that we consider important to us immediately become more attractive and more of a draw.

Businesses can and are tapping into this values-based, self-improvement mindset of employees by making the workplace an enabling environment.

For example, by making employees aware of their food CO2 footprint, as well as providing nutrition information, this can empower them to make more sustainable – as well as healthier – choices. We’ve recorded a 51 per cent CO2 reduction in canteens that have this information available, alongside an 80 per cent satisfaction rating.


3. Come As You Are: Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Must be Reflected in the Workspace


The idea that everyone should be able to come as they are – to be their “whole” or “authentic’” selves – are now transcending company policies and processes. Employers are increasingly paying attention to ensuring that diversity and inclusion is reflected and prioritised in the workspace.

For example, we have cooperated with some of our big clients within the banking sector to design their offices with multi-faith rooms for reflection or gender-neutral facilities.

Within the space of accessibility and usability, concrete solutions would be to install curtains that help to control acoustics locally – a great support for people with hearing loss. Or to implement simple signage for easy orientation, spacious lifts, lowered reception desks, and visual impairment friendly colour schemes.

In addition, more and more businesses are now celebrating different faith days and holidays – workplace experiences designed to educate and embrace.

Where people feel like they belong, that’s where they will want to be.


Let People be the Core of Every Workplace Solution


Beyond these dominating trends we will still see many businesses reducing their physical footprint, re-orienting the purpose of workspaces away from individual focus-time and towards group work and inclusivity.

Of course, in today’s connected age, the effective use of technology is also a must for any employer wanting to entice employees back to the workplace. We often associate collaborative software with facilitating remote collaboration – for example through Zoom or Teams. But tech is increasingly being used to make the in-person workplace more efficient and effective: Apps to view peoples’ office presence, book meeting rooms, navigate worksites, order lunch to avoid the queue. Digital solutions can help to make the workplace a more rewarding experience – if you put people and their working patterns, not just tech, at the core of the solution.  

In general, if employers increase their understanding of their employees – how they work and not least why they work – they can create the right and attractive workplaces for them.

Picture: a photograph of three people smiling and working on laptops together. Image Credit: Unsplash

Article written by Ulla Riber | Published 28 February 2023


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