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Welfare in the workplace, expense or investment?

Welfare in the workplace, expense or investment?

APRIL 2018 | 4 minutes

Employees are the most important investment for any company. Taking care of them, their health and well-being, is to indirectly take care of the company. Putting the focus on people involves addressing such basic issues such as air, lighting, water, food, furniture and the body and mind of employees. Complying with all this, based on specific indices and an external assessment, has a name. It is the Well Certification and Spain is the world leader when it comes to these certifications. Its function consists of measuring, determining and monitoring the characteristics of the environment of a building which affect the health and well-being of the people who work in it. 

The IE Business School of Madrid has recently organized some workshops, under the title Well-being at work: Expense or investment?, has brought together different specialists to discuss its application and advantages, in a round table introduced by Muriel Altunaga, architect of office projects at CBRE and moderated by Soledat Berbegal, Consultant and Strategic Brand Director for Actiu. According to these professionals, the greater the sense of well-being, the better the mood and performance in every aspect. And, therefore, the less that needs to be invested in medical expenses, sick leave and problems derived from a bad atmosphere.

Muriel Altunaga (CBRE), Gonzalo Muelas (CBRE), Isabel Martínez (CNIC), Beatriz García (CBRE), Miguel Ángel Quiroga (IE), Patricia Fuertes (CBRE), Paulino Pastor (Ambisalud), Julia Ayuso (Universidad Tokio), Soledat Berbegal (Actiu), Manuel Palencia (Mahou

In fact, according to Isabel Martínez, Doctor of Clinical Psychology, "personal satisfaction, climate, work environment, motivation, stress and the relationship between each person, affect the real commitment that each has to their organization”. "The design of the space directly impacts the personal appreciation of the environment. For this reason, well-being is very much conditioned by physical spaces, but also by emotional spaces, to which we contribute, for example, conciliation policies and job flexibility”, he affirmed.

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Speaking of designing environments to provide well-being, Beatriz García, architect and interior designer in the consultancy specialized in space management CBRE, speaks of the importance of biophilic design, or the need for humans to be in contact with nature. "Concepts such as vegetation, natural light, water, colours and shapes can help motivate the workforce. A specific case is that of the company CS Johnson. After a reduction in the number of staff, they managed to regain motivation and an improvement in the work environment thanks to a change in the very well-designed spaces”, he said.

In relation to the taking into account of results, Julia Ayuso, architect at CBRE says that it is crucial to be able to measure the efficiency of these, a priori, changing variables. “What cannot be measured cannot be improved. We need to rigorously objectify and quantify the characteristics that improve productivity and well-being in workspaces. And that is the way to go about strengthening these certifications even more and convincing more companies to decide to take a chance on them”, he said.

CBRE Project Madrid, WELL Certification. @wellcertified.com

A real case of a company committed to its employees is that of Mahou. Manuel Palencia, its head of well-being programs, describes how the commitment to the health and well-being of the workers "is essential in order to create an efficient, productive and high-performance corporate force". In its case, for years they have been developing a program called “Look after me”, where space plays a fundamental role. “We want them to work for us not just because of the salary, but for many other reasons. And when you offer health and well-being to people, the return is six-fold’’, she confirmed.

Paulino Pastor works for Airelimpio, a consultancy specialized in companies’ air with an extensive track record and experience. According to this expert, in France, the bad quality of the air costs companies a total of 19.5 million Euros. "Having good thermal comfort in the office is essential for the performance of daily tasks and does not represent a large investment per employee. The case of air is similar, which assumes an investment per employee of €300 per year”, he noted.


Patricia Fuentes, head of the Well Certifications at CBRE explains how more and more companies are interested in this certification that, in addition to making office metres profitable with a space design tailored to people and their daily tasks, improves the productivity of the company. “Far from what it seems, well-being is not expensive. What is really expensive for companies is malaise and everything it generates as far as psychological and health problems in their employees are concerned”.

Because it is in that physical and emotional well-being of the members of a team where motivation, creativity and productivity lie, indispensable for a company to improve, innovate and advance. And, in this sense, the Well Certification is not only a useful tool for measuring and analysing the parameters of those who depend on this well-being, but it also serves as a road map for achieving that employees work more happily and that they feel fulfilled and provide more value.

Symantec Project, WELL Certification. @wellcertified.com
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