Commercial Design Approach: Improving Employee Health and Wellness

UC&D Magazine July 2018

The following article was published in the Utah Construction & Design Magazine July 2018 Issue.

Designing for a Healthy Utah Workforce

When designing corporate workplace buildings, one of the key goals of employers is creating spaces that will attract and retain quality employees. According to the CDC, the average full-time working American spends 1/3 of their life – five days a week – at work. This is in addition to more than 80% of current US jobs requiring little to no physical activity. The result? Employees are now choosing companies based not only on compensation, but on the functional and aesthetically-pleasing work spaces that positively contribute to their quality of life.

Companies are competing for quality workers from the same employee pool and are striving to be an employer everyone wants to work for, while providing employees a sense of pride. Plus, companies want to provide healthy environments for their workforce. Employees are more productive if they’re happy and their various needs are being met.

Companies such as Deseret First Credit Union, Security Metrics, the LDS Church, Micro Focus, US Synthetic, and Vivant Smart Home are incorporating employee fitness centers, cafeterias, recreational centers and health clinics in their facilities to differentiate themselves; to attract and retain employees. According to Curtis Miner Architecture Principal Jay Taggart, “Some of the most recent trends we are seeing include cafeterias providing a meal or two a day. One of the current projects we are designing has an indoor gym, fitness center, cafeteria and game room with a bowling alley. The only time employees need to leave work is to go home.”

US Synthetic offers employees an onsite health clinic, fitness center, and cafeteria, along with variety of health and wellness programs. “We’ve integrated healthcare and fitness facilities into our building for employee wellness reasons,” Kevin Graham, Engineering Director, describes the US Synthetic’s philosophy, “This has resulted in significant positive outcomes for not only employees but the overall company. Our goal is to improve the lives of all. Our motivation is to provide resources for our employees and their families to lead healthy, well balanced lives.”


Fun, open, bright spaces are hallmarks on modern interior designs such as the Security Metrics Office Building in Orem.

US Synthetic’s new facility includes an employee fitness center that is open 24 hours a day. The center offers a full-time fitness trainer and a variety of fitness classes and challenges. The company offers monthly classes that include yoga, weight loss, and mountain bike conditioning, along with multiple programs and challenges of many types, from encouraging getting eight hours of sleep each night to disconnecting from electronics and engaging with family.

The company’s onsite health clinic provides reduced copays and allows employees to have an onsite doctor visit, which reduces appointment times from up to two hours to a mere 20 minutes. The employee saves time and money while avoiding the stress of driving across town, parking etc. The clinic improves employee health, increases convenience, and decreases overall healthcare costs for the employee and company. Kevin summarizes the success of their program, “Our employees know they have a support network to achieve their health, fitness and wellness goals.”

Vivint Smart Home, also provides integrated health and wellness spaces in their commercial building. They offer employees an exercise room, cafeteria, health clinic, full size indoor basketball court, outside basketball court, and sand volleyball. Vivint Project Manager Dana Dodge says employees save both time and money. “They don’t have to have gym memberships or take time off work to get medical care. Plus, a free meal for 8 hours worked and unlimited fountain drinks.” Dana goes on to describe the benefit of these amenities to the company, “Healthy employees tend to be happy, productive employees. Offering health, fitness and wellness amenities plays a critical role in being able to recruit and retain the best people.”


Lunchtime hoops anyone? Employees at Vivint’s Corporate Office can mix it up on a full-size NBA court during breaks from work.

As health remains a priority in a nation overcome by obesity and drug addition, Utah design and construction will continue to focus on the seamless incorporation of health and wellness into commercial spaces.