Making Workplace Safety About More Than Just The Physical
18 October 2022 - Evotix
Employees are the life force of any organization. Not only do they keep the practicalities of the operation going, but their individual and collective presence and energy is what builds its unique culture and identity. This is precisely why it is vital for everyone to work in a physically and psychologically safe and fulfilling environment. Yet so many organizations are still struggling to get it right and reap the rewards of doing so.
Defining good health and well-being
Good health and well-being is the foundation on which life, and work, operates. As anyone who’s suffered from serious or chronic illness will tell you, without it, life doesn’t feel like it’s worth much. So, what do we actually mean by this?
Good health and well-being is made up of a mix of physical vitality in the body, mental fitness in the mind, emotional wellbeing in the heart; as well as meaning and motivation to create a strong sense of purpose. Traditional health and safety in the workplace plays a clear role within this, helping to keep employee’s bodies physically safe, but in today’s fast paced, always digitally-on world, there’s so much more to it than that.
The workplace is a driving force for health and well-being
In this post-pandemic world, boundaries between work and personal life have become increasingly blurred with more and more people finding it hard to ‘unplug’ from work during their off-hours. According to research by Indeed, 61% of remote workers and 53% on-site workers are struggling with this issue. Additionally, 37% people say they are working longer hours than usual since the pandemic started. The idea of work/life balance is gone and the concept of work/life integration has taken over.
With trends like this it’s easy to see how the workplace is a key force in health and well-being. If people aren't working for someone whose business model, culture and benefits support their body, heart, mind and give them a sense of purpose, then one or more of these areas start to suffer and eventually so too does performance in the workplace.
Fostering good health and well-being benefits businesses
Employers have a moral obligation to support their colleagues in fostering great health and well-being. Imagine a world where your workplace energizes the heart, body and mind. What if your leaders put health and well-being first? What if your teams worked together to deliver a healthy high performance? What if your business becomes healthy by design, rather than just talking about it?
The benefits to employers who do so are well-researched and proven. First and foremost, good health and well-being decreases the need to skip work because fewer health problems mean fewer sick days. The Institute for Healthcare Consumerism found that wellness programs drove a 28% reduction in sick days. In turn, this has a positive impact on productivity by reducing the number of employees who feel they still need to show up for work in ill health, and end up not being productive. More days at work means more work is done productively and organizations achieve their strategic goals faster.
A good health and well-being strategy also positively impacts recruitment and retention, with Gallup finding that employees of all generation rank “the organization cares about employees’ well-being" in their top three criteria when choosing a new job. It also increases morale, with 70% of workers enrolled in a workplace wellness program reporting “higher job satisfaction” after enrollment. This is incredibly important for businesses of all sizes, since companies with engaged, happy employees are 21% more profitable, and workplaces with high morale see 41% less unnecessary sick days on the job.
The impact on the bottom line will also be positive, with every dollar spent on a wellness program, reducing the cost of medical costs and absenteeism by $6 in total.
Room for improvement
Despite all this positive evidence, it seems many organizations still aren’t quite getting the message. Seventy-five percent of employees say they’ve experienced burnout and 67% feel it’s gotten worse over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. With 36% of employees saying their organization isn’t doing anything to help, it’s no surprise that so many people are joining The Great Resignation.
Employers are well versed in their legal responsibility to invest in workplace safety and compliance; but it’s clear that many are still playing catch-up when it comes to broadening that out to foster good health and well-being too.
Workplace safety, health and well-being goes hand-in-hand
Despite all the well documented evidence and case studies of market-leading companies like SAP linking its investment in these areas to overall business success, 56% of employers still say they’d like to do more to improve staff well-being but don’t feel they have the right training or guidance.
As the fight to recruit and retain the best talent, and fine tune productivity and build a workplace where people actually want to be – the need to consider how to make health and well-being more of a priority rises. The smartest organizations will look at how they can bring strategies together to create something that supports heart, body and mind.
They won’t just talk the talk, but they’ll walk the walk – baking health, safety and well-being into their everyday. They’ll make it easy to engage with through mobile phone apps, and define clear roles and responsibilities for senior leaders, middle management and everyday employees. By keeping all of this in mind, employers can become positive change makers, making workplace safety about more than just the physical and seeing the positive impact on their bottom-line.
The Mental Health First Aid Kit, GLOW, helps employees by providing strategies to help them look after their Body, Mind, Heart and Purpose – find out more here.
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