Employee Well-being, Health and Safety at Work
In order to to maintain a successful business — a company needs to take care of their employees well-being in various ways. They can encourage employees in healthy lifestyle as well as ensure safety of the working environment physically and socially.
Companies spend a great deal of money on the health of employees. Different variations of health benefits can be offered as a part of total compensation. A company might pay for sick-leave, health insurance etc.
Sometimes companies might create incentives to maximize the healthy lifestyle of their employees in order to reduce the healthcare costs. These incentives can also act as a motivator for certain employees.
Wellness programs should be tailored to serve the specific work force. For instance, there’s no point offering free gym memberships for a workforce whose already conducting very physical work. Having services to take care of the heavily worked body might work better for this kind of group.
Workplace violence is highly related to physical safety. 50% of big US companies report workplace violence, yet, only 30% of these companies report they have policies for cases like this. Sexual harrassment or sexual assaults are a part of physical violence people can face at the workplace.
Keeping up with high safety standards is highly important in a company. Having basic things like evacuation plans and evacuation drills in case of an emergency are in place to prevent injuries and create safety. A company can invest in first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, security systems and panic buttons are also measures a company might take to ensure security. Most companies also train their staff for certain hazardous situations and hire security guards.
In several industries there are also general rules on how to conduct daily operations so employees are not in danger in any way. The best way to ensure safety is to create procedures and standards to prevent injuries.
To ensure health incentives are not discriminatory, they should try to be rewarding rather than punishing if employees opt not to attend. Some employees might consider health measures to be invasive when it comes to their privacy or don’t want companies to meddle with their life outside of work.
There are several different wellness programs company could offer their employees
- Offer free or cheaper options for exercise (for example; gym at the office, Liikuntaseteli in Finland)
- Provide free/cheaper massages
- Offer bonuses/incentive money for healthy groups
The key is to ensure employees are aware of the wellness programs and how to sign up for them.
Keeping your employees mentally healthy and happy creates better work and greater work efforts. The psychological aspect is highly tied to the physical and social well-being. Overworked, tired people have a higher tendency to develop mental illnesses. Also bullying or other social issue can trigger mental problems.
Some companies offer free psychological consultation for their employees.
There are several workforces that are in higher risk of mental damage at work. Military officers often suffer from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) after serving in the war. There have been several cases where people have committed suicide by driving a passenger vehicle against oncoming traffic against trucks. This has increased the number of PTSD cases amongst truck drivers.
Unhappy and mentally unstable employees can face several issues in physical wellbeing;
- Poor psychological health leads to various detrimental physical effects
- Higher cardiovascular disease risk
- Weight gain
- Weaker neuro-endocrine regulation
- Higher levels of salivary cortisol
- Immune deficiency
- Poor sleep
- These effects cause a downward spiral effect, with one negative effect contributing to another
The mental issues of employees can cost billions in sick-leaves which also should encourage the company to take care of the well-being of their employees. A National Alliance of Mental Illness report shows that 1 in every 5 adults in America suffer from some level of mental health issues.
These issues can decrease the productivity at work as well as create anxiety and irritability. Employees suffering from mental issues can start to doubt their abilities which can cause worsening job results. Concentration and learning becomes harder for the employee and they have troubles in decision making. Mentally ill employees can withdraw from groups and become depressive.
It can be hard to detect mental issues within the workforce. Managers have a professional relationship with their employees and many workplaces don’t share personal aspects of their lives at work.
It is important to make the employees aware of the programs and support the workplace offers so they can reach out themselves.
Keeping up a healthy environment where employees feell valued and heard can reduce the amount of mental issues.
In order for maximum productivity, employees should feel comfortable at the workplace and hold successful professional relationships. During recruiting, company tends to look for certain type of people to ensure a working team that functions well together. Some companies might even involve current employees in the hiring process so the person is the perfect fit for the team.
Many companies spend money on team building in various ways. Christmas parties are almost a norm in many workplaces in Finland nowadays. In addition companies might arrange activity days or spend money on training helping in team building etc.
In the recent years, bullying has become a hot topic of workplace well-being. According to Workplace Bullying Institute, 50% of employees have seen bullying at the workplace or been bullied themselves.
In order to maintain healthy social environment at the workplace, managers need to have procedures for unfit behavior. They need to encourage open channels of communication and take action if things go wrong.
All of mentioned aspects of well-being are strictly related to each other on issues in one can lead to issues in the rest of them.
Gomez-Mejia, L.R., Balkin, D.B. and Cardy, R.L. 2016. Managing Human Resources. Global Edition 8/E. Pearson. London.
Canadian Mental Health Association (2017) “Mental Illnesses at the Workplace”. URL: http://www.cmha.ca/mental_health/depression-in-the-workplace/#.WNoYkzvyjIU. Accessed 28.3.2017.
National Alliance of Mental Illness (2017) “Mental Health Facts, Multicultural”. URL: https://www.nami.org/NAMI/media/NAMI-Media/Infographics/MulticulturalMHFacts10-23-15.pdf. Accessed 28.3.2017.
Workplace Bullying Institute 2015. Results of the 2010 WBI U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey. URL: http://www.workplacebullying.org/wbiresearch/2010-wbi-national-survey/ Accessed 28.03.2017