According to a global study done by Willis Towers Watson, promoting health and wellbeing in the workplace is becoming an important trend and a priority for organizations in all countries participating in the study.
The results of the study clearly points out what companies achieved, when they have introduced highly effective health and productivity programs. Important results include reducing health care costs, fewer days due to illness and sick leave, lower employee turnover, etc.
Very importantly, the positive impact that health programs have on employee engagement and motivation must be also mentioned. And how to motivate employees is a topic, which HR professionals are constantly dealing with. Right here the human resources function is presented with an opportunity to play a strategic role in increasing employee engagement, which has a direct impact on productivity and thus the company’s results.
Last but not least, a healthy working environment contributes also towards the total employee experience. Another big topic, which companies are starting to pay more attention to. If they want to build a strong employer brand, they cannot afford to stay behind in how they care for their employees’ health lifestyle.
There is no perfect formula or perfect combination of benefits or programs that would work effectively for every business and in every sector. This introductory article focuses on the working environment, which is just one of several areas that affect employee health and wellbeing.
Physical environment at work
We spend much of our day at work, so it’s a good idea to think about the environment in which we work and what affects us. For the physical environment, it will be best start with questions such as:
- Is there enough outdoor light in the workplace?
- What is the quality of artificial light, when it´s dark outside?
- Is there a regular supply of fresh air?
- Is the indoor or outdoor air temperature suitable for work?
- Are we sitting on a high-quality chair and in the right way?
- Is our environment too loud or full of disturbing sounds?
- Do we have a space at work, where we can relax and refresh our minds, if necessary?
- What beverages and meals does our workplace offer?
There are many other questions that we could continue with. First of all, it´s about realizing that we might need to do a more conscious analysis of the physical environment that surrounds us at work. Perhaps, it might be even worth to do a survey with employees and simply ask them, what they would want to change and what they appreciate the most in their workplace.
Social environment at work
Relationships and social environment at work have a huge impact on employee health and productivity. This type of environment is often underestimated, because the reality might not be visible or easily measurable at first sight. The main manifestations of a negative social environment include various forms of bullying, bossing, mobbing, passive aggression, discrimination, gossip, elitism, etc.
The negative social environment in the workplace makes the mental health of employees worse, what then paralyzes them and makes it hard for them to enjoy their work. Fortunately, there are various solutions available for these problems.
First of all, it is important to start with educating employee to know how a positive social environment looks like and what sort of behavior is harming it. Management and leadership must also set an example in creating a healthy social environment. Only then employees will believe that reporting of any bad behavior to their management, can make a difference.
However, the organization should also be able to offer employees anonymous channels through which they can report, if something is wrong. Once something is reported in an anonymous way or not, it is important for the organization to use the help of experts, who know how to investigate cases and how to deal with them. Usually, it is about sensitive issues, and a wrong solution or prolonging the whole investigation can make the whole situation even more difficult or even send a bad signal to the whole organization.
If needed, whether it is to cope with a difficult situation or its consequences, companies should be able to provide their employees with psychological counselling, whether through their internal or external resources. Nowadays, employees can use advisory services in several ways, such as chat, phone, video call, or in person.
This view of the social environment is focused more on cases where fires need to be extinguished. Preferably, companies should start first with a prevention, that is, with building a positive and inclusive social environment within their corporate culture and with implementing initiatives that promote healthy workplace relationships. But this topic remains for another article 😊.
What is your experience or view about this?
Written by Ivan Kuzma, Founder of HRprofil.eu