Five reasons to prioritise employee wellness
Global risk management provider SAI Global is urging employers to prioritise the wellbeing of their employees, revealing five benefits of doing so.
Rod Beath, workplace safety specialist at SAI Global, reveals that while employers are accustomed to implementing changes in the business to prevent physical injuries, they are less confident when it comes to managing mental health risks.
“Too often our audits have identified pressures in companies’ organisational matrixes — led by higher management — that foster environments that adversely affect employees’ mental health. Often those at a managerial level are not aware that the way they communicate with their staff, or exert control over work scheduling and decision-making, can inhibit a mentally healthy workplace,” Beath said.
Various organisational factors can adversely affect workplace wellness and wellbeing, with management decisions having a significant impact on employees. A study by the Global Wellness Institute revealed that workforce ‘unwellness’ costs the global economy 15% of its economic output each year. Organisations that meet the ISO 45001 Standard are required to consider injury and ill health, which includes the physical, mental or cognitive health of their workforce.
According to SAI Global, employers should focus on improving wellness and wellbeing in their workplace for the following reasons:
- To improve employee recruitment and retention: Absenteeism in the workplace costs the Australian economy $44 billion annually. Health programs or wellness activities can provide a healthy outlet for managing stress, which could foster a harmonious working environment. While this is an intangible benefit, unable to be measured financially, happier and more engaged employees can lead to reduced costs in recruitment or training.
- Reduce workers compensation claims: Work-related stress can manifest in physical symptoms, such as headaches and fatigue, and psychological symptoms, such as anxiety and depression. The mismanagement of workers’ health and wellbeing can lead to significant organisational costs, as workers compensational mental injury claims can lead to lengthy absences from work.
- Maintain organisational reputation: If organisations want to attract contracts with governments, or their agencies, those governments expect that their partners have implemented best-practice standards, including health and safety standards. Organisations are also expected to have measures in place to support wellness and wellbeing, particularly in light of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that call for good health and wellbeing in the workplace.
- Improve productivity and engagement: Improving the mental health of employees can improve their resilience to mental stress, decision-making, workflow and workplace relationships, leading to increased employee productivity. Flexible working arrangements, encouraging employees to take their full lunch breaks, rewarding good work and implementing an open and trusting management style can increase employee engagement.
- Build and sustain high employee morale: Many workplaces seek higher levels of internal efficiency, putting pressure on employees and increasing stress. Fostering a ‘go home better’ motto, with fitness and exercise programs, health screenings, nutritional advice and programs to manage stress, can improve overall employee wellness.
“Let the results speak for themselves — healthier employees tend to work harder, are happier and are generally more willing to help others be more efficient,” Beath said.
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