The 'What' and the 'Why' of Workplace Health and Wellbeing

The World Health Organization defines Workplace Health and Wellbeing as the combined efforts of employers, employees, and society to improve the health and wellbeing of people while at work. Health and wellbeing are inextricably linked — and a deeper understanding of both is necessary to achieve a safer workplace and healthier workforce. Workplace Health and Wellbeing ties into a Whole Person Approach, through which employers regard employee health holistically (Physical, Mental, Social, Work) both inside and outside of the workplace, and encourage better wellness throughout.

Employers have always been concerned about their employees from a personal and human perspective. But recent studies have also shown that it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s also the intelligent thing to do from a business perspective. Workplace health and wellbeing has a ripple effect on organizational productivity and can be linked to employee absenteeism or taking more sick or compensation leaves. Today, workplace health and wellbeing forms part of the company ethos, mission statements, and overall strategy — so much so that new roles, such as Wellbeing Manager and Chief Wellbeing Officers, are emerging.

Despite this, only 52 percent of employees believe that their workplace is healthy. Employers are continually battling risk. In 2018, in Australia there were 106,260 serious claims for workplace-related injuries and 144 fatalities a year. As employees need to manage the physical safety of their employees, they also need to protect the mental wellbeing of their employees. And, in times such as these, that requires getting creative.

First, let’s take a look at how a workplace can impact a person’s wellness.

In terms of physical health:

⦁ Hazardous work sites. When work sites are poorly maintained or poorly managed, they can become dangerous quickly. Employers need to take ownership of their worksites and create processes to manage and support them properly.
⦁ Occupational hazards. Some occupations are inherently dangerous. While an employer can do their best to improve upon their organizations’ environment, employees may still be exposed to hazardous levels of noise, stress, or dangerous chemicals. Physically demanding jobs such as construction and mining will always involve strenuous action such as heavy lifting.
⦁ Poor ergonomics. Offices that are not ergonomically equipped can lead to significant, long-term health issues for employees. Repetitive stress injuries and back problems can directly result from poorly-designed desks, keyboards, and monitors. Regardless of location, whether on-site or at home, employers are responsible for ensuring that employees have the appropriate equipment.
⦁ Fatigue and overwork. Physical and mental exhaustion can both lead to mistakes, carelessness and accidents. To reduce the chances of fatigue and overwork, employers need to make sure that employees have enough downtime.
⦁ Sedentary behaviours. Just sitting at a desk for too long and not getting enough exercise can ultimately lead to depression, weight gain, and other health-related issues.

In terms of mental health:

⦁ Stress. Employees may have personal stress that is unrelated to work, or may have work-related stress if their workloads are too large. They may also feel that they aren’t confident in conducting their job.
⦁ Anxiety. Work-related anxiety often relates to job performance, but today, it can also relate to job security. Employees may not have been assured that they are going to have a job or will continue to have the same number of hours.
⦁ Boredom. Employees who think they aren’t progressing with their career may feel as though they are aimless or directionless. Employees are happier with employers who offer opportunities for advancement.
⦁ Burnout. Employee burnout often has a severe impact on job performance and employee retention. A lack of social connection, business culture or physical challenges can leave employees feeling less confident about the importance of their work.
⦁ Depression. Employees can experience depression for many reasons — including no reason at all. This all depends on a persons brain structure, genetic disposition, and environmental exposures. But when it comes to work-related depression, it often involves them feeling dissatisfied in their role, or unable to fulfil it.
⦁ Discrimination. Discrimination and harassment can be serious issues for an employer and can cause significant harm to employees. Employers need to endeavor to have healthy company cultures that defeat this type of activity.
⦁ Work-life balance. When employees are required to spend too much time at work, it can damage their interpersonal relationships — including their relationships with partners and children.

Work has a significant impact on a person’s physical and mental health and focus. Work gives people a sense of purpose and connectedness, as well as impacting their social lives — relationships, friendships, and time and ability to parent.
Physical and mental health can overlap. When employees are depressed, they don’t take care of themselves. When employees are injured, they can become depressed. Employers need to be proactive in managing employee health from all angles if they want engaged, safe, loyal, and productive employees.

 

Why is it so important?

Employee Health is already high on the priority list of most employers. The global pandemic has also shone the light on the importance of Health & Wellbeing. Ethically, it only makes sense to care about your employees. But when employers are thinking strategically, they also need to think about what’s best for their business. After all, their business has to survive to ensure that their workers remain employed.
Luckily, taking care of employee health isn’t just ethical; it’s also in the organisation’s best interests.
Employees with poor mental or physical health tend to:
⦁ Call in sick more frequently.
⦁ Display a lack of productivity when they are available.
⦁ May produce lower quality work.
⦁ Are more likely to leave the organization, incurring hiring costs to replace the employee.

Ultimately, this all may impact your organization’s bottom line. Organizations with poor wellness support may find that their reputation is damaged and may find it difficult to attract or retain talent.

Healthier employees lead to a more robust organization. Organizations that want to protect their stability and ROI should be investing in employee health and wellbeing.

What challenges does it tackle?

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

Reducing onsite accidents

These cost Australian businesses $61.2B a year.

How it works

Our qualified professionals coach and educate your team to recognise your body’s warning signs that signal it’s time for a physical and mental reset. Delivered onsite, your team can put theory into action within their own work environment, which increases uptake and memorability while recruiting champions from within your team helps the change become part of the culture.

We understand every workplace is unique, so we use a 4-step approach to understand exactly where we need to focus.