Health & Wellbeing

Dec 12, 2023 11 min read

Health & Wellbeing in the Organization


Health and wellbeing are essential for both employees and organizations. They can improve productivity, performance, engagement, and resilience, as well as reduce stress, burnout, and turnover. However, many factors can affect the health and wellbeing of workers, such as the design of work, the work environment, the organizational culture, and the individual characteristics of employees.

In this article, we will explore some strategies that organizations can adopt to foster health and wellbeing among their workers, based on the latest research and best practices.

Give workers more control over how they do their work

Research indicates that having little discretion over how work gets done is associated not only with poorer mental health but also with higher rates of heart disease. Moreover, the combination of high work demands and low job control significantly increases the risks of diabetes and death from cardiovascular causes.

Therefore, organizations should empower their workers to have more autonomy and influence over their tasks, goals, methods, and pace of work. This can enhance their sense of ownership, responsibility, and satisfaction with their work. For example, a study in a customer service call center found that giving its employees more training so they could take on new tasks and resolve more customer complaints on their own improved both the employees’ well-being and their performance on the job.

Allow employees more flexibility about when and where they work

Flexibility is another key factor that can affect employee health and wellbeing. Flexibility can refer to the ability to adjust one’s work schedule, location, or hours to suit one’s personal or family needs. Flexibility can help employees balance their work and non-work roles, reduce commuting stress, and accommodate individual preferences and circumstances.

Research shows that flexibility can have positive effects on employee well-being, such as reducing psychological distress, enhancing work-life balance, increasing job satisfaction, and lowering absenteeism. However, flexibility should be implemented with clear expectations, communication, and support from managers and co-workers to avoid potential drawbacks such as isolation, role ambiguity, or overwork.

Increase the stability of workers’ schedules

While flexibility can be beneficial for some workers, stability can be equally important for others. Stability refers to the predictability and consistency of one’s work schedule. Many workers face unstable or irregular schedules that vary from week to week or day to day. This can create uncertainty, stress, and difficulty in planning for personal or family activities.

Research suggests that unstable schedules can have negative impacts on employee well-being, such as increasing anxiety, depression, sleep problems, and financial insecurity. Moreover, unstable schedules can also harm organizational outcomes such as productivity, quality, customer satisfaction, and retention.

Therefore, organizations should strive to provide stable schedules for their workers whenever possible. This can involve minimizing last-minute changes or cancellations of shifts, giving advance notice of schedules or changes, and allowing workers to have some input or choice over their schedules.

Provide employees with opportunities to identify and solve workplace problems

Another way to improve employee health and wellbeing is to involve them in identifying and solving workplace problems. This can enhance their sense of competence, creativity, and empowerment. It can also foster a culture of learning, innovation, and collaboration within the organization.

Research indicates that providing employees with opportunities to participate in decision making, problem solving, and continuous improvement can have positive effects on their well-being, such as increasing self-efficacy, motivation, and commitment. It can also improve organizational performance, such as enhancing quality, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.

For example, one work-redesign initiative at the IT division of a Fortune 500 firm generated a positive ROI for the company because it reduced turnover costs by involving employees in identifying and solving technical issues.

Keep your organization adequately staffed - so workloads are reasonable

One of the most common sources of stress for employees is excessive workload. Workload refers to the amount, complexity, and urgency of the tasks that one has to complete within a given time frame. Workload can affect employee health and wellbeing in various ways, such as increasing physical strain, mental fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and burnout.

Therefore, organizations should ensure that they have enough staff to handle the work demands without overburdening their employees. This can involve hiring more workers, redistributing tasks, outsourcing non-core activities, or automating routine processes. It can also involve setting realistic and clear expectations, priorities, and goals for employees, and providing them with adequate resources, tools, and support to accomplish their work.

Foster a supportive and inclusive work environment

The work environment can also have a significant impact on employee health and wellbeing. The work environment refers to the physical, social, and psychological aspects of the workplace that influence how employees feel and behave. Some of the key elements of a healthy work environment are:

  Physical safety: ensuring that the workplace is free from hazards, risks, and accidents that can harm employees’ health or well-being.

  Social support: providing employees with emotional, informational, or instrumental assistance from managers, co-workers, or other sources when they face work-related or personal challenges.

  Inclusivity: creating a culture of respect, diversity, and belonging where employees feel valued, accepted, and appreciated for who they are and what they contribute.

Research shows that a supportive and inclusive work environment can have positive effects on employee well-being, such as reducing stress, enhancing trust, and improving morale. It can also benefit organizational outcomes, such as increasing engagement, performance, and retention.

Promote healthy behaviors and lifestyles among employees

Finally, organizations can also improve employee health and wellbeing by promoting healthy behaviours and lifestyles among their workers. Healthy behaviours and lifestyles refer to the habits and choices that employees make regarding their physical and mental health, such as eating well, exercising regularly, sleeping enough, managing stress, and seeking help when needed.

Organizations can encourage and support healthy behaviours and lifestyles among their employees by providing them with various resources and incentives, such as:

  Health education: offering workshops, seminars, or online courses on topics such as nutrition, fitness, mindfulness, or mental health.

  Health screening: providing employees with access to regular check-ups, tests, or assessments to monitor their health status and identify any potential issues or risks.

  Health benefits: covering or subsidizing the costs of health insurance, medical care, or wellness programs for employees and their families.

  Health facilities: providing or facilitating access to on-site or nearby facilities such as gyms, fitness centers, or recreational areas where employees can exercise or relax.

  Health policies: implementing or enforcing policies that support or protect employee health, such as smoke-free workplaces, flexible sick leave, or reasonable working hours.

Research suggests that promoting healthy behaviours and lifestyles among employees can have positive effects on their well-being, such as improving physical fitness, mental health, and quality of life. It can also benefit organizational outcomes, such as reducing absenteeism, presentism, health care costs, and turnover.

Conclusion

Health and wellbeing are vital for both employees and organizations. By adopting the strategies outlined above, organizations can create positive working environments where individuals and organizations can thrive. Good health and wellbeing can be a core enabler of employee engagement and organizational performance.

     

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Comments (1)

SANDIPAN SEN

A very well-researched and informative article. Must read for all.

  • 04 Jan 2024

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