Workplace well-being: Investing in the intangibles
As an entrepreneur, your role is to lead, inspire and set the tone for workplace well-being. Your accounting system may not measure the effects of employee health on your bottom line, but you know that employee well-being makes for a more productive workplace.
Many factors contribute to making the workplace a stress-free zone, some of which may be under your control. Good air quality, adequate lighting and optimal ergonomics can help prevent job strain. Adjust the noise level by installing sound absorbent materials or even approving the use of earphones.
A healthy corporate culture with positive values can also go a long way towards creating a good atmosphere. Do your employees feel they need to work longer hours in order to advance or even keep their jobs? If you take breaks and vacations, your employees will feel more comfortable taking theirs.
The work itself might lead to stress or job strain, but perhaps some changes could be made. If you can't affect work relationships, financial gain and job security, there might be more leeway in other areas, such as:
- Duties – Can you adjust the high demands of a heavy workload? Are there obstacles that prevent employees from getting the work done?
- Schedules – Can you implement flexibility in terms of shifts, overtime and job-related travel?
- Technology – Do your employees turn off their mobile devices?
- Workplace change – Is there a process in place to help manage change?
- Job content – Can variety be added?
Implementing a supportive policy is not enough; leaders within your business also need to share in the responsibility of employee well-being. Working together to prevent physical and mental health problems such as illness and burnout should be a common workplace goal. You can help by:
- Adopting positive values and making respect a priority
- Planning effectively to control workloads
- Supporting work-life balance
- Implementing an employee assistance plan
Workplace well-being allows employees to make meaningful contributions and develop to their full potential. Fewer sick days, less absenteeism and reduced turnover can only result in a win-win situation for everyone.
Health Canada has some excellent resources (link no longer valid) for more information. As well, explore our section on Leadership skills and previous blogs on workplace health and retaining employees.
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