According to the World Health Organisation, health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Going from the above definition, we understand that health isn’t just about being physically ok, but the mental and social aspects of an individual must be well too. If one is socially or mentally not feeling well, one isn’t healthy. So, when looking at the health of your workers, it’s not enough to implement the government’s safety measures that are stipulated for your type of business. Measures that guarantee only the physical health of your employees depending on the sector they work in. But you should also investigate the other aspects of the health of the people working for and with you, including your potential customers.
A business that prioritises the health of its workers is one that endeavours not only to put all the safety and precautionary measures in place to avoid accidents or other occupational diseases in the short and long term but also ensures the mental and social well-being of the workers are considered a priority.
When setting up a business, the values of the founder(s) must be well spelt out from the onset. They can be adjusted with time, but those values must be clear to everyone coming into the organisation. One of such values should be that the health of every member is a priority. So, workers must know that the company prioritises their health and expects them to prioritise the health of their co-workers as they carry out their jobs.
Indeed, a business may not be a family because its objectives are mostly profit-oriented unlike the objectives of a normal family would have. However, any business that doesn’t take the health aspect of its components serious will eventually lose. For instance, providing personal protective equipment for your employees may seem costly in the beginning, but when neglected, the losses the business would incur would outweigh whatever savings in the event of injuries or any fatality.
The tips in this article won’t include all the safety measures prescribed by the government in the areas of Occupational safety and health. Some of these measures are costless for you as a business owner.
Advantages of prioritising health in the workplace
Prioritising the health of your employees comes with its advantages. They include the following:
1. Saves money in the long run.
Although when health is discussed, cost shouldn’t be an issue, however, a business has limited financial resources, and so things need to be properly organised to optimise cost. When appropriate health measures are put in place, they may cost some money today, but the gain in the long term would be well worth it. You’ll save in insurance premiums, paid sick leaves, loss of expertise when you need them.
2. Prioritising health builds a harmonious working environment
This is both a cause and effect of prioritising the health of your co-workers. An environment where every component values the physical, mental, and social well-being of others would be harmonious. A harmonious environment would encourage the health of its constituents.
3. Customer Attraction
Attracts and retains customers who know that you value their health. When you prioritise the health of your workers, caring for the health and safety of your customers would be a natural inexorable extension. And customers would be attracted and retained whenever they feel and know that their health is valued by the business they patronise.
4. Customers pay for your values
Sometimes we tend to think that customers are only attracted to the good product we sell to them and our customer service. While these former items are important, we should never forget that customers consciously and unconsciously love businesses that have sound values, especially when these values include prioritising the health of their workers. So, taking the health of your co-workers serious speaks to your values and customers will certainly be drawn to your business in the long run.
Jesus told the disciples that as they love another and maintain oneness, the world outside would interpret that harmony and oneness as a sign that Christ had sent them. That value will draw men towards them. So, when your company values incorporate the health of its workers, customers notice and want to patronise you more.
5. Workers become aware of their health and the health of others
When a worker always has his safety gears readily available and replaced when needed, participates in health workshops, organises meetings where health suggestions are shared, he is most likely to implement some of those things at home. They take their health more seriously and would go for regular medical check-ups.
6. Better outputs
A healthy employee will give her best and will most likely have a healthy family. Outputs surge when workers are in their best physical, mental, and social health. So, you’re gaining by investing in the health of your employees.
7. Reduced disease burden on the community and nation
The community and indeed the nation will benefit because the money spent yearly on healthcare would be less or at least be better spent on certain health conditions that aren’t preventable.
Tips on how to build and promote health in the workplace
Here are some tips that you can apply to build a workplace that prioritises the health of your workers.
1. Follow Occupational safety and health administration prescriptions
Following the public health prescriptions on safety in the workplace is the first step toward creating a healthy environment. So, all the personal protective equipment must be supplied to each worker based on the peculiarity of the sector, and other measures in the workplace must be implemented.
2. Focus on healthy products and services
Healthy measures begin with the products you make in the first place – the substances used in the manufacture of the product or provision of the services, its health impacts, etc send a signal to your workers and of course, your consumers. Care should be taken to make healthy products and advances in knowledge of the substances used should be taken into consideration.
3. Proper waste disposal
Disposal of wastes must be taken seriously. In the end, the wastes disposed of, whether close to the workplace or distant eventually affects the community, region, or nation. So, while finding a business, think of the wastes you produce and how you’d dispose of them properly.
4. Respect and value for others’ opinions – mental health
Your organisation may not have a horizontal structure where everyone is on the ‘same level’, but you must inculcate the attitude of listening to other opinions into the workers, especially those that have responsibilities. When an opinion is listened to and probably acted upon if its advantages, that helps both the mental and social states of the proponent. So, make listening to inputs from co-workers an organisational culture.
5. Encourage Teamwork
Teamwork targets the social health of people. Make certain ideas or projects involve working in a team. Constant interactions and exchange of ideas on how to execute a plan foster respect for one another and healthy work-related relationships. So, encourage teamwork. There’s something healthy about talking together and working together.
While on teamwork, still allow for individual initiatives as this builds the confidence and mental health of the person.
6. Eliminate the use or consumption of harmful substances from the workplace
For instance, enforcing a no-smoking culture at work or creating a dedicated space for it. Eliminating alcohol from the menu in the canteen and banning alcohol drinking before coming to and after work.
7. Have a canteen that serves healthy food
If your business has a canteen for the workers, ask the staff in the restaurant to go for healthy meals instead of junk. This will help the workers be healthy but will also inculcate healthy eating in them; a habit they can export to their homes in the long run.
8. Encourage breaks during work
Every business has a target but delivering on our targets may force us to overtask our workers that in the achievement of such targets we sacrifice their health. The aim should be to maintain good health while hitting all the targets. When a worker is sound, he is more likely to do better than when he breaks down. So, encourage breaks and time off when necessary.
9. Make health part of your company’s values
Every person coming into the organisation should know the company’s values, and health should be on that list from the onset.
10. Clean habitable environment
The environment must be cleaned as often as it’s necessary. The heating and cooling systems must be properly titrated to suit the well-being of those working in each space.
11. Ergonomic working tools
Provide ergonomic desks and chairs. Proper lighting must be considered especially when people work indoors for long, behind a computer or other electronic devices. Because inadequate (too little and too much) lightening affects the sight in the long run.
12. Encourage remote or smart working
If someone is sick or unable to come to work, develop a system that while the person is on sick paid leave, he or she can still be productive. Work isn’t just about earning a living; it also gives us a sense of fulfilment as we see that we are productively doing things we like.
13. Group Initiatives
Initiatives like a day to run, like on Saturday with co-workers and their families. Print t-shirts or aprons that will be used each day to create awareness on a given disease or some work-related health messages.
14. Make everyone feel desired and valued
You employed people because you believe they’d add value to your business, not because you were merely doing them a favour. So, the least you can do is to make them feel desired and valued in your organisation. It goes beyond listening to their opinion but in your daily interaction with them.
15. Kind Gestures
Simple things like bringing a gift, leaving a card, a mail, a Christmas, or Easter bonus, paid vacation and other kind gestures gender love and peace in the workplace and affects health too. Incentives as well can go a long way for some workers.
16. Health seminars/workshops
Invite public and occupational health experts to give health talks to your team on both safety rules to keep in the workplace and little precautions that would be helpful. But also have seminars that give some health tips to your workers. I’m sure they’d appreciate learning some health tips on nutrition, body hygiene, certain signs and symptoms that are often ignored etc.
17. Employ or assign someone to oversee health in your business
This person has the responsibility of coming up with ideas and implementing ideas that would bolster the health of the co-workers. The ideas could come from you, himself, or other co-workers in the organisation. That is an eloquent sign that the value you place on the health of your workers isn’t just on paper, but you’re very intentional that you set up an office for that.
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