Employees working in industrial environments face many Health, Safety and Environmental challenges. Managers are tasked with ensuring that employee performance is at its best, which is only possible by making sure that workers are healthy, alert, and ready to perform their roles at a high level. So much priority is placed upon Safety and Environmental stewardship that general employee health can feel like an afterthought or just not command the attention it deserves. Following are three important areas of focus for industrial managers to help keep employee Health as a priority in your company culture.
1. Build a Health-Conscious Workplace Culture
One of the most important factors in the health and safety of employees is the workplace culture cultivated by their employer. If it is clear to your employees that you value a healthy and productive workforce, they will tend to view these as important qualities, as well. Employers often underestimate just how much influence they can have in forming their workplace culture and the lives of their employees (even outside of work).
Employers should encourage healthy behavior in general. This can take a variety of forms, from giving employees opportunities to express their concerns to encouraging healthy behaviors and rewarding personal health goals. Create and maintain a workplace “ buzz” around health campaigns such as rewarding weight loss goals, sponsorship of company teams in local fitness events, posting and celebrating employee health accomplishments. By capitalizing on employee concerns for their own health and the health of those they work with, managers can go a long way toward ensuring that the workplace is constantly increasing in general health and associated productivity.
The most important part of this process is making sure that your employees feel comfortable expressing their health goals and keeping general health as a topic of discussion. If employees do not feel like they will be heard or worse that managers don’t want to waste energy on the health conversation, they will tend to keep quiet and the positive chatter will die down. A lack of public enthusiasm makes it increasingly difficult to improve the health of a workforce. To help make your employees more comfortable generating a buzz, make sure to give them both formal and informal opportunities to contribute. A good way to invite employee contributions is to form a “Health & Activity Committee.” Invite people who are eager to lead and zealous for the cause to lead the committee with the express purpose of generating participation from the general employee base; and don’t neglect their families.
2. Ensure Employees Have Sound Training
As with Safety and Environmental compliance, proper employee training is vital to the health of employees in any workplace. Be sure to include personal health topics in your Health, Safety and Environmental training. Examples of topics that deserve attention are the impact of diet on weight control; the benefits of daily exercise routine; proper hydration; the impact of tobacco and alcohol over time.
Routinely provide health data to employees designed to encourage moving to a more healthy lifestyle. This will provide reference materials to refresh themselves on various best practices and encourage healthy choices by individuals at the their own pace.
Check with your employees regularly on what topics they might find of interest. Make sure to ask them for feedback on any health benefits they have experienced over time; weight loss, lower blood pressure, feeling better, more energy.
3. Take Employee Health Seriously
Our workplaces tend to support the axiom, “ hard drives out soft.” It means some hard requirements will always take priority over less pressing activities. The focus on General Employee Health tends to get pushed around by the more regulatory controlled issues of Environmental and Safety compliance. But Employee Health should be taken seriously. Employee Health has a direct correlation to business costs, productivity, safety performance, and employee engagement. A more physically fit workforce will be more productive with lower incidence of lost time.
Both your Health Benefits and Workmans Comp providers, whether a large in house team or independent provider, can serve as great resources for training materials, health data, and benefits to both the company and the individuals. Take Employee Health seriously for a real benefit to both the company and your employees.