It’s that time of year again… as Winter drags on into Spring, everyone seems to be falling victim to the cold or flu (which has an uncanny knack of spreading itself around the office). This makes it an ideal time to think about how you can best manage wellbeing in your workplace – how to promote good health, and manage ill health.
Ill health comes in many forms. It can be the flu, mild or acute depression or anxiety (diagnosed or not), even a cancer diagnosis or something equally daunting in both prospects and treatment. Given the prevalence of these illnesses, it’s highly likely that you’re dealing with at least one of them right now.
So, what are your obligations as employers? And how can you reduce the impact of ill health on your employees and your business? Here are some practical risk management tips that you can put into practice straight away:
Know your staff. Initiate conversations with your employees that take a real interest in their welfare. Conversation starters like, ‘Are you okay?’ and ‘We know this is a difficult time for you, how can we make it easier for you to return to full health?’ encourages staff to be transparent about their wellbeing and acknowledges that they’re valuable members of your team. This can have a ripple effect by opening up a dialogue in your workplace about what you can do to improve, promote and protect the health of your staff. It’s all about knowing what your staff want and understanding what will make the greatest difference to their wellbeing at work. Asking, and listening, pays huge dividends.
Insulate your workplace by having a wellbeing plan in place that includes easy-to-implement, low-cost measures that your employees agree will make them feel better and work more productively, such as:
- providing government-funded or subsidised flu vaccinations;
- systematically reviewing and managing workloads;
- encouraging appropriate meal breaks or opportunities to move around (e.g. walking meetings);
- encouraging the taking of accrued personal leave when required and regular annual leave for full rest and recovery;
- ensuring your premises have good lighting and ventilation;
- providing ergonomic workstations;
- promoting public-transport incentives; and
- supporting extracurricular activities that promote physical wellbeing.
Obviously, the number of measures you can implement will depend on your budget and staff size, but it’s the little things, carried out consistently, that make the biggest difference.
Lead by example. Illuminate (shine a light on) your own health and wellbeing. We’re all fallible, and it’s good for your staff to know that. Discussing your own challenges gives your employees license to do the same. Thanking employees for staying home when they’re unwell also promotes a healthy work environment and mitigates against a culture of ‘pushing through the pain’ (which inevitably results in the spread of disease). Proactively and continually illuminate employee benefits that focus on wellbeing, and encourage ideas for improvement on the current offerings. Having them tucked away in a policy page is useless.
As you can see, it’s not rocket science. These basic steps can be easily and quickly implemented without breaking the bank – it’s just about turning your mind to it and actually doing it. Don’t avoid it like the doctors… we all know what happens when we do that! So, give wellbeing in your workplace the attention it deserves, and you and your staff will reap the rewards.