No one goes to work expecting to come home less healthy. Yet for many, that’s exactly what happens. Workplace injuries, or worse, are more common than we might think.
OSHA reports that 5,147 workers were killed on the job in 2017. On average, that is nearly 99 a week or more than 14 deaths every day. While worker deaths are significantly down from about 38 worker deaths a day in 1970, the devastated families directly impacted won’t care about declining trends. Additionally, there were approximately 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses reported by private industry employers in 2017.
Physical safety is often a part of the culture in industries where injuries are common such as construction, manufacturing, and health care. There are laws that govern workplace safety and hazard removal. Yet despite these measures, many people continue to come home from work less healthy.
The well-being of employees in the workplace is impacted by more than safety hazards. Bullying, harassment or psychological abuse, not to mention the excessive stress from unreasonable workloads or long working hours, can all take a toll.
Over the past two decades, we have seen the continued growth of workplace well-being programs. In 2017, the Kaiser Family Foundation Employer Health Benefits Report revealed that 58% percent of small firms and 85% of large firms offer a program in at least one of these areas: smoking cessation, weight management, and behavioral or lifestyle coaching. Yet according to The American Institute of Stress, 40% of workers reported their job was very or extremely stressful and 25% view their job as the number one stressor in their lives. While more employers are taking employee well-being seriously, it seems we still have a long way to go.
Employers need to recognize that the well-being of their workforce is not just a strategy, it is a responsibility. In his book Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family, Barry-Wehmiller CEO, Bob Chapman states, “…it dawned on us that every person who comes to work each day is someone’s precious child. And we realized they we could have a greater inspirational impact on people than any other organization if we were good stewards of their lives... We didn’t do it because we wanted to be recognized as the best place to work in America. We did it because our deepest sense of right and responsibly was awakened by these simple profound insights.”
Every leader can adopt the view that Bob Chapman and his team have adopted.
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Develop a comprehensive workplace well-being strategy that addresses all aspects of the employee experience.
- Embrace a mind of openness and willingness to examine every aspect of your organization’s culture. You may be surprised at what you see and learn.
- Work to create a psychologically healthy workplace, which includes healthy practices in the following five categories: employee involvement, work-life balance, employee growth and development, health and safety, and employee recognition. Conversely, a negative or toxic work environment can lead to numerous physical and mental health problems including depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Consider every person who comes to work in your workplace every day as a precious asset. We have a responsibility to begin caring for them that way.