Employee health and safety are top of mind for corporations and organizations around the world right now. The COVID-19 public health emergency put a spotlight on employee health, but this was already an ongoing discussion pre-pandemic. And it will continue to be relevant in the months (and years) to come, as employees return to the workplace and as new policies and standards are put in place moving beyond the pandemic.
From a risk mitigation perspective, employee health is about more than just preventing workplace injuries. It’s about encouraging a culture of safety and wellness. Healthy employees take fewer sick days, and injury prevention improves company culture while also preventing expensive litigation.
So, what’s trending in workplace health and safety? What are employers doing to keep employees healthy?
Successful employee safety and wellness initiatives start with – and emphasize – employee involvement. According to OccupationalHealth & Safety (OH&S) Magazine, successful “organizations focusing on workplace safety emphasize educating their employees.” OH&S warns, though that some companies miss the mark when they only focus on educating and training newly hired employees. Instead, they recommend training and engaging all employees. Whether you’re implementing new equipment that requires safety certification for users, or you’re introducing a new policy to keep employees healthy, you need to get all of your staff involved and on board – and refresh training periodically to ensure that everyone is up to date with the knowledge they need to stay safe and healthy.
In a statement about its commitment to employee health and wellness, Nestle states that it is “committed to offering good nutrition, contributing to balanced lives and to supporting a thriving planet. We apply that same duty of care to the people behind the products.” In this statement,Nestle not only implies that it is focused on employee health and safety, but it actually makes employee health and wellness an integral part of its core values. The statement goes on to read, “We believe healthy employees are happier, more engaged and the best ambassadors for our purpose and values.”
Of course, statements and commitments look good on paper, but they’re not enough. Companies must follow through on those commitments.Nestle, for example, has implemented a program to encourage employees to develop healthy habits by incentivizing healthy breaks for activities like guided yoga practices and step competitions.
Finally, one of the most effective tools used by a lot of companies is a simple rewards system for safe and healthy behavior. While training and education help equip employees to behave safely, rewards keep them engaged in safety programs and general safe behavior. And you can apply that to health and wellness programs, as well. Companies are increasing employee engagement with corporate wellness by giving insurance discounts for employees who complete healthy activities. Those small incentives are a small price to pay for the massive benefits that come with encouraging and emphasizing a safe and healthy workforce.