Essential Steps to Take to Improve Wellbeing in the Workplace
Ensuring the psychological health of your workers is part of an employer’s duty of care. And the costs for flouting this component are steep. In Australia, for instance, the cost of workers compensation claims related to work-related mental health conditions is about two and half times higher than that of other claims.
To improve wellbeing in the workplace, understand the attributes of a mentally healthy workplace
Employers themselves need to play an active role in maintaining the mental health and wellbeing of workers. Besides avoiding high compliance costs, employers who intervene proactively also stand to benefit from lower rates of absenteeism, as well as increased worker productivity, engagement, and loyalty. The question, though, is how.
For one, developing mentally healthy workplaces requires employers to understand the factors that contribute to such workplaces. Those factors include the following:
- Job design. Demands of the job, control in the work environment, resources provided, the level of work engagement, the characteristics of the job, and potential exposure to trauma.
- Team/group factors. Support from colleagues and managers, the quality of interpersonal relationships, effective leadership, and the availability of manager training.
- Organisational factors. Changes to the organisation, support from the organisation, recognising and rewarding work, how justice is perceived in an organisation, a psychosocial safety climate, positive organisational climate, and a safe physical environment.
- Home/work conflict. The degree to which conflicting demands from home, including significant life events, interfere with work.
- Individual biopsychosocial factors. Genetics, personality, early life events, cognitive and behavioural patterns, mental health history, lifestyle factors and coping style.
Practical steps to improve wellbeing in the workplace
Understanding the attributes of a mentally healthy workplace is only a start, though. Leadership must be committed to providing wellbeing programs the support they need to get off the ground or to get (existing programs) to the next level.
To this end, leadership should deputise wellbeing committees, including representatives from Safety and HR, to conduct situational analyses of the current state of wellbeing in the workplace. Measurement tools available to such committees might include data coming from or related to the following sources:
- Sickness absence
- Work-related psychological injuries
- Return to work rates
- Exit interviews
- Staff turnover rates
- Audits of existing mental health policies and procedures
- Focus groups of employees
- Surveys of employee engagement
- Audits of existing leadership and management training
- Examinations of the mental health strategies of similar organisations
- External expert advice and best practices from psychologically healthy workplace programs
- Recognition of upcoming organisational change
Gathering and synthesising that data is only a first step to take to improve wellbeing in the workplace. With the blessing of senior leadership, wellbeing committees must proceed to abstract from the data to identify and implement the appropriate intervention strategies for the workplace.
Organisations shouldn’t simply implement interventions without follow up, though. Committees must review outcomes and adjust intervention strategies along the way.
If that sounds like a lot, it doesn’t have to. Tools for maintaining a comprehensive view of the wellbeing of your workers, like Noggin software for work safety, can help. To try Noggin’s employee health and wellbeing capabilities out for yourself, request a demo.