In the old days, employers were reluctant to look after their workers. Employees were responsible for conducting their own affairs. If they were worried about coming to work for some reason, they could always work for another company.
Today, though, things look very different. Firms are starting to realize that taking a hands-off or antagonistic to employee wellbeing isn’t a good idea.
There are several reasons for this.
First and foremost, safety and loss prevention can get very expensive. If a colleague injures themselves at work, the company is liable. Payment goes to the worker via the insurance company. And then the premiums that the firm has to pay go up. The more accidents there are, the further they rise until the costs for covering injury become one of the most substantial expenses.
The second reason is that it increases the rate of turnover. Employees don’t just stand around, waiting to get injured before they leave your enterprise. Pain, disability, and disfigurements are the last things they want. So when they get the sense you don’t really care about their wellbeing, they start looking for employment opportunities elsewhere. It’s better to find another company with slightly lower pay than to stick with you and risk permanent loss of quality of life.
The third reason is that it creates a bad workplace culture. When managers see workers as disposable, it makes them treat them worse, which hurts happiness and also craters productivity.
When you look after the people in your organization, though, the opposite happens. Workers stick with you for longer. They’re not tempted to file lawsuits (mainly because they’re not getting injured). And they help to create a more positive workplace culture.
Ultimately, all of this stands to benefit you, especially the workplace culture aspect. When people love the companies for which they work, they’re much more likely to put in the hard work you need to make the enterprise a success. If they’re always worried about the next machine that’s going to rip off their hand, they won’t put in the effort and are more willing to slack off.
Looking after your employees is easy. The first step is to put a rigorous health and safety policy in place. Not only do you want a document that covers your back, but you also want to put in place daily sessions that reinforce your key safety messages.
Retailers do this all the time. They’ll gather everyone up in the morning and remind them of the essential rules, such as staying two meters away from fork-lift trucks in the backroom.
Next, you need to find ways to look after their emotional wellbeing. Hard work isn’t necessarily a problem. Most employees are okay with it, so long as they get support. The real issue in the workplace is what Google calls “psychological safety.” If people feel under threat when they walk into the office, they’ll be unhappy and eventually leave.
Finally, you’ll want to actively promote wellness activities. Closing the office after six, for instance, could encourage people to go home and relax.