How HR Can Promote Employee Health
By Jori Hamilton
Image source Unsplash
August 11 2021 - If the COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything, it was the value of a healthy workforce. While mask policies and social distancing guidelines were completely new ideas, the pandemic also reminded us about the importance of safety precautions that we should have been following all along, such as the necessity to wash hands, the importance of mental health, and creating a clean work environment, among others.
As the human resources team at your company, it becomes your responsibility to provide the proper programs and instill necessary measures to ensure that your staff is happy, healthy, and that they can leave at the end of the day in the same condition in which they arrived. To aid in this endeavor, we have provided some tips and guidance for pushing your company in the right direction.
Implement New Programs
The first thing that many HR departments often think of when it comes to employee health is providing comprehensive health insurance so their teams can get the medical help they need if the time comes. It is important to provide an insurance package that is affordable in addition to offering support for dental, vision, and mental health services, such as access to a therapist if necessary.
A great benefit of many health programs is a wellness aspect that incentivizes employees to be active in order to meet specific fitness goals. If the objectives are met, they would then get a discount on their monthly premiums. The HR team could even host activities that encourage physical movement, such as creating a baseball team or a group walk for charity.
Speaking of wellness, HR would be wise to also put new guidelines in place that would provide employees more chances to get up from their desks and move about so they can get a bit of physical exercise during the day. Sitting for long periods can lead to back pain and increase the chances of chronic illness, including high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. The programs put in place to help with these potential conditions could be as simple as allowing more breaks per day or providing everyone with standing desks so they can keep the blood flowing throughout their shift.
By implementing policies that allow workers to stay in good shape while still conducting their responsibilities, you will have a more productive workforce that truly appreciates the efforts put forth by their employer.
Never Forget Mental Health
It is also incredibly important to add a mental health component to your wellness programs because happy employees are generally more productive and will stay with the organization for longer. As a start, HR needs to have an open-door policy where anyone from the company is invited to express any concerns they may have without judgment. Employees should be able to come to the office and know that their concerns will truly be heard and that action will be taken.
One way HR can help improve employee mental health is by encouraging flexible scheduling; this allows employees a healthier work/life balance. While work is important, it is only one aspect of an employee’s life as they also have families, kids to take care of, and medical issues from time to time. It is important to allow your workers an easy route if they need to call off or leave early. Thus, flexible schedules are key. If you can allow an employee to start their shift later in the day so they can help send their kids to school, they will be grateful for the company's understanding and work harder as a result.
It is also important to monitor the workload of your staff to ensure that they are not being overworked or lacking productivity. If it appears that an employee is falling short of their goals, then instead of giving them a write-up, ask what has changed to create this shift. If it is something outside of work that is bothering them or even a physical injury, it is important to address those concerns accordingly so the employee can return to their regular routine. If an employee is being overworked, efforts should be made to share their responsibilities with another staff member so quality is maintained in your products, in addition to quantity.
Prevent Physical Dangers
In addition to creating programs to encourage employee health overall, the proper precautions should be made to ensure that the office or warehouse environment is also safe. Employee education is key in this matter as every person working on the floor needs to know how to work with the equipment properly and without issue. Management should host meetings every morning to allow time for employee concerns and to explain reporting processes, such as what to do when they see a danger or who to report to if someone is injured on the job.
A great way to cover all necessary safety topics is to consider and speak to the staff about the most common job injuries and how to avoid them. Slips and falls continue to be a major pain point, so remind the staff to always clean spills immediately and put signage in place to warn others, which HR can provide. Warehouse and construction environments can be particularly dangerous as far as falling objects, loud noises, and electrocution are concerned, so train your staff on those dangers as well.
Your HR team should also make it a point to provide the staff with the proper safety equipment so they can conduct their work without fear of injury. That includes providing goggles, ear protection, hard hats, and masks, among many other industry-specific precautions. Fear of COVID-19 may also still be a factor, so providing masks and hand sanitizing stations should continue to be a priority.
As members of the human resources team, you are the first line of defense when it comes to employee safety and satisfaction. Consider the programs and tips above and create a happy workforce that will bring your company to the next level.
Jori Hamilton is a freelance writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of subjects but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to business productivity, recruitment, HR, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.