Strategies to Improve Health in the Workplace

stress management

Dr. Purushothaman
June 1, 2015

Employers are increasingly seeking ways of improving their employees’ health and wellbeing in the workplace. This is largely due to recent evidence that proves a healthy and happy workforce has higher productivity and a lasting positive effect on a company’s bottom line.

Unfortunately, many workers continue to fall sick, resulting in absenteeism and reduced performance, as well as high healthcare expenses on the part of employers.

Workplace ailments

Workers are exposed to various risks and ailments depending on the industries they serve. However, stress and anxiety have risen to become the bane of modern day workplaces, eclipsing other common conditions affecting workers, such as back problems, musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive strain injuries.

Employees from a diverse range of industries experience both stress and anxiety. These conditions are mostly attributed to an excessive workload, long or irregular working hours, poor management styles and hostile work environments. Additionally, workers experiencing problems at home are likely to carry these issues to the workplace, contributing to stress.

Left unchecked, stress not only has a detrimental effect on an individual employee’s wellbeing but also affects team morale and dynamics. Stressed workers may find it difficult to focus on their work and often have short tempers and poor concentration – qualities that may not endear them to their coworkers. They may take long hours off work, leaving others to handle their duties and responsibilities. All these can lead to resentment among other workers, especially if allowed to continue without being addressed.

Addressing the problem

Some employers can be tempted to ignore stress and other workplace ailments, dismissing them as issues affecting individuals. This is the wrong approach to take. Tackling the problem requires heavy investment on the part of employers and dedication and discipline among employees.

Stressed workers are a danger not only to themselves but also to their colleagues. These individuals may turn to substance abuse to cope with their stress. This may include increased alcohol consumption as well as the use of illicit drugs. Such substances can lead to errors in judgment, increased carelessness and a disregard for safety rules at work. Other than failing to fulfill their obligations at work, employees with substance abuse issues can place their workmates in potentially hazardous situations, especially if working in the transport or construction industries. Their careless actions can also result in their employer paying more workers’ compensation and disability claims.

It is therefore important for all employees to come up with effective and sound strategies to improve their employees’ health as well as curb substance abuse in the workplace. One way of doing this is by enacting workplace drug testing policies. These policies need to be communicated to all employees to enlist their support. Non-invasive, user-friendly drug testing methods, such as oral fluid testing or hair sampling, are likely to be more acceptable due to their discreet nature.

Wellness programs are also guaranteed to boost employee health, performance and productivity. Employers should take time to develop programs that are appropriate for their workers. These programs could include exercise regimens, employee counseling and retreats.

Since every employer dreams of building a highly engaged workforce, it is prudent for them to enact health strategies that are both attractive and sustainable for their employees.

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