Employee Health and Wellbeing - Lets get it right!

Having a solid understanding of employee health and wellbeing can be a huge advantage for employers. Not only can it ensure a sound workplace culture exists between management and employees, but it can also ensure that your business remains, profitable and productive, with reduced amounts of downtime.

Many businesses throughout Australia have adopted employee health and wellbeing programs into their HR strategies, with some businesses upping the ante on their duty of care to their employees, implementing ongoing health and wellbeing initiatives

Employee health and wellbeing – What does this involve and what are the benefits?

In terms of a definition, wellbeing is described as being a measure of a person’s psychological, emotional, and mental state. It is all about their internal levels of happiness and contentment.

With the rise of mental illness experienced by Australian’s increasing to levels that suggest up to one in six employees are suffering from a mental illness, companies are recognising and investing heavily in programs that promote a healthy workplace culture, assisting their staff to maintain good health and wellbeing.

Some of the benefits of health and wellbeing for employees within the workplace, equate to significant benefits for employers as well, and there are substantial benefits for businesses that have a solid understanding and ability to enhance the overall health and wellbeing. Some of these benefits include;

  • Increased longevity and retention of staff

  • Reduced training costs

  • Ability to attract the highest quality of applicants

  • Reduced stresses and conflict within the workplace

What you should be doing as a business owner?

As a business owner it is easy to brush aside health and wellbeing issues, and to have the view that these things are an individual issue rather than a workplace issue. However, This could not be further from the truth, with mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression costing Australian businesses an estimated $11-$12 billion dollars in each year. A truly staggering figure, but one which should set the alarm bells off to business owners, that this is in fact a problem they need to address.

As a business owner there are certainly a number of things that you can do to ensure that your employees health and wellbeing is maintained, with many employers adopting specific employee health and wellbeing programs into their HR strategies, taking an active interest in maintaining their employee health and wellbeing. Examples of some of these programs include;

  • Dedicated employee assistance programs;

  • Holding stand up meetings to discuss mental health issues, led by experts

  • Fitness groups, such as active sports programs, running, hiking, jogging

  • Regular staff social functions that promote socialisation and down time

  • Encouraging healthy eating and regular breaks within the workplace such as by offering dedicated areas for rest and fruit bowls for snacks

  • Flexible working arrangements

  • Yoga and meditation classes to promote mental health and wellbeing

By including these health and wellbeing activities into dedicated HR strategies business owners are able to manage and review the benefits of each of the programs and have access to accurate data which highlights participation rates and benefits received not just to the employees themselves but to the business as a whole.

What happens when business owners don’t make an effort to assist employee health and wellbeing

For employers who still aren’t convinced that employee mental health and wellbeing programs are beneficial to their business, perhaps hearing about some of the adverse consequences to businesses may change their viewpoint.

As previously mentioned, one of the largest consequences to a workplace where employees are suffering from poor mental health and well being is the financial costs incurred by the business. These costs relate to employee absenteeism, poor retention with high staff turnover rates, and the subsequent challenges that follow, which include increased HR costs of re-hiring and retraining new staff.

Employers may also open themselves up to additional consequences under legislation including the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth). Under the act an employer owes a duty of care to employees and is responsible for providing a safe working environment and safe systems of work. An employer also has a duty to protect employees from foreseeable injuries, which can include increase related to mental health and wellbeing. Penalties for failure to comply with legislative requirement can lead to employers paying large fines, in addition to having their reputation tarnished, being labelled an employer who doesn’t truly care about its employees, with employees able to initiate action against their employers through the Fair Work Commission. This is certainly not something that any business owners should be ok with.

Where can employers get support?

The Black Dog Institute is a great resource for employers and provides a variety of options in terms of workplace mental health and wellbeing programs and training. The type of training and support will vary greatly dependant upon the size of your business, the number of employees and whether or not there are any ongoing issues in which you as a business owner are trying to eliminate.

Additionally, the team at Dreamstone HR can provide up to date advice and assistance in implementing employee health and wellbeing strategies as part of your internal HR processes. Give our team a call today and take the first step in investing in the wellbeing of your staff.

Our team has extensive experience in HR strategy implementation for small businesses, right through to large corporations, so if you are looking for some advice on which employee health and wellbeing strategies may be best suited to your business, reach out to the team on (02) 8320 9320 or info@dreamstonehr.com.au.

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