Given the amount of time we spend working, our working environment plays a vital role in our health and wellbeing. It has a direct influence on our motivation and goals from the moment we walk through the door.
Creating a safe and healthy work environment can be tricky for any business or employer. There are numerous hurdles and challenges to overcome in order to build a positive and stimulating workplace that brings the best out of everyone and places a strong focus on employee wellbeing.
The average UK employee works approximately 90,000 hours, or one-third of their lifetime. That’s a lot of time, so it’s important workers are happy, safe, and supported in their working environment. Research from Aero Healthcare, a first aid global leader has found that a safe and healthy work environment can improve productivity, reduce workplace injuries and sickness absences plus associated costs, and deliver other benefits that extend to wider social groups and communities. The World Health Organisation describes a healthy working environment as one where “there is not only an absence of harmful conditions (that can cause injury and illness) but an abundance of health-promoting ones.” There’s strong evidence to suggest that good work models within safe and healthy environments provide numerous physical and mental wellbeing benefits for employees including a reduction in stress and anxiety. It can offer job security, open new social networks, provide a salary to meet basic living needs and give people a genuine purpose. A safe and healthy work environment is the cornerstone of any thriving organisation.
Advantages of creating a safe and healthy environment:
- Improved health and wellbeing
- Increased productivity
- Higher performance
- Job satisfaction
- Better staff retention
- Greater work participation
- Increased social inclusion
- Lower absenteeism
- Less workplace injury and workers’ compensation claims
- Faster return to work
Studies have shown that sickness absences and worklessness in the UK amount to approximately £100 billion annually, while 131 million working days are lost to sickness absence alone. Therefore, the importance of a safe and healthy work environment can’t be underestimated. It is not only good for employees, but also vital to business productivity, success, staff retention, and profits. It’s a workplace where management and employees work in unison to promote healthy activities and actions that keep a workforce safe, well, and engaged.
Further research from Aero Healthcare has discovered a range of companies renowned for delivering a safe and healthy work environment.
Maintaining a healthy work culture with a focus on wellbeing has helped numerous businesses succeed. It’s this approach that lies behind the success of Cisco. The global technology leader claimed the top spot in the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For 2022 thanks to an inclusive work culture, social impact grants, and signature programs.
The family-run jewellery retailer Beaverbrooks is renowned for its people-focused approach to business that earned it the top place in the UK’s 100 Best Companies to Work For List 2021. As well as charity donations and activities, the company places a strong emphasis on a collaborative culture and open communication.
Diageo has also been hugely successful in creating a safe and healthy work environment for employees. The leading beer and spirits manufacturer is a champion of diversity, inclusion, and equal opportunities which help drive business in 180 countries in which it operates. It achieves a positive work culture through collaboration, healthcare benefits, and open communication.
Online bank Monzo prioritises employees’ mental and physical wellbeing by offering paid sick leave for both physical and mental health reasons, as well as providing an employee assistance programme and flexible working hours. By implementing these changes in 2019, Monzo was named the 2019 Top Start-up to Work At by LinkedIn followed by the coveted Best British Bank title in 2022.
Inspiring employees and driving engagement is a key focus for professional services company Ernst & Young. They created a wellness scheme to support employees in the workplace and at home. This includes medical benefits, fitness and sports subsidies, mindfulness, and sleep therapy. Ernst & Young also prides itself on flexibility and allows all employees to work from home two days a week for a better work-life balance.
There are many steps organisations can take to create a safe and healthy workplace. These include:
- Promoting good work design: Safety in design places a strong focus on potential hazards and risks in the workplace. This will minimise the possibility of work-related injuries and illnesses and create a safe and healthy environment.
- Supporting workplace health and safety management: Managing potential sources of harm such as high work demands and low levels of control can benefit all workers and create the right working environment. An effective workplace health and safety management system can greatly reduce the risk of injury and illness resulting from workplace operations.
- Spotting the warning signs: Early intervention for injured or ill employees will support their recovery and return to work. If an employee is showing potential signs of ill health or injury, the sooner you intervene the better. The longer someone is off, the less likely they are to return to the workplace.