In our 21st century, accompanied by the rise of technology, has been the subsequent societal obsession with efficiency, quality, and perfection. As a result, it has become easier for modern companies to overlook the health and wellbeing of the workplace in favor of profit margins and revenue.
Despite this trend, consumers and the general populace have become far more aware of the importance and ubiquity of mental illness and the irreparable impact this not only has on productivity but on the future condition of each human being. The core issue revolves around the ambiguity of the term wellbeing in the context of enterprise and the role of businesses to look after issues that may conflict with their employees’ privacy.
According to Conrad, the average employee spends one-third of his or her waking hours at work, not including time spent outside of denoted hours likely preparing, pondering, or reflecting. For many, work done is not limited to the workplace itself. The health of workers is especially important for every corporation, as employees not only serve as representatives of their workplace, but they also are key determinants in the productivity and future of the corporation.
Despite the abilities of business to yield influence over an employee’s wellness, this influence remains limited to work-related affairs. Their abilities to affect the health of an individual holds no bearing over an employee’s personal life, though has been concluded that one’s work and personal lives are largely overlapping entities, often with reciprocal effects on each other.
It is imperative that corporations heed the growing consumer concerns of detrimental ergonomics and neglected health awareness in the workplace not only for the workers involved but for the overall wellbeing of the business.
The most common workplace grievances revolve around general aggression, violence, vengeance, and, as most evidently dominating the media today, sexual harassment. These often arise as a result of the lack of substantial health ordinances and even neglect of work design issues regarding employee care and basic ergonomics.
Additionally, the rigid hierarchical approach to management has been significantly implicated in health consequences as well, falling under the risk factors of unhealthy boss-subordinate relationships. The implications of Type A and similar traits embodying a prevailing sense of outward aggression is necessary for career advancement hinders the complacent culture of nearly every workplace and can harm the future success of a business.
The cost of diminished health, for all involved, remains far too substantial. For a company, employees succumbing to poor workplace conditions and a toxic environment may become more absent from their work, curtail their productivity, and exhibit lower quality decision-making abilities.
As a result, in present-day United States, the costs for job-related injuries and illness match those of occupational cancer or heart disease and far surmounted the price of AIDS or Alzheimer’s, a staggering depiction of the prevalence of occupational hazards in workplace culture and evident risk to employees globally.
However, with current trends turning greater focus onto individuality and welfare, society continues to see vast improvements in shifting away from negligence on behalf of large scale corporations in favor of the “guaranteed workplace free from recognizable hazard,” a landmark statement of the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) passed in 1970.
A common denominator in seeking a solution is often resorting to incentivizing safety reporting, leading to the perceived promotion of covering up dangers lurking within management, according to the motive of a previously launched OSHA investigation. It is in this result, ironically, that it seems the promotion of safety has led to an increase in workplace hazards due to the “structural changes in the U.S. economy”.
This can actively be combated by an egalitarian approach to safety, where it is known and accepted on a company-wide level that safety is “an integral part of every employee’s job and that it must start from the top down, with senior management’s commitment and responsibility, as it increases adoption and acceptance from all employees”.
Despite strategic advantages in promoting a healthy work culture for a business agenda, the key to a successful implementation of safety and wellness plans is derived from a true and genuine emotional connection with employees. Ultimately, it is the denotation of subordination and monotony that endangers the success, prosperity, and future of entire corporations and, most importantly, the wellbeing of society.
By Lynn Ahrens