Ensuring high staff well-being at work is not only the right thing to do, it’s the smart thing to do. Staff well-being not only contributes to team performance and outcomes; it can also seriously affect the bottom line.
While Workplace Health and Safety initiatives have traditionally focused on the physical safety of staff and their work environment (which my colleague wrote about – Workplace Health, Safety’s forgotten friend), a health and well-being focus broadens this to include Psychological Safety. As a business leader there are 2 things you should know about well-being at work.
Left unchecked, low employee well-being can lead to ‘stress’ claims. Such claims are not only costly (with the average claims rising to $342,000 in recent years), but also time consuming. Workers Compensation claim investigations can take time, resulting in uncertainty and increased anxiety for all concerned. Even in less severe cases, low levels of wellbeing could be costing your business. Increased incidence of sick leave, absenteeism, lower productivity, lower customer satisfaction, and high unwanted turnover (including associated hiring and retraining costs) are prevalent within workplaces where staff well-being is low.
Added to these direct costs to business, leaders may also bare a personal liability for low workplace wellbeing. This is because under section 19(1) of the Work Health and Safety Act (the WHS Act), employers are responsible for creating a safe working environment. Ignoring the signs of poor wellbeing in the workplace is akin to not addressing physical dangers such as trip hazards.
2. The Brighter Side of Workplace Well-being
If you are unmoved by the cost of inaction, there are better reasons to focus on staff wellbeing than to simply avoid legal headaches. A growing body of research suggests that there is a direct relationship between wellbeing and performance, whereby workplaces with higher levels of workplace wellbeing will engender higher levels of discretionary effort from staff. These are the workplaces where staff go above and beyond for their customers, co-workers and boss – and it’s noticeable on the balance sheet.
It is estimated that healthy workers are almost three times more productive than unhealthy workers. Further, it is estimated by Comcare that the return-on-investment (ROI) for businesses that prioritise staff wellbeing is greater than 5:1. The take away here is that workplace cultures that are conducive to high levels of staff well-being are also conducive to better business performance.
As a business leader, no matter which way you look at it well-being is your business.
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