Promoting a Healthy Workforce

Promoting a Healthy Workforce

05/7/14 James Winston

A company’s greatest expense is their employee workforce, and it is also their greatest asset. There has been continued evidence that a company’s success in today’s marketplace depends on a greater focus on its employees and their mental health. Forward thinking organizations understand that high performance and sustainable business results require attention to employee health.

Each year, the American Psychological Association (APA) recognizes companies that promote positive work environments, while fostering organizational performance. The APA has also acknowledged the types of practices which have promoted health, safety, and organizational performance. There is no one-size-fits all approach, but there are categories that seem to be identified which include: employee involvement, recognition, health and safety, employee growth and development, and work/life balance. Of employees working in this year’s award-winning workplaces, only 24 percent reported chronic work stress compared to the national average of 41 percent. Only 14 percent of their employees planned to seek jobs elsewhere, compared to 28 percent nationally.

When an organization is seeking a work environment that promotes better mental and physical health, they will many times resort to research and information that can be confusing and not applicable to their unique setting.  A better method is to look at comparable work environments or the work environment that exists today and notice what is working and duplicate it. Another factor is to motivate workers with emotions, not facts, as this is what better motivates people. Positive interventions that promote good mental health, a stress-reducing work environment, and offer resources for support will more likely motivate employees. Finally, it is necessary to remove obstacles and make it easier for employees to do the right thing in making change happen.

Employee assistance programs (EAP) can be a positive approach to help your workforce access mental health counseling and education on how to promote healthy lifestyles. Promoting the EAP to employees, encouraging management to support its use, and utilizing the EAP’s offerings to help create and maintain a healthy, positive, and productive workforce is key to helping individuals and the overall organization reach its highest potential.

Training is a great, interactive way to provide employees with information on how to positively handle changes in the workplace, as well as providing leadership development, professional skill development, wellness education, and ways to achieve a work/life balance. Substance abuse is another area that EAP’s can be instrumental in helping to promote positive changes in the workforce. Inevitably, there will be a percentage of employees who will have substance use issues that affect their personal and work life. Overall, workers who know that they have resources feel supported and valued, and are more likely to grow and seek help when needed.

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