While employee health has always been an issue worth focusing on, the last couple of years have shown how an employee’s well-being and their employment are inextricably linked. It’s been obvious in the responses to the pandemic that employment practices had a huge part to play in controlling the virus, but even before any of us knew what Covid-19 was there was an ongoing conversation about occupational health.
In 2022, the clear and obvious fact is that we can’t ignore the part that an employer can play in the well-being of their employees. While national governments played a significant part in deciding mask mandates and remote working policies, the importance of best practices will not go away even when Covid moves to merely being endemic. So if you want to earn and maintain a relationship for being a health-focused employer, the following points need to be understood and absorbed.
Most jobs have health risks inherent to them
It goes without saying that if you’re handling dangerous chemicals or entering conflict situations, there are risks attached to the job that you’ll know all about. However, any job can be a dangerous job when it comes to the employee’s health. Sitting at a desk for prolonged periods can present problems, particularly in the musculoskeletal system. This means that offering a pre employment medical, and making adjustments to avoid causing or aggravating a health issue, will make a huge difference in retaining a healthy workforce. Be aware of the kind of health issues that are a risk in your business, and know how to screen for them.
Covid exposed a major failing in occupational health thinking
There has for some time been an attitude towards absenteeism that prioritizes attendance at the office over everything else. If you’re going to take a day off work, the theory goes, you’d better be pretty ill – so if you’re ”just” coming down with a cold, pop a few aspirin and come on in. The one problem is that a cold can get worse across a period of days, and during that time a contagious employee can pass it on to several more people. Allowing an employee to work from home while dealing with a cold doesn’t make you a soft touch – it means you can isolate and potentially neutralize a threat to staff health at the first opportunity. The pandemic made clearer than ever how much of a problem presenteeism can be.
Mental health doesn’t go away if you ignore it
It’s often opined that we are living in a generation that is “soft” when it comes to mental health. This isn’t true – it’s simply easier than ever to recognize symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, depression and stress. It’s also more important than ever to pay attention to these issues – the connections between mental and physical health are very clear now. If an employee is showing signs of struggling with their mental health, leaving them to get over it is not an option. Your business should make it clear that people are free to be open about it when they’re struggling – and offering to cover the costs of therapy, in whole or in part, can take a lot of pressure off someone who’s dealing with an issue.