How Workplace Wellbeing is related to Organisational Success?
Task: You will research on the concept of workplace wellbeing and write a report on the ‘State of Play’ of an issue or debate in contemporary Work Health Safety and Wellbeing. In this report, you will identify the key stakeholders and their interests, canvass the literature and discuss the relevant research, the main debates and actions taken, and include recommendations for future progress.
Workplace wellbeing plays a significant role in ensuring the success of an organisation. According to the International Labour Organisation, the most crucial challenge that organisations these days are facing on anincreasing level is employee commitment issues. The reason behind this can be inefficient employee recognition policies, workplace challenges (such as stress, conflicts, bullying etc.), employees’ mental health disorders and drug and alcohol abuse (Ilo.org, 2021).All of these issues will be discussed in this paper depending on relevant pieces of literature. In the following section (discussion) the key stakeholders of standard workplaces will be identified and their interests will be discussed broadly. All of the above-mentioned challenges will be analysed individually. The actions taken by companies so far to address those challenges will also bediscussed in the following section. Finally, the report will be concluded along with three useful recommendations that might resolve the current challenges.
2.1 Work Health Safety and wellbeing
Workplace wellbeing is a broad concept that relates to a wide range of issues related to human life.For example, the level of physical safetyemployees enjoy the quality of the tangible environment, the thoughts, emotions and feelings they experienceconcerning their workplaces, the overall working environment, workplace climate and the culture of the organisation they work for. Therefore, in order to ensure employee wellbeing organisations should consider multiple aspects such as employee health, satisfaction level, workplace engagement and workplace safety (Ilo.org, 2021). However, before initiating an in-depth discussion the key stakeholders of regular workplaces should be identified. Stakeholders are those individuals that get directly or indirectly affected by the decisions and actions of an organisation. Stakeholders can affect the organisation as well and contribute significantly to making an organisation successful. The key stakeholders of workplaces are employers, employees and catering managers (Fitzgerald et al., 2016).In the following section, the interests of these stakeholders will be analysed.
2.2 Key Stakeholders and Their Interests in Terms of Workplace Wellbeing,
According to Pescud et al., (2015),employers consider the workplace wellbeing issue extremely important as it is directly linked to workplace productivity. An unhealthy lifestyle among employees increases the rate of absenteeism and reduces productivity. Thereby, the workplace wellbeing initiatives are taken by organisations that generally try to develop a high performing workforce. Employers mostly focus on assessing health risks, introducing wellness activities (healthy eating, mental health help etcand providing vaccination to their staff. They also focus on preventing injuries and accidents that might lead them to prolonged legal hazards and loss of brand reputation. Therefore, safety training, provision of PPE and environmental modification have become parts of workplaces wellbeing initiatives these days.
A study conducted by Fitzgerald et al., (2016),shows that managers take part in workplace wellbeing initiatives as they are interested in improving the images of their respective organisations in front of the employees and other key players in the industry. They are interested in presenting their companies as progressive ones within the national and international business realm. They also aim to earn employee loyalty which is necessary for improving the overall performance of the company.
According to Fitzgerald et al. (2016), employees are interested in workplace wellbeing initiatives as they are concerned about their health (blood pressure, cholesterol level, weight, digestive problems etc.), lifestyle concerns and age-related issues. Older employees find it difficult to keep up with their younger colleagues and want to reduce the negative outcomes of aging. Employees appreciate their employers and managers when they invest in workplace wellbeing endeavours such as free of cost health check-ups, mental health consultation, reduction of weekly working hours etc.
Stakeholders’ interests might change over time as their interests are directly related to their position and responsibilities. The power interests grid shows that stakeholders’ power and interests heavily depend on the position and responsibilities they are allocated to. Therefore, their interests change along with their position(Kik et al., 2021).
2.3 Employees and Mental Health Disorders
Employees' mental health challenges have emerged as one of the major factors in the workplace wellbeing context. According to the Harvard Business Review, several workplace related factors are directly or indirectly responsible for causing mental health challenges to employees. As per their research, 84% of employees believe that their mental health has severely been affected by at least 1 workplace related factor. Especially those that are from under-represented backgrounds or younger at age, face severe trouble in their workplaces. They identified draining work (monotonous, stressful, boring and overwhelming jobs) as the most negative factor in this case and this situation has worsened since the onset of the pandemic. Poor communication and lack of social connection are the two significant outcomes of the pandemic(Greenwood, and Anas, 2021).
According to Segel (2021), 62% of employees all over the world think that mental health is the greatest challenge for them during Covid-19 and 96% of companies have taken necessary measures to support their staff. However, one-sixth of those employees think they are being supported.As per a Harvard study,US companies spend a huge amount of money on workplace wellbeing programs through an $8billion workforce wellness industry. Their efforts helped employees to manage weight and get engaged in regular physical activities. However, they did not have any significant impact on employees' food choices, overall health and sleep quality(MILLER, 2019).
Litchfield et al. (2016), argued in their paper that the term ‘wellbeing’ is totally imperfect for handling such a dynamic issue. This term lets people understand it intuitively. However, such broad coverage is not possible to handle in real-life. Thereby many companies (such as Nestle, BT, Unilever, Shell, AstraZeneca etc.) these days are focusing on defining this at the beginning. The National Statistics, UK, has outlined ten domains along with 43 measures to ensure employees’ overall personal wellbeing (life satisfaction, happiness, health, and purpose).
2.4 Other Workplace Challenges
Mental health is definitely a serious issue,according to SafeWork 31% of employees feel work pressure is the major barrier to their wellbeing while 9% talked about other kinds of stressors. Along with these issues, people have also talked about some other barriers to their wellbeing; 27% of employees in Australia is concerned about bullying and workplace harassment. 14% are dealing with occupational violence and 2% have talked about racial and sexual harassment (Safe Work Australia., 2021).
According to Vartia-Väänänen, (2013), bullying is all about harassing, socially excluding or offending somebody which negatively affects their performance. Harassment on the other hand refers to the repeated act of abusing, humiliating or threatening somebody intentionally. Nielsen et al., (2014),through their research, found that mental health and workplace harassment and bullying are positively related. On one hand, such acts cause mental issues to the victim; on the other hand, people with mental illness are the primary target of such unacceptable acts.
Hall, and Lewis, (2014), however, argues that the act of workplace bullying and harassment is related to the concept of a protected class and is not restricted to any particular gender. It has been observed bullying frequent takes place within situations where the victim does not belong to any protected class and the offender does. In the end, it can be concluded that bullying is a result of discrimination, it is all about discriminating against some individuals on the basis of their background or mental health conditions from the rest.
2.5 Inefficient Employee Recognition Policies
Employee recognition is another important aspect; according to Tessema et al., (2013), employees that feel recognised and appreciated for their performances also feel confident about themselves and contribute effectively. Non-financial rewards such as intrinsic rewards and recognition play a vital role in job satisfaction and employee engagement. It also leads to better communication and effective management of workplace conflicts. It decreases turnover and absenteeism as well. Personalisation of rewards is a great method for employee recognition.
The above-mentioned argument has been contradicted by another study conducted by Gubler et al., (2016). The authors have shown that several drawbacks of personalised employee management programs are also there. It can generate a sense of being treated unfairly or unequally. Employees that always have worked hard might find it difficult to accept that their previous hard works remained unrewarded. Employees can also lose motivation when they feel that they are not eligible for the reward programs and go back to their old habits. The researchers conducted a study involving five industrial laundry plants and found that such reward programs only motivate employees initially and they start losing hope once eligibility for the reward gets lapsed for a particular month. This study also found that by introducing such competition, organisations actually demotivate those employees that were already motivated internally. So, it can be concluded that the issue of employee motivation should not be oversimplified.
2.6 Drug and Alcohol Abuse
According to Anderson, (2012), there is a significant connection between alcohol and other kinds of addictions with workplace-related stress. On the other hand, such addictions increase the chance of absenteeism, productivity loss, suspension, disciplinary issues, poor relationships with co-workers, and unemployment. Another study conducted by Goldsmith et al., (2015),shows that there is a close connection between drug abuse and workplace accidents. It can majorly affect occupational safety. Therefore, it can be said that on the one hand alcohol and usage negatively affect workplace experiences on the other hand negative workplace experiences lead to alcohol and drug abuse.
2.7 Actions taken
Actions that organisations generally take to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their employees can be divided into three categories, providing mental health support to employees, promoting physical health and good habits and finally, workplace safety measures (Fenton et al., 2014). Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) are the most popular actions taken by organisations, EAP involves short term counselling sessions concerning family issues, drugs and alcohol abuse etc. Added to that organisations arrange educational and intervention programs to improve employee behaviours. Such programs revolve around stress management, health information, fitness etc.
In order to address employee’s physical health-related issues organisations, apply three types of intervention strategies, those are
1. Adopting appropriate policies regarding health insurance, treatment cost reimbursement, providing meals and memberships in health clubs.
2. They also adopt environmental intervention strategies, which refers to ensuring access to healthy food, offering exercise and physical activities facilities etc.
3. Individual-level interventions are also popular which includes exercise programs, counselling, etc. Ensuring occupational safety is another important factor. The strategies organisationsadopt to address this issue include prevention, secondary control measures (pain control, employee empowerment, information sharing, support, reassurance, bio-physical rehabilitation etc.) andhealth and safety strategies (implementing legal instructions, experience testing, training etc.)(Fenton et al., 2014).
Based on the above discussion it can be said that workplace wellbeing is a broad topic that covers a large number of individually significant topics. It holds different meanings for different workplace stakeholders depending on their position and responsibilities. Mental health issues have emerged as the most interesting topic in the context of workplace wellbeing, and 96% of companies have adopted different measures to handle these challenges. However, most employees do not feel they are being supported by their employers in any way. Thus, it is important to define the term wellbeing at the beginning. Bullying and workplace harassment are some other issues, however, the reason behind such behaviours is a debatable topic. Still, it can be said that discrimination remains the primary motive of the offenders. Employee recognition policies are also important for ensuring employee wellbeing; however, it has been observed such policies might make it difficult for some employees to perform properly. Drug and alcohol abuse is linked to a lack of workplace wellbeing in a circular loop. Drug and alcohol use negatively affect workplace wellbeing, at the same time negative experiences in the workplace leads people to such addictions.
1. First of all, organisations should take firm actions against workplace discrimination which is the root cause of harassment and bullying. Employees should be educated about the nature and consequences of workplace discrimination.
2. Workplace wellbeing should be viewed as a learnable skill that should be practised on a daily basis, not as a vague and wide concept. Instead of offering employees what they need, they should be taught how to identify the right mix of strategies that can improve their overall experience (Segel, 2021).Such an approach will help them manage workplace stress, conflicts, drug and alcohol addiction and mental health challenges.
3. In order to handle the traditional recognition program-related challenges, peer-to-peer recognition strategies can be adopted where colleagues will rate each other on the basis of their personal experiences. In such cases, the objectives of the recognition program should be clear in front of everybody.
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