In his book The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg cites the implementation of a safety-first approach at Alcoa by then-CEO Paul O’Neill as the essential change of a keystone habit. The emphasis on worker safety led to significant improvements in various aspects of the company, such as job satisfaction, individual performance, and work hours lost.
Today, most companies never take safety for granted. You won’t hesitate to call the local industrial electricianin Utah if there’s a potentially hazardous fault in the wiring. Yet at many places of work, employee well-being is more difficult to gauge and, if unattended, can create adverse consequences similar to those of ignoring workers’ safety. Here’s what you can do to apply the lessons of improved workplace safety to enhance employee well-being in your company.
Start with self-care
Many people may feel that a safe work environment is mostly the responsibility of an employer, but well-being is more of individual concern. While this may not be entirely fair, the indicators of your physical and mental health aren’t always apparent, even to colleagues who see you daily. So, lead by example and strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Avoid hanging out with co-workers when you know that such socializing would also entail negative habits like smoking or drinking. By taking better care of yourself, others will start to perceive you as a role model. They will be more inclined to listen when you speak up for the necessary changes to be made.
Observe and communicate
Everyone can respond differently to the same conditions. Our physiological and psychological make-up is unique – an average day’s work for you might go by like it’s nothing, while a teammate handling the same workload might suffer from incredible stress.
If you want to be part of improving workplace well-being, be aware of the needs of others. Even if you aren’t in a leadership position, you can still reach out to your co-workers. Listen and communicate effectively, and you may find common challenges that people face each day at your workplace. For instance, a lack of healthy food options among the concessionaires may be an issue for some employees. If it’s common practice to keep working on breaks, then employees may not even get to stretch or take brief walks outside, which can increase the risk of repetitive strain injury.
Give effective feedback
Leading the call for positive change in any organization can be harder than it sounds. Many employees are inherently fearful of raising issues with management. Likewise, leaders with good intentions don’t automatically manage to foster an environment where open communication is encouraged.
If you’d like to give effective feedback about improving well-being at work, then be sure to make it thoughtful and constructive. Also, offer an idea for a solution that can be worked out together with the leadership involved. This will go a long way towards demonstrating that the issue is real (and not just a trivial complaint to be easily dismissed), and that you’re genuinely concerned about providing input and making improvements.
Tending to employee well-being at any workplace can provide significant benefits towards productivity and satisfaction. No matter where you are in the hierarchy of an organization, these steps will help you bring about positive change for yourself and your colleagues.