Workplace Safety and Workplace Wellness
After more than a decade designing successful wellness programs, we’ve worked with just about every type of employer group you can imagine. One trend I’ve noticed is that blue-collar firms (manufacturing, agriculture, gaming, hospitality) have a special kind of buy-in when it comes to employee health and wellness. That’s because most of them already invest in workplace safety. We typically customize our wellness programs to complement their existing safety programming.
The Campbell Institute—a thought-leader in the field of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS)—released a white paper recently that promotes “integrated health and safety,” which they argue “lies at the intersection of health protection—safety—and health promotion—wellness.” John Dony, director of the Campbell Institute and director of environmental, health, safety and sustainability at the National Safety Council, goes on to say that “maintaining a sustainable business requires moving beyond just workplace safety to include overall employee health and wellness.”
The Campbell Institute study highlights four excellent suggestions for wellness program success:
Start with a pilot and listen to employees.
- Start health and well-being programs by piloting key aspects at select locations before rolling out the whole program to the entire company.
- Gather input and support from employees and leaders via one-on-one interviews, focus groups and/or town halls to get a better understanding of what they would like to see in a wellness program. Periodically conduct round-table discussions and a semi-annual employee survey to stay current with employee feedback and questions.
Understand the importance of communication.
- Communication can take many forms: email newsletters, quarterly campaigns that focus on specific health topics, or general updates to raise awareness and encourage employees to be proactive about their health.
- Enlist employees to serve as wellness champions to gain support for the program and communicate its importance. Gather testimonials from employees to convey how well health initiatives are working.
- Emphasize the privacy and confidentiality of employee health information.
Experiment with incentive structures.
- Finding the right balance (“carrot” vs. “stick”) isn’t easy.
- Experimenting with participation-based and outcome-based incentives structures is one path to achieving a good balance between participation and effectiveness.
Engage employees through organized activities.
- Organize frequent wellness competitions.
- Connect well-being to safety.
- Communicate to employees that being physically and mentally well enables them to perform work better and safer.