Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems are on the rise.
Between 2000–01 and 2014–15, the median time lost for a serious claim in Australia rose by 33 percent from 4.2 working weeks to 5.6. Over the same period, the median compensation paid for a serious claim rose by 112 percent from $5 200 to $11 000.
In addition, workers who are physically unwell or depressed or who are tired on the job for any reason (long shifts, poor health, lack of sleep) may put themselves and others at increased risk.
A robust safety and wellness program can encourage healthier habits, cut down on employee sick days and help keep your team functioning at peak performance. It may even reduce the costs of healthcare coverage and workers’ compensation.
Here are some ideas based on their findings for developing your own wellness program:
1. Build a culture of health and safety awareness. Explain to your workers the role that staying healthy plays in keeping safe on the job site.
2.Include wellness messages in safety newsletters and toolbox talks. Talk about ergonomics, the importance of stretching before starting work or during breaks, etc.
3.Motivate employees with incentives. Offer discounts on health insurance premiums for non-smokers, or offer a gift card for employees who get an annual physical.
4.Hold a wellness event in which employees can get flu shots, information about keeping healthy and screenings for high blood pressure, depression, and other problems.
5.Create some fun wellness competitions. Offer rewards for the person who can log the most steps in a month. Have a contest to see who can keep extra pounds off during the holidays. Get employees to buy into the program by asking them to help design it.
6.Offer free or reduced-cost smoking cessation or weight loss programs.
7.Provide healthy food choices in vending machines or cafeterias.
8.Enroll workers in training that helps promote healthy practices.
9.Emphasize that wellness is everyone’s concern, by getting management to take an active role in the wellness efforts.
Any effective culture of safety must encompass worker wellbeing. While you might not see the benefits of a safety and wellness program overnight, a consistent effort to improve your employees’ health will pay a return on investment over time and even increase morale. Who knows — it could make the difference between a worker leaving for another company and staying with yours.