That organisations are required to extend a workplace environment that is healthy and safe is an imperative. A safe workplace environment encapsulates various facets-physical safety, mental well-being and safer commutes. Although a fundamental requisite, ensuring safer workplaces tends to be a slippery slope for organisations. To the same end, a few reforms that can help organisations ensure workplaces that are optimally fit for work have been cited.
Physical safety at workplaces
Making workplaces safer can be a long and arduous process, requiring certain continuous overhauls. However, we should not let the extent of the required work deter us from pursuing the same. We should therefore begin by assessing the organisation, its layout, business processes, and people. At the same time, we must try and gauge any warning signs or loopholes that would make the organisation vulnerable.
Being mindful of the insides and surroundings of the organisation is the key. We should invite other business heads to join in this expedition for probable security risks and aim to have a security roadmap in place and take measures ahead of time. This may include re-organising the floor plan, making the first-aid kit available where it would be required the most, providing security gears should the same be required etc.
In Quotes “Being mindful of the insides and surroundings of the organisation is the key. We should invite other business heads to join in this expedition for probable security risks and aim to have a security roadmap in place and take measures ahead of time.”
This is assuming that the mandatory and recommended policies and committees are in place. And, if not, employers or the top management are required to comply with the same immediately with regulations by implementing procedures and policies for ‘Prevention of Sexual Harassment, and ‘Addressing Employee Grievances’ and the others as mandated by law.
At the same time, owing to the nature of the business, imparting appropriate skills necessary for employees to take ownership of their safety and security is important. Organisations deploying heavy machinery or equipment must ensure that the staff working with the same is fully trained and equipped to handle the machinery and tools. Additionally, ensuring periodic checks and inspections of the machines and tools is a fundamental requirement. Organisations should also install security switches, fire extinguishers wherever necessary, along with smoke alarms etc. in order to ward off any emergencies.
Matters of mental health
While the work-related health hazards are easily identifiable and are thus tangible, there is also an intangible form of hazard plaguing the wellbeing and productivity of employees. In addition to physical safety, it is also paramount for organisations to ensure the best of mental health and emotional wellbeing of the workforce. Although more complex, organisations need to be prepared to spot the early warning signs and make workplaces more conducive for people going through issues pertaining to their mental health.
If an employee complains of anxiety or talks about depression, the same is never to be ignored in the name of workplace humour or profane gossip. Physical symptoms also stand to be a telling sign if an employee’s mental health has been impacted. If an employee is otherwise performing well, but starts complaining about body aches, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, or, is observed to have increased his/her alcohol intake or is indulging in drugs/substance abuse, the same should immediately warrant a conversation.
By providing other benefits like compulsory annual leaves or flexible working hours, organisations can help employees attain a better work-life balance. Inviting counsellors or experts to deliver talks or conduct sessions/workshops, sensitising people and creating awareness over the pertinence of sound mental wellness will also help in ensuring the overall well-being of the workforce.
Safety beyond working hours
The responsibility of an organisation to ensure an employee’s safety should never remain limited to the office premises alone. There are numerous threats lurking around while an employee is commuting to and from work. Enterprises are morally (and in certain cases, even legally) obligated to ensure the safety of their workforce during their commute to and from office.
One often gets to hear about the crimes, violence, robbery or other threats that employees are subjected to, oftentimes while returning from work during wee hours. For instance, back in January, an Asstt. Vice President of HDFC Bank was ambushed and robbed of his car in Gurugram in the National Capital Region. In another fleetingly similar incident elsewhere, a BPO Team Lead, while returning from work during late night hours, was robbed of nearly 2 lakh rupees, apart from being subjected to physical violence.
While these formidable incidents are regrettable, workplaces of today are required to ensure the safe returns of their employees. However, managing daily employee transportation is a non-core business activity draining the enterprises off valuable resources. In such scenarios, present-day enterprises must outsource the task to service experts in the domain. This little act will not only ensure proper commute by trained and verified drivers that can be tracked easily, and at the same time, will also ensure cost optimisation.
In essence, organisations need to approach employee safety at workforce more proactively. By having open and honest communication with the employees, understanding what’s bothering them and coming up with policies and protocols that would make work more conducive, organisations will be able to benefit from a safe, more focused and productive workforce. Besides, when the employees know that they are well taken care of in the organisation, they would be motivated to walk the extra mile and ensure optimum contribution towards the goals and objectives of the organisation. This is corroborated by the economists at the University of Warwick who found that happiness leads to around 12 percent increase in productivity and that employees’ physical comfort is a key contributor to happiness.
In Quotes “When the employees know that they are well taken care of in the organisation, they would be motivated to walk the extra mile and ensure optimum contribution towards the goals and objectives of the organisation.”
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