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Health and safety restrictions and requirements exist to keep employees safe in the workplace. But what is often missing from the conversation regarding health and safety is a dialogue that addresses the impact that these requirements have upon the happiness of your employees.
So, let’s talk about the economics of a smile. Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin, famously said: “take care of your employees, and they’ll take care of your company”. By ensuring that your staff are engaged -and healthy- you’re enabling them to do the best job they can. This might sound pretty simple, but it’s a stance that, with ever-growing work hours and stationary screen time, needs to be considered more than ever before.
Research has shown that working longer hours -and consequently not getting enough rest or poor nutrition- is linked to heart disease, chronic fatigue, and increases your risk of having a stroke. Although these conditions might sound a thousand miles from your standard workplace hazards of paper cuts and bruised shins, basic health and safety law provisions such as ensuring that employees are well rested and have a proper reporting system for when they don’t feel well enough to do their job safely, do an awful lot to protect employees.
These studies that indicate the negative health implications of working longer, more intense hours aren’t only referring to high-risk jobs such as construction, welding, or security, but office jobs too. Studies have shown that prolonged time in front of Display Screen Equipment (DSE) -which basically means the computer and phone screens that we interact with every day- can result in issues such as neck and back pain, strained eyes, and headaches.
Due to these potential impacts, the government has specific regulations on how much time employees should be spending in front of a screen or keyboard at work. A DSE training course can help employers to understand their legal obligations in this area.
It might seem overly basic to begin with, but making sure that your staff is happy and healthy is a key part of running a successful business. It’s a principle that applies no matter the size of your team or how niche your industry is. Your team is your greatest asset. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, in order for anyone to be able to perform a problem-solving task, they first have to be well rested, fed, and feel safe. If your employees don’t feel both healthy and safe, they’re not going to be able to perform their tasks well.
This theory, that happy employees are good for business, is backed up by academia. Ongoing research has shown that in companies where employees self-describe their state of being at work as “happy,” are, on average, 12% more productive than their counterparts who don’t identify as being happy at work. Productive staff tend to accomplish a higher quality standard of work which leads to greater results for the company, and ultimately, larger profits.
So there we have it. Health and safety isn’t just boxes to tick; it actually provides a real opportunity to ensure that your team is healthy, comfortable, and safe in their working environment. As we’ve covered, doing so not only ensures that you’re fulfilling your legal obligations, it’s also a true investment in your business’ capacity.