Most business managers have some appreciation of health and safety on the job and recognise that they have a moral and legal duty to keep employees safe and healthy while they are at work. But do they fully understand the scope of what “safe and healthy” really means? With usual health and safety audit processes put aside, what other factors can managers keep an eye on?
Many employers have made provided adequate training and followed safety procedures, however, it is now recognised that a workplace can be physically safe and yet still be an unhealthy place to work. Increasingly, the issues of stress and mental health; known as psychosocial hazards, are becoming a cause for concern.
What do psychosocial hazards include?
- Constant work overload.
- Lack of control over how work is done.
- Harassment, bullying, or discrimination on the job.
- Lack of supervisor support.
- Lack of respect for workers.
- Lack of appropriate rewards and appreciation for the effort expended.
- Lack of support for work-family balance.
- Poor communication.
- Ambiguity about job responsibilities.
Most people know intuitively that these things are unpleasant. But they are also hazardous to the health and safety of employees.
What can health problems can exposure to psychosocial hazards lead to?
Research shows that some of these situations can make employees up to three times more likely to suffer from:
- Back pain,
- Heart disease,
- Musculoskeletal disorders,
- Substance abuse, infections,
- Mental illness such as depression and anxiety,
- Conflicts and violence at work.
- Employees can be as much as five times more likely to suffer from certain cancers.
Clearly, any company with an increased risk of these conditions will be ultimately paying for it in increased absenteeism, short and long-term disability, decreased productivity and employers liability insurance costs.
In addition, there is an increasing amount of litigation occurring in courts, and growing settlements in favour of employees related to the employer’s responsibility to provide a “civil and respectful” or an “emotionally safe” workplace.
The good news is that employers can do something about these issues!
How can companies help control psychosocial risks?
- Encouraging workers to participate in decision-making.
- Demonstrating fairness in management style and application of policies.
- Training and evaluating supervisors on communication and “people skills”.
- Providing flexible work arrangements.
- Providing work-life balance policies and practices and a supportive culture.
- Showing appreciation for employees’ efforts.
- Ensuring the workplace environment is respectful to all workers.
- Measuring employee satisfaction regularly and acting on findings.
- Providing employees with the information and resources they need to do their jobs well.
- Addressing work overload issues.
None of these strategies are simple or can be accomplished by just spending money or issuing edicts. Employers need to understand how to manage these risks and encourage use of tools, such as the Cardinus Stress Indicator Tool, to reduce the potential risk for these issues to manifest themselves into work-related illness, injury and claims.
How Cardinus can help
Cardinus can offer a free trial of a number of e-learning courses and online tools that could help to manage or reduce workplace stress.
- Managing stress at work to help you to recognise and manage the symptoms of stress.
- Work rest break software is a useful tool that will help employees manage their work/rest ratio.
- Keyboard shortcut training will help employees save time, work healthier and feel more comfortable.