Typically you spend a lot of time at the workplace. For many of us we spend more time with our coworkers than with family members and friends. While at work, we meet and have close contact interactions with colleagues.
These long hours and interactions at work do come with health risks. Sitting at your desk all day can cause fatigue and mental stress. Most importantly, the workplace exposes you to the risk of contracting an infectious disease from co-workers and infected surfaces.
The impacts of ill health on productivity at work might seem negligible but it does have far-reaching consequences than being perceived.
Obviously no one wants to get sick. Beyond that, the benefits of staying healthy in the workplace can range from personal and professional benefits to the positive impacts on the organization at large.
As an individual and as a decision-maker, your health is just as important as the health of the overall workforce. Ill health does not only take away your physical strength, it literally takes you out of the mental frame to get any meaningful job done. That's if one doesn't end up on a sickbed. When your health suffers, those work targets suffer, those projects get pushed forward and ultimately the company goals take the hit.
When you fall ill, it affects other employees a great deal. Often, work tasks are related to each other and when there is a missing piece, the whole project gets disrupted and stalled. So, when you can't attend work due to ill health it also affects those whose work is dependent on you doing your job. The impact is greater for a managing executive. For instance, you might need to look over and sign important documents that when delayed can stall business operations and affect business relationships with clients.
Even when you decide to drag yourself to work (like most of us like to do), there is no way you can give your 100%. It will show in your output and raises questions on your competency. Ill health puts your job online.
To sum it up, you need to keep yourself healthy in the workplace because:
On a larger scale, keeping your workforce hale and hearty drives the organization's performance. A healthy workforce ensures the smooth running of operations. A smooth operation inevitably enables the organization to deliver quality output and cut unnecessary costs that might stem from fixing a bad job or service rendered. This way, you can keep the customers happy, stay competitive, and maintain a positive bottom-line.
On the other hand, an unhealthy workforce hampers productivity. Usually, an organization sets goals that are further broken down into tasks that are assigned to teams and individual employees. When an employee is unable to complete assigned tasks due to health reasons, the organization’s goals suffer. For instance, a sick salesperson in the sales team where each member is expected to close a certain number of sales for the organization to reach its revenue goal will cause a draw-back for the team.
Even when you manage to pass the buck to the rest of the team, it causes undue pressure that isn’t healthy for productivity. Imagine if a situation like this one occurs to multiple people on teams across the organization. COVID-19 in workplaces proves the possibility of such a scenario. Hence, there is a need to stay healthy and keep the workforce healthy in the workplace.
In a nutshell, the net impacts of a healthy workforce include:
You have the responsibility of keeping yourself safe and healthy at the workplace first of all. Here are a few ways to go about it:
Avoid mingling with colleagues at work when feeling sick, by staying at home. The work will go on without you. You will not only be doing yourself a favor of quick recovery but avert the disaster of spreading sickness to colleagues at work.
While it is common sense to expect others to do the same, many employees do not for a variety of reasons. So if you show up to work while sick your coworkers will notice. Set a good example and either work from home, if possible, of tune work out entirely to focus on getting better.
Staying home will help you get better today. And by encouraging others to stay home, it will reduce your exposure to future illness.
Most of the time, you might not know who is sick in the workplace. In order not to end up a victim, it is best to avoid crowded space in the workplace. Infectious respiratory diseases spread in the workplace thrives in crowded offices. You should always keep some distance while interacting with colleagues.
When it comes to one's health, you cannot be too careful. Stay proactive by maintaining good hygiene. Wash your hands as often as you can. Have hand sanitizers handy so you can use on those occasions you cannot stand up to wash your hands. Get disinfectant spray and tissues to wipe your desk clean often. Hygienic practices will go a long way to help you stay healthy and safe at work.
To stay mentally alert, take frequent breaks from work to go grab some water or some healthy snacks. Never eat your lunch at your desk but instead take a walk to go grab lunch. These frequent breaks will not stall you from doing enough work like we like to think. It helps boost productivity by keeping your rejuvenated and focused each time you return from those breaks.
Even better, do some light exercise during your mental time away. A quick walk, short jog, a few crunches or just stretching will change your breathing patterns and heart rate. While this does not replace a full workout these short exercise activities will have a major positive impact on your physical and mental wellbeing.
While keeping yourself healthy is very important, you are also saddled with the responsibility of maintaining a healthy workforce. This is because employees drive the health of the organization.
To help employees stay healthy in the workplace:
A common cause of sickness among people is through the spread of germs which unfortunately the traditional workplace is designed to support. Shared screens, control systems, and buttons can all be replaced with touchless technologies and personal control devices in the form of workplace apps, wearables, and phone cameras.
Traditional workplace access control systems that use touch biometrics and key cards should be replaced with no-touch visitor management systems. Touchless access control systems allow users to gain access to workplace systems and space without a need to make contact with any surface. This reduces health risks from germs spread while creating a frictionless access control experience.
To curtail the spread of infectious diseases and safeguard employees' health, you simply need to have fewer people in a space. Reconfigure the workspace to create space between workstations, encourage outdoor meetings, and use transparent partitions to separate desks. Other options you might want to consider in the de-congesting workplace are to create shifts or encourage remote work where possible.
In addition to reducing density in the workplace, put in place engineering controls that facilitate a healthy atmosphere. Some of this type of controls can include:
Given the benefits of a healthy workforce for your organization, you need to create an active health culture within the workplace. Some companies have health hacks to improve employees’ health in place within their workplace. A health culture can include having employees volunteer in a fundraising marathon for good cause or engage them in charity bike rides. You could also set up an onsite-site gym in the workplace. When employees engage in these activities, it reminds them that they need to take responsibility for their health and stay fit always.
You have the responsibility to ensure hygienic practices within the workplace to reduce the risk of exposure to health hazards. Some of the safe work practices that can be implemented include:
It is important to know that while you keep yourself healthy at work, you also need to put systems and processes in place to keep the workforce healthy. Your health and that of the overall workforce is the engine that keeps the organization running effectively and deliberate efforts have to be made to build a workplace healthy and safe for all.