Employee Health Comes First

Anything can happen, as the last few years have proved. Businesses that can adapt to difficult and changing circumstances not only stand a higher chance of weathering the storm, but also of forging ahead when things return to normal. Because employees are a company’s most significant asset, this is where you should focus your efforts.

There has been a lot of discussion on how to increase employee engagement and establish a healthy company culture where everyone feels valued and supported to perform at their best. But it all starts with your employees’ health. “Our employees’ mental and physical health allows them the mental strength to adjust to the new situation we’re all in.” And, in order to provide the resources that employees truly require, leaders must meet and engage with them where they are,” says Rob Butler, CEO of Wondr Health: A New Brand for a New World.

According to recent study, many other corporate executives are increasingly taking employee well-being very seriously. In a survey conducted in 2020, 93 percent of CEOs stated that their top priority is the health and safety of their employees. This is all well and good, but how will it be put into practise on the ground? What are C-suite executives doing to demonstrate that they are doing the talk, given that an organization’s culture and ethos originate from the top? Here are some ideas to think about.

Packages that cover all aspects of healthcare

Providing a comprehensive healthcare package to your staff is an obvious place to start, and it shows that you care about their health and well-being. Work with your HR staff to determine what the company can provide in terms of healthcare, and ensure that your employees are aware of how to use it and get the most out of it. Whether health benefits are included in the employment contract or are part of a larger Employee Assistance Program, they send a strong message that you are committed to assisting your employees in taking care of themselves.

Support for physical and mental first aid

Employers must provide adequate and appropriate equipment, facilities, and designated employees to carry out emergency first aid for accidents and illnesses at work, according to the Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981. Here’s just one of the many First Aid at Work (FAW) and Emergency First Aid at Work (EFAW) certification training courses available – but don’t forget that mental first aid is just as vital as physical first aid. While there are presently no legal requirements for designated mental health first aiders, in the wake of COVID-19, it is more important than ever for company and HR leaders to address their employees’ mental health.

Initiatives driven by the personal experience of CEOs

When Mark Bertolini, former CEO and Chairman of Aetna, turned to alternative therapies to heal a back injury sustained in a skiing accident, he fully supported the development of yoga and mindfulness-based programmes at Aetna: “Based on my personal experience, I fully supported the development of yoga and mindfulness-based programmes at Aetna.” “However, the reason we’ve been expanding these programmes among our employees is that they’ve proven to be highly popular and effective in lowering stress and increasing productivity,” he continues.

The’superhuman’ work ethic is being rejected

Arianna Huffington, Co-Founder of The Huffington Post and CEO of Thrive Global, famously said, “Give up the idea that burnout is the inevitable consequence of success.” Business leaders are accustomed to working in high-pressure, fast-paced commercial situations where work-life balance is rarely considered. But, even if the boss is never sick or absent, what example does this establish for the rest of the staff, much alone the CEO’s long-term health? Making wellness a personal priority necessitates a recognition that vulnerabilities are normal, not flaws, as well as the freedom to reframe mental health difficulties into positive behaviours that restore wellbeing.
The significance of unbroken downtime

Every top business executive should set an example by following the fundamental practise of taking time off to rest and rejuvenate. Rather than accepting and perpetuating the all-too-common blurring of work-life and personal-life lines – constantly being reachable by phone or email, carrying the laptop on vacation, etc. – the assumption should be that downtime means not being available for work. CEOs may find it difficult to be credible role models when it comes to unplugging during holidays, but it’s a critical skill to develop. Many have realised that a serious interest may help.

Direct communication to support individuals

Supporting employee well-being at work can take various forms, but nothing beats a direct order from the top when it comes to empowering individual team members. Ben Congleton, the CEO and Founder of Olark, went viral after expressing his heartfelt personal support for a colleague who elected to take two days of mental health leave. “I just wanted to thank you personally for sending emails like this,” he stated. Every time you do, it serves as a reminder to me of the significance of taking sick days for mental health reasons – I can’t believe this isn’t normal practise at every company. You are an inspiration to us all, and you help us overcome the taboo of bringing our complete selves to work.”

According to a survey conducted by Norwest Venture Partners, when CEOs focus on their own well-being, they are not only better able to achieve higher levels of productivity for themselves, but they also set a positive example for the entire company. CEOs clearly have a significant role to play in addressing employee health and well-being. Rather than following the “one size fits all” approach used by many HR departments, CEOs can go the extra mile and show their staff that they are cared for.

Employee mental and physical health can only be prioritised if it is ingrained in the company’s performance and embedded in the company’s ethos. Starting at the top of the organisation, a culture where employees are fully supported with flexible options to address their unique health and wellbeing needs must be established.