- A third of businesses believe employees’ wellbeing is their responsibility to a great extent.
- Employers, by law, have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees.
- The physical and mental wellbeing of employees is their own responsibility. However, there are steps employers can take to make it easier for employees to take better care of themselves.
According to Reba’s survey, businesses believe they have a significant role to play in employees’ wellbeing, with almost a third (32%) saying that it is their responsibility to a great extent.
Employers are aware of their responsibilities towards their staff, the costs related to increased sickness absenteeism, low productivity, legal complications and high staff turnover, and the impact workplace stress has.
While the topic of improved employee wellness continues to be consistently talked about, the question arises of who is accountable for worker’s wellness. Is it the employer’s or the employee’s responsibility to take care of their mental and physical wellbeing?
The answer: A bit of both.
The safety of employees is the responsibility of their employers
Many would agree that workplaces and employers are responsible for the safety of their employees while they are at the office – and in fact, it’s the law.
Under the OSHA law, employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace.
A safe work environment is a reasonable expectation that workers have of their employers. Employees want their employers to protect them from job hazards, but it’s important that employees realize they have a role in maintaining a safe workplace as well.
Both employers and employees share the accountability for encouraging a safety culture to improve behavior and performance in the workplace.
Employee’s physical wellbeing is their own responsibility
Besides physical safety, the physical health of workers is reliant on themselves.
While there are practices that workplaces can implement in order to assist in employee health, such as offering yoga classes, gym discounts, or offering healthy food, an employer isn’t obligated to do so, and workers should make time to work out and maintain their physical health outside of the office.
“Having worked in multiple businesses through literally every business cycle, my belief is that our personal health and wellbeing is no one’s responsibility but ours! Having said that, that does not mean that the business has no responsibility at all. It’s the responsibility of the leaders and managers of a business to create an environment that enables and makes it easier for employees to be well physically, mentally and emotionally,” Lawrence Mitchell wrote in a LinkedIn article.
Employee’s mental wellbeing is partly their responsibility and their employer’s responsibility
Employers should be in charge of creating a non-toxic and healthy workplace.
Fostering an environment in which sexism, sexual harassment and toxicity are not tolerated is the duty of every company and workplace.
A poor management style can also increase employee stress massively, which is unnecessary.
“Employees need to be in a supportive environment that puts a positive value on effective collaboration and individual contributions. When competition is high and your performance is always compared to your peers, lack in self-esteem and toxic relationships arise, and can be difficult to resolve quickly,” according to Workable.
But employees can also share responsibility in creating an environment in which they and their teammates can succeed together.
Workers are also responsible for their own mental health and emotional wellbeing. While employers should do what is possible to create a healthy and happy environment to work in, people must be in charge of their own emotional and mental health.
If workers are anxious or generally unwell emotionally, this can be remedied by getting proper sleep and exercise, taking natural supplements, and by taking steps to analyze the causes of anxiety. These steps include:
- Track your stressors and how you respond to them. A huge aspect of anxiety is not knowing what causes it.
- Develop healthy responses when feeling anxious; understand what’s bad for your health when coping with stress/anxiety (such as drinking, smoking, making poor food choices).
- Establish boundaries – either with people or with technology. Being available 24/7 can be incredibly stressful for some.
- Take time to recharge to avoid the negative effects of anxiety and burnout.
- Talk to your supervisor/boss. Employee health has been linked to productivity at work, bosses have incentives to create a work environment that promotes employee wellbeing.
Some workplaces implement wellness programs because it’s proven that healthy employees stay with their company. A study by Towers Watson and the National Business Group on Health shows that organizations with highly effective wellness programs report significantly lower voluntary attrition than do those whose programs have low effectiveness.
Wellbeing is a personal issue, and each individual has ultimate responsibility for their own health and wellness. Leaders provide the framework, and workers approach how they work and take care of themselves.
It is both the duty of employers and their workers to ensure employee’s wellbeing. After all, healthy, happy employees are more productive.