Stress, burnout, mental health, fatigue, or substance abuse are just some of the issues that employees from a variety of workplaces suffer from, resulting in significant productivity and financial losses for both themselves and their employers. The impacts of scarcity of workplace wellness initiatives lead to both personal health concerns and company productivity obstacles. More lost time at work, financial stress, and organizational inefficiencies, for example, result from poor employee wellbeing and contribute to growing concerns about staffing shortages, high turnover rates, and chronic absenteeism. But these matters are not irreversible or unsolvable, and not addressing these concerns actually costs more time, money, and resources. Access to wellbeing programs within the workplace are lacking in the Southern Tier, especially compared to other regions in New York State. In order to hire and maintain a quality staff it is important to implement and preserve workplace wellness programs.
Despite a lot of health concerns stemming from the workplace, employees often regard them as private matters and address them outside the company, even when it means using free time and out-of-pocket expenses. As someone looking at prospective employers, companies who recognize the stress of jobs and who prioritize workplace wellness programs to employees are more attractive employers. If issues result from workplace stressors or impact an individual's day-to-day operations, employees should have the opportunity to address those needs in the workplace.
Wellness programs and opportunities suggested by Southern Tier business leaders include training on stress, communication and team building, mind and body practices like meditation or yoga, depression and stress coaching, or education and anti-stigma campaigns on topics like drug and alcohol abuse or healthy sleeping. More research is also being done into the impact of what some consider normal, "everyday problems" such as neck and back pain, a leading cause for employee absenteeism. Those interested in sharing their experiences regarding neck and back pain both in and outside of the workplace can do so here. There are a variety of issues
Bringing in experts during the workday to do seminars and discussions on mental health or back pain, two easy to relate to topics for instance, will facilitate behaviors and actions to self-improvement and will provide a forum for employees to conveniently seek advice within the workplace. In addition, allowing one-on-one time with professionals for employees to seek help on individual matters would improve the comfortability and wellbeing of each employee. Having the access to professionals and the time to discuss with them will make all the difference in each employee's morale and productivity in and out of the workplace.
Another engaging activity that would improve workplace wellness is team-building and communication exercises. Giving coworkers the opportunity and the outlet to test and enhance their cooperation and collective intelligence would result in a positive working community where employees find the workplace to be a caring, trustworthy, and reliable environment. It would enrich each individual's experience with the company, encourage their loyalty, and contribute to a friendly environment. It encourages employees to support one another, appreciate each other's strengths, and inspire relationship building.
The benefits for the company are compelling, too. Employers are faced with rising health care costs and lost time at work addressing these health concerns. By implementing these programs and initiatives, employers will see a reduction in absenteeism, improved company morale and loyalty, and higher productivity rates. The Southern Tier has over 11,000 individuals unemployed but eligible for work and employers are still facing staffing shortages intensified by the pandemic. The environment of a company has a big effect on the desire to choose an industry and join the workforce. If personal health and wellbeing is treated as a priority and a friendly and supportive environment is developed, employees will be more prepared and invigorated to work.
Authored by Intern Emma Augostini