Industry Insights

Why healthy workplaces matter

Posted by John Wills on Aug 31, 2023 9:50:00 AM

There are many elements that combine to make a healthy workplace: regard for the physical and mental health of employees, the management of workloads and avoidance of high levels of stress, and a culture that promotes positivity in the interactions between everyone in the organization.

All of an organization’s stakeholders share some responsibility for demanding and creating a healthy workplace. But the greatest responsibility lies with the organization’s leaders.

Why should organizations take responsibility for the health of their people?

Leaders within an organization have a duty of care towards those that they lead. This means that, as a leader, you are responsible for the wellbeing, health and safety of the individuals in and around the workplace.

For an organization, just as for an individual, good health is a journey, not a destination. At times, it will be necessary – and the in the interest of maximizing the organization’s long-term productivity – for leaders to prioritize a healthy workplace over short-term productivity goals.

This is true because, from both an ethical and from a purely business-minded point of view, promoting a healthy workplace is good for your organization.

Benefits of a healthy workplace

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • More efficient working
  • Increased Innovation
  • Employee retention
  • Reduced overheads
  • Better morale
  • Reduced burnout
  • Better reputation as a business
  • Work life balance


10 benefits of a healthy workplace

  • Increased productivity

It shouldn’t need to be pointed out that employees who are well-rested and healthy are able to focus their energy more effectively into their work, directly contributing to improved productivity.

  • Reduced absenteeism

Healthy employees need fewer days off for illness, and having a healthy workplace makes employees more excited to come in to work. This means fewer days where your team has to make up for having people missing, and less stress for everyone.

  • More efficiency

As the maxim goes, work smart, not hard. The process of putting health-focused systems and procedures into practice will inevitably lead to the discovery of opportunities for efficiency gains that may otherwise have been overlooked.

  • Increased capacity for innovation

When people have time and flexibility to discuss and test new ideas, innovation and insight becomes more likely to occur. Healthy workplaces are more likely to give your people the time and space to do just this.

  • Improved employee retention

Employees who are happy in their work, and who are proud to work within an organization that values its people are more likely to remain with that organization for longer, leading to reduced employee turnover.

  • Reduced overheads

Employees needing time off work for illness, replacing people who leave due to burnout, and dealing with workplace conflict all incur costs for an organization. A healthy workplace helps keep these costs to a minimum.

  • Better morale

Employees in good physical and mental health, who support one-another in their work, are always going to contribute to team cohesion. Which, in turn, brings about further improvements in productivity and innovation.

  • Reduced burnout

When employees suffer from burnout, they are no-longer able to reach their full potential. This is bad for them personally and detrimental to the smooth functioning of the organization. Healthy workplaces, by definition, work to minimize or eliminate burnout among employees.

  • Reputational benefits

Providing a healthy workplace is an essential attribute of an ethical employer. Clients appreciate doing business with an ethical employer, and such an employer is likely to attract the best applicants when they have vacancies.

  • Work-life balance

Focusing on good health in the workplace has benefits that extend into your team’s home-lives, too. Fitter, happier employees have time and energy to pursue interests outside of work, keeping them more stimulated and motivated.


Cost of doing nothing

  • Reduced productivity
  • Lost workdays
  • Increased hiring costs
  • Workplace toxicity


The cost of doing nothing

  • Reduced productivity

Tired, stressed, unhealthy employees are at increased risk of making errors or suffering accidents at work. This is obviously very bad on a personal level, and can also be costly to the organization or have a negative impact on productivity.

  • Lost work-days

Unhealthy workplaces result in more days taken off sick and higher all-round rates of absenteeism.

  • Increased recruitment costs

Unhealthy workplaces experience poor employee retention, leading to organizations having to devote resources to recruiting replacement staff.

  • Workplace toxicity

Stressed, overworked employees, competing for limited resources under time-pressure are more likely to come into conflict with each-other.


Things for leaders to monitor

There are a few simple things that leaders within an organization can keep track of that will help prevent unhealthy practices in their teams.

  • Working hours

It is up to leaders to set an example for employees by refusing to romanticize overwork and by not treating having no time for wellness as a badge of honor.

  • Breaks

Regular breaks are essential for productivity, helping employees stay focused, they are essential for good health and the avoidance of exhaustion.

  • Unrealistic expectations and workloads

Monitoring the ability of their team to take regular breaks and maintain reasonable working hours will give an organization’s leaders insights into whether the workloads being set are manageable, and will inform the necessary adjustments where workloads are too great. In industries where seasonal changes in business volume are unavoidable – for accountants during tax season, for example – flexible working can allow employees to manage their workload between busier and quieter periods, allowing reasonable recovery time.

  • Poor working environments

Poor lighting, uncomfortable seating or bad desks, and noisy or dirty workspaces are all detrimental to employees’ health.


Offer support before it’s needed

With all things health-related, prevention is better than cure.

  • Promote wellbeing through open dialogue

Enabling a workplace culture where people feel they will be listened to gives employees confidence to discuss the impact of their work on their wellbeing, and to find ways of working that maximize not just productivity, but happiness, too.

  • Promotion of work-life balance

Lead by example, let your people know that you encourage them to maintain a healthy work-life balance. It may even be necessary to restrict working hours or redistribute responsibilities within your team to ensure that a better work-life balance is possible.

  • Manage workloads

Make sure that responsibilities are fairly distributed among your team. Ensure that your processes are agile and efficient enough that you can reach your goals without overworking your people.

  • Identify and fix poor communication or conflict

Give your team the right training to collaborate effectively, and structures within which everyone’s voice is heard.

  • Exercise good change management

Provide clarity about your vision for the organization, and encourage dialogue about the direction of your team. This ensures that employees can be confident in speaking up if things aren’t working for them.

  • Treat people as individuals

When engaging with your team, don’t forget that every person on that team is an individual with their own strengths, weaknesses, and abilities. Be a leader that people feel comfortable coming to when they have a problem.


Train your leaders

Creating a healthy workplace is complex and includes many conflicting priorities. Experiencing the benefits of a healthy workplace first-hand is a great way to help people in your organization overcome their reservations, encouraging them to take the plunge and put in the work to make it happen.

Business simulations allow potential future leaders within your organization to gain experience of taking business decisions, and to experience the outcomes of these decisions in a safe controlled environment. This way, your people can learn how best to create a healthy workplace, and they can witness for themselves the impact a healthy workplace has on productivity and business operations.

Contact us today to learn more.

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