Investing in a healthy working environment has led to notable improvements in employee performance, as well as business returns (Allen, 2011). Although leadership wellness programs have created several benefits, there are fears that have been associated with the financial burden the organization bears in creating a healthy working environment (Grawitch, Ledford, & Ballard, 2009).
An individual’s health and lifestyle, while at work, go hand in hand. Due to this link, it is within reason to say that a person’s work environment determines the quality of work done by the employee. Allen (2011) notes that organizations that encourage their employees to adopt a healthy lifestyle have record improvements in employee performance.
An ideal and healthy work environment is created by the organization’s leaders through the enactment of various policies and encouraging the employees in adopting healthy lifestyles.
The Purpose and Issues Surrounding Healthy Working Environment
Although there are a few people in an organization, who may be capable of maintaining a healthy lifestyle without the need for a healthy working environment, the passage of time and an organization that does not encourage healthy living will eventually lead them to abandon their lifestyle (Grawitch et al., 2009). So as to minimize employee exposure to health risk, it is necessary for organizations to adopt healthier physical and social environments.
Leaders play a significant role in the creation and management of a healthy working environment (Lowe, 2003). Leaders achieve the organization’s objectives by understanding the behaviors of their subordinates (Bierema, 2012). By understanding the employees’ behavior and attitude towards healthy living, the leader can adjust the work environment so as to suit their lifestyles. Following this thinking, the initiation of a healthy working environment could help them achieve the best out of their personnel.Maintenance
The Role of Leaders in Creation and of a Healthy Work Environment
In order to create a healthy environment, it is necessary to identify leaders who support the idea of establishing a healthy workplace and also understand its significance (Allen, 2011). One means of creating a healthy organization is by encouraging workers to maintain healthy practices (Allen, 2011). In such a scenario, if there are employees who have a strict lifestyle and health requirements, the organization’s leaders can strive to provide the ideal working environment necessary for them to continue their practices. Some of these health practices could require the establishment of facilities or the purchase of particular equipment. These facilities could be in-house or outsourced, provided they are close to the organization of the workplace.
Another means of establishing a healthy organization is by enhancing employee awareness of the dangers of unhealthy living (Grawitch et al., 2009). However, this should be done with care to avoid causing social tension in the workplace where unhealthy workers are criticized. To ensure that this is done successfully, the involvement of leaders and managers in the sensitization programs would be useful. Allen (2011) found that the sensitization process should focus on both individual and group strengths instead of weaknesses.
The creation of healthy living support groups with team leaders helps to foster cohesion and encourage participants to adopt and maintain a healthy lifestyle (Bierema, 2012). Leaders should be able to hold their teams together and be the role model for the other employees to follow (Lowe, 2003). In addition, they should be able to construct a healthy lifestyle plan for the organization in a way that the needs of every individual in the organization are considered.
The most crucial part played by leaders is that of distributing the organization’s resources in a manner that does not compromise the company’s profitability (Lowe, 2003). The leaders allocate the funds needed for the establishment of a suitable and healthy, social, and physical environment. When doing so, great care should be taken to avoid leading the organization to ruin while creating an ideal healthy workplace. The refurbishment costs done to the workplace in the organization should be closely monitored so that they do not exceed the cost-benefit of the project.
Data Gathering and Measuring the Impact of a Healthy Working Environment
The benefits of a healthy working environment can be measured by looking at the advantages that come about from the direct introduction of wellness leaders and programs. The benefits may include increased employee performance, shorter time spent away from work due to illness, and an increase in returns, as well as retaining employees over long periods (Allen, 2011). By looking at the relationship between health issues in the organization and the practices and policies that can be carried out by a company’s leaders, it is possible to identify the benefits reaped in terms of productivity.
It will also be important to monitor the costs that will be incurred while implementing and maintaining a healthy working environment. These costs could be in terms of investments in facilities, equipment, policy enactment, employees, and time (Bierema, 2012).
The Future of Leadership Involvement in Creating a Healthy Environment
Although it has been noted that there exists a relationship between employee performance and the working conditions, there still exists a gap as to the extent of the relationship (Lowe, 2003).
Due to the positive results obtained from organizations with healthy work environments, more companies have entrusted the role of creating and monitoring healthier working conditions to managers (Grawitch et al., 2009).
Previous research on healthy organizations points to the involvement of other companies in creating healthier organizations.
Allen, J. (2011). Wellness Leadership. Maryland, Washington DC: Human Resources Institute.
Bierema, L. L. (2012). HRD’S Critical Role In Creating Healthy Organizations. Atlanta: University of Georgia.
Grawitch, M. J., Ledford, G. E., & Ballard, B. D. (2009). Leading the healthy workforce: The integral role of employee involvement. Consulting Psychology, 61(1), 122-135.
Lowe, G. S. (2003). Healthy Workplaces and Productivity: A Discussion Paper. Quebec: Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada.