Safety and Wellness: The Critical Connection
There is a direct connection between safety and wellness, yet most companies treat these as separate initiatives and manage them in separate departments, using separate programs, budgets, measures, and reward systems. This is not an insignificant issue, because without properly connecting them under one integrated system, accidents, injuries, and lost productivity often result, as well as higher labor and insurance costs. In addition, in certain industries and jobs, product and service quality suffers and, in general, a drop in employee engagement can occur. The purpose of this article is to define this critical connection so that you will assess your company's safety and wellness programs, then redesign and modify them to be integrated as one system.
Safety Programs: Every company with employees who work in jobs requiring physical labor and/or in potentially hazardous conditions has safety programs to communicate, train, and, in some cases, reward employees for learning about and demonstrating safe behaviors, as well as for reducing lost-time accidents and other measurable results.
Wellness Programs: Many companies offer wellness programs to promote healthy behaviors, such as eating better, exercising, seeing medical professionals, and acting on their advice to manage risk factors and treat diseases. These programs are not mandated by the government, but are highly recommended and promoted by health insurance companies as a way of reducing medical claims and in turn, reducing insurance costs for companies. The ideal result is that employers and employees will pay less for insurance premiums and that these costs won't keep escalating each year. Secondarily, employees who are healthy and feel well are more likely to be motivated and engaged on the job and take less time off as a result of sicknesses. Wellness programs are usually managed by HR professionals who encourage employees to participate. These programs are administered from a "bottom up" perspective, based on voluntary participation.