1. What is employee well-being and why is it important?

With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to assure safe and healthy working conditions for working men and women. President Richard Nixon signed it into law on December 29, 1970.

Thanks to the creation of OSHA, an employee’s physical health is no longer in jeopardy while he or she is on the job. But employee well-being shouldn’t be defined by just physical safety. Mental and emotional safety should also be taken into consideration.
People spend about a third of their waking hours at work. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an employee’s mental health can be affected by the working conditions that greet him or her on the job.

However, poor working conditions can sometimes go beyond just the physical environment. For example, rudeness is an issue many employees face during their workday.

According to an article in the Harvard Business Review coauthored by Christine Porath, Associate Professor of Management at Georgetown, when employees were asked why they were rude or uncivil, over 25% point to their leaders and say, “because they’re disrespectful”.

Over 60% say that it’s because they have no time to be nice.

Surprisingly, Professor Porath also points out the unintended consequences of workplace rudeness. Experiencing, or even just witnessing, this behavior at work, actually affects people’s cognitive ability to focus. They’re not able to remember things as well and they’re far less creative.

Proof of this can be found in an experiment conducted by Amir Erez, a professor of management at the University of Florida. He found that participants in his experiment who were treated rudely by other subjects were 30% less creative than others in the study. They produced 25% fewer ideas, and the ideas they did come up with were less original.

A more positive work environment usually translates to a more positive attitude among employees. And when employees feel more positive, they are more in the mood to think creatively on the job. However, if the working conditions leave employees feeling negative about their job, work performance will decrease and absences will increase. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry backs up that claim. It examined trends in costs associated with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder or Clinical Depression). At the time of that study, the total economic burden of MDD was estimated to be $210.5 billion per year. Nearly half (48 to 50%) of these costs were attributed to the workplace, including absenteeism and presenteeism (reduced productivity while at work). Presenteeism associated with depression resulted in the equivalent of 32 incremental workdays lost (Greenberg et al., 2015).

$210.5 Billion Lost to Clinical Depression per Year

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), a psychologically healthy workplace should include these five components:

1. Work-Life Balance
2. Health and Safety
3. Employee Growth and Development
4. Employee Recognition
5. Employee Involvement

If your company doesn’t have a serious plan that covers these issues for your workforce, chances are that your environment isn’t as healthy for your employees as you think. Especially when it comes to their mental well-being.

And when employee well-being suffers, so does a company’s creativity and opportunity for innovation

The Connection Between Well-Being and Creativity

Expert from Kimball White Paper “The Connection Between Well-Being and Creativity” published on 11/8/2018