How does purposeful employment contribute to employee well-being?

Expert details why workers have a right to employee well-being, and how to create policies around that

How does purposeful employment contribute to employee well-being?

Nearly nine in 10 (87 per cent) of workers believe that employee well-being is a human right, according to a recent report.

With such a high number of workers making this claim, employers should definitely listen. And one human resources professional argues that not only are workers right in making this claim, but there is also a huge business case for companies.

“We all have the right to be healthy,” says Brian Hughes, vice president of human resources for First Onsite Property Restoration, which conducted the study.

“Your well-being and health – mentally, physically and otherwise – is the foundation… And if [workers] don't have either of those, it's really difficult to help employees really be engaged, be most effective and as productive as they can be.”

Health and safety is well legislated across all regions in our country, he says.

“We've got the tools, we've got the policies, we've got the PPE… the last thing that really can drive a higher level of safety and engagement and mindfulness is your healthy well-being. 

“And that really escalates the importance of focusing, for employers, on expanding that beyond just those structural constructs.”

‘The resilient headspace’

This calls for HR professionals to focus more on what’s going on inside the head of workers, says Hughes.

“It’s increasingly important for HR leaders to focus on individual well-being and ensuring employees and managers are in the right resilient headspace,” he says.

“As the world and businesses change, workforces need ways to deal with high-stress situations and evolve to be adaptable and effective.”

How exactly can employers create policies that would cater to employee well-being? Be proactive and put in place things that would help workers be healthy and well, he says.

At First Onsite, for instance, they offer workers a resiliency platform, and they have well above the target 30 per cent of workers using it, says Hughes.

Overall, about 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to poor mental health every week, according to a previous report.

Value of purposeful employment

Over two in five (41 per cent) of employees also say that they lack options for purposeful employment, finds First Onsite Property Restoration’s survey of more than 1,500 Canadian adults.

This can also be linked to employee well-being, says Hughes.

Having purposeful employment “does provide a directional focus for people, for their well-being, if they feel like there is purpose,” he says.

“We have employees who are more engaged, have more of what we call the discretionary choice of use of their time... That by default, I would, suspect can be correlated to well-being from that point of view – as opposed to just being a taskmaster and being told what to do and not thinking and engaging.” 

Ensuring that employees find purpose in what they do “can only have a positive shift” overall, he says.

“If it's really purposeful, and individuals have input, and they're doing things that they love to do and they're good at… the business impact is there when you do have a purpose for people.”

Ensuring purposeful employment

How can employers make sure that their workers find purposeful employment within their fold? Stop treating them like machines, says Hughes.

“We are evolving as leaders and business operators… but a lot of businesses still [just] focus on getting tasks done, to deliver what they're delivering.

“If we really switch the mindset, we can get stuff done through developing people.”

This is an ongoing process, he says.

“There's a mindset shift that is still occurring, it's still evolving, within businesses as we get more focused on engagement and really listening to people, and not just getting stuff done. 

“We're not a bunch of factories anymore… We've been talking about the knowledge industry for decades now. And it's really coming to a head in my view.”

The particular statistic on purposeful employment, he says, tells us that workers are asking employers to give them purpose and meaning.

Doing that can keep them engaged “so that they're not looking elsewhere,” he says.

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