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Are You Listening to Health and Safety Concerns?

health and safety concerns
  • Published
  • 22 November 2021
  • Category
  • General

Here’s a question to ponder while you are celebrating Thanksgiving or taking a much-needed rest break this week: Are you listening, really listening, to what your employees and loved ones have to say about their health, safety and overall sense of well-being?

Psychologists tell us that when a person’s expressed thoughts are not validated, they may feel isolated, ashamed, angry, depressed or emotionally drained. When employees’ fundamental security needs are disregarded or minimized, there can be a cascade of detrimental effects in the workplace.

National surveys suggest that many employees do not feel they are being heard by their employer, which is one of the factors believed to be contributing to what is referred to as the nation’s “Great Resignation,” “Great Attrition” or the “Big Quit.” Millions of Americans have resigned from their jobs for all sorts of reasons this year. Meanwhile, employers have been dealing with COVID-19, staffing shortages, labor actions, economic uncertainties, supply-chain disruptions, holiday-season demands and the need for innovative strategic planning to sustain their business.

Communication and true understanding suffer when demands are high and people are exhausted.

Employee Voices

We can learn when we listen. Here are some examples.

In a recent Feedback From the Field survey of 1,950 frontline employees in the U.S., United Kingdom and Australia, SafetyCulture found that essential workers are more likely to feel their workplace health and safety concerns are not being heard by upper management. Respondents ranked operations, safety, and health and well-being as their top three concerns.

Among the findings:

  • 66 percent of frontline workers in the U.S. said they are never, rarely or only sometimes listened to on topics that matter the most to them.
  • 36 percent of U.S. workers said they are concerned about losing their job if they report a safety or quality issue to management, including adherence to COVID-19 protocols.
  • 34 percent of respondents said their willingness to provide feedback is impacted by a belief that nothing will be done by management in response.
  • Just one in four American workers indicated they feel empowered to solve an issue themselves.
  • 55 percent of U.S. respondents said the opportunity to contribute is the key to process improvement.

Summarizing the survey findings, Bob Butler, global general manager of SafetyCulture, said: “It’s clear that (essential workers) want a say in the operations and running of their workplace. Two-way communication between frontline workers and management is no longer a ‘nice to have,’ it is a business imperative.”

In a May 2021 survey of 3,368 office workers in 10 countries, JLL, a global real estate services company, found that 36 percent of employees feel they lack energy and are struggling to stay motivated and engaged in their jobs; 37% agreed with the statement that the time and effort they have put into their job has not been sufficiently recognized or rewarded during the pandemic. Three-fourths of respondents indicated that the ability to maintain work-life balance is closely connected to their physical and mental health, and that they expect to feel “protected” by their employer when expressing their difficulties or concerns. (Refer to the JLL’s Regenerative Workplace report for additional findings.)

Mid-level managers and executives are also affected by communication barriers. In a 2021 Happeo survey of 450 U.S. professionals, 43 percent of respondents said they are looking for new employment. Breakdowns between leadership and internal communications was cited as a primary reason for wanting to move on.

“The long and the short of it is that people – especially managers – may not feel heard and therefore valued. This breakdown could lead to a major misalignment between staff and business values,” Stefka Ivanova, director of brand and creative marketing at Happeo, a social intranet company, wrote in an Oct. 14, 2021,  Forbes article on the Great Resignation and the Role of Communications in Retaining Employees.

In a 2021 McKinsey & Company survey conducted with 4,924 employees in five countries, 42 percent of U.S. respondents who quit their jobs without having a new one worked in the health care and social assistance sector. However, the leisure and hospitality industry had the highest risk of losing employees across all five countries.

According to McKinsey, a global organizational management and consulting company, senior executives’ assumptions about the reasons why employees become disillusioned and resign do not align with employees’ perceptions. When employers were asked why people had quit, they cited compensation, work-life balance, and poor physical and emotional health. By contrast, the top three reasons why employees decided to quit were that they didn’t feel: 1) Valued by their organization (54 percent); 2) Heard by managers (52 percent); 3) A sense of belonging at work (51 percent). (Refer to the McKinsey’s report, ‘Great Attrition’ or ‘Great Attraction?’ The choice is yours.)

There’s a lot to digest here. To learn about ways WorkCare helps employers address employees’ health and safety concerns, contact us at info@workcare.com.

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