Working in a time of layoffs and cutbacks is stressful for employees. But experts say keeping the workplace psychologically healthy is good for the bottom line.
“A lot of companies say, ‘We don’t have a lot of money; why should we be worrying about this?’” Arla Day, chair of the Psychologically Healthy Workplace Committee in Nova Scotia, said Wednesday. She argues it doesn’t have to cost a lot and can benefit staff and employers.
Her organization has recognized three employers for creating happy, healthy workplaces. “It costs nothing to treat people with respect, to listen to employees and have them involved,” Day added.
Mentally healthy employees are more productive and take fewer sick days. A good work environment cuts down on turnover, saving the company recruiting money.
“There is a business case for developing healthy workplaces,” Day said. “Spending the money upfront may seem risky, but the payback is great.”
Open-door policies, seeking employee feedback and offering flextime were some of the ways the top companies improved their workplaces.
The three winners were the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, the Staples Contact Centre in Lower Sackville and N.B. Power.
The college was the overall winner. It offers staff a “lunch and learn” series on health and wellness, provides flextime and summer hours, professional leave, and helps workers quit smoking. It also offers free and confidential psychological services, tuition reimbursement, fitness allowance and cross-training opportunities.
Speaking for the college, Dawn Miller said a lot of factors went into winning the award. The college invests in its employees, and that motivates staff to return the favour.
“It makes them feel, ‘This is what (the organization) is doing for me, so I will give the extra 100 per cent to the organization,” she explained. “Our staff are much happier, and when we have happy staff, they are much better at their jobs.”