April 7th of each year marks World Health Day, an awareness day set up by the World Health Organization in 1950 which aims to shine a light on contemporary health issues of the day. This year, the focus of World Health Day is building a fairer, healthier world for everyone, especially with the complications introduced by the global pandemic.
At OneLogin we have been thinking about what companies can and should do to ensure that every employee feels that their health - both physical and mental - has been taken into consideration. Here are some practices we’ve found helpful.
Foster a culture of openness
Health concerns can often be something that lurks in the shadows for people. Embarrassment or feelings of shame or guilt can easily manifest and create a situation where a person doesn’t feel comfortable sharing or acknowledging their health concerns. This can be particularly amplified in a workplace environment, where the added pressures of retaining a good working relationship are evident.
It’s up to organizations to foster a culture of openness, which extends to employees’ health. If employees feel confident that their health concerns will be taken seriously, they are more likely to come forward and speak to their employers about them.
Simultaneously, employers need to operate with extreme discretion and understand that there are times to ask questions about health, and times to avoid them; this will help all employees to feel safe, supported, and cared for when discussing health concerns with their employer.
Leave your preconceptions at the door
Health is a deeply personal issue for a lot of people. What some individuals might consider being in good health could be considered deeply unhealthy to other individuals. People’s hobbies, interests, belief systems, and faith backgrounds all feed into people’s perceptions of health.
However, these preconceptions are entirely subjective. For this reason, it’s of paramount importance that individuals - and the organization more broadly - keep their own preconceived notions about people’s health to themselves. This is particularly important around mental health, the stigma of which, although disappearing, has not entirely left us.
Realize that actions speak louder than words
While openness and a lack of preconceptions are undoubtedly important, they barely register when compared to ensuring that your organization takes action to make people’s health a priority. This means prioritizing access to healthcare, both physical and mental, as well as enacting policies that mean that the physical and mental health of your employees does not suffer. This can be as simple as encouraging time off for therapy appointments or offering yoga kits, or as important and complex as offering comprehensive insurance cover and flexible PTO. If you look after your employees, they will feel more connected to their organization, and in turn, will look after you.