A 5-part toolkit to promote worker well-being
Improving the health and well-being of workers has traditionally been seen as the responsibility of the employee, especially when it comes to adapting to stressors at work.
But a new toolkit for employers from MIT Sloan and researchers at Harvard University goes beyond incentive group yoga sessions and promotional discounts on gyms, and instead reframe the poor well-being of workers like a treatable symptom of an unhealthy work environment.
Designed by MIT Professor Sloanand Meg Lovejoy of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, the toolkit includes actionable steps and resources to help managers give employees more control over their jobs, reduce excessive work demands and improve relationships. social in the workplace.
Using the toolkit, managers can learn how to foster worker well-being and create a healthy work culture, write the co-authors. Healthy employees have less health care expenses, are more productive, and have lower absenteeism and turnover rates.
The five parts of the toolkit are:
- Overview – Designing work for health: a promising approach to worker well-being. The toolkit is based on “the way workplace practices and relationships are designed and organized,” write the co-authors. This approach includes features such as identifying the root causes of poor worker health and partnerships between employees and management.
- Job Design Principle 1 – Give employees more control over their work. According to the co-authors, it is stressful not to have a say in where, when or how your daily tasks are performed. Stress caused by poor job control (and the high job demands that come with it) is linked to higher levels of employee absences and lateness, not to mention a greater risk of heart attack.
- Work Design Principle 2 – Tame excessive work demands. The demands of the job come in many forms: deadlines, complex decision-making, prolonged physical labor. Without a supportive environment, these demands can lead to employee burnout, the co-authors write, as well as injury or even serious illness.
- Work Design Principle 3 – Improve social relations in the workplace. Social relationships in the workplace can offer benefits such as emotional support and protection from stressors at work, the co-authors write. These connections contribute to happy, healthy and productive employees.
- Plan and implement a work-for-health design approach. This toolkit is not a one-size-fits-all solution, however, there are a few steps anyone can take to get started: advocate for change within your organization; encourage employee participation; create an action plan; and invite feedback on the workplace change process.
Explore the toolkit case studies and more detailed resources through the Work and Wellbeing Initiative, a joint effort between Harvard and MIT. Additional co-authors are Lisa Berkman and Laura Kubzansky, both of Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.