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Companies can save more than $1 billion annually by becoming healthier workplaces

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Promoting practices aimed at making companies healthy workplaces can bring tremendous benefits to organizations. In an interview with JE magazine, Francisco Miranda Rodrigues, president of the Portuguese Psychologists' Guild, outlined these advantages.

The Portuguese Psychologists' Association (OPP) promotes, among companies, the development of healthy workplaces that contribute to the safety, well-being and physical and mental health of their employees.

Furthermore, this entity distinguishes between companies and organizations that contribute positively in two aspects: prevention of psychosocial risks and promotion of healthy workplaces and occupational health.

In an interview with JE, Francisco Miranda Rodrigues, President of the OPP, explained the impact on the corporate economy that organizations may feel by adopting these measures, but also what changes will occur in terms of payrolls and even company value.

How do you define a healthy workplace?

According to the World Health Organization, a healthy workplace is one where all members of the organization (employers, managers and workers) collaborate with the aim of continuously improving processes to protect and promote health, safety and well-being. The award and the distinguished seals granted by the Portuguese Psychologists' Association are considered an acknowledgment of the efforts made by the organizations in this regard. It is not a certificate that everything is fine. It's never okay. But this search for improvement and some organizational standards must be recognized and encouraged, as well as set as an example for all.

What are the key concerns companies must have to be healthy workplaces?

Organizations must be interested in knowing the health situation in their workplaces, establishing systematic and regular processes to assess psychological and social risks, as well as developing prevention plans in accordance with their reality. This preventive intervention can be at the level of: the work and its tasks, such as trying to ensure that the workload matches people's skills; or at the level of the organization and its operations, such as having a zero-tolerance policy toward discriminatory behavior; Or even at the level of interpersonal relationships, where managers receive training on dealing with personal problems that may affect the professional performance of employees; In addition to professional and career development issues, to recognize or reconcile personal life and work. These are just some examples.

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What impact could these measures have on the corporate economy?

Considering only the direct, almost always unaccounted, costs incurred by companies, which affect their productivity and sustainability, these measures could save, according to conservative estimates, more than a billion euros annually for Portuguese private companies, not counting the financial sector.

Does talent retention require companies to take measures to retain the best in their employees?

This is increasingly becoming more of a differentiator: the bottom line for many talents, especially from Generation Z, is to just not accept the organization's proposal or stay there. “What mental health promotion programs do they have available?” It is becoming an increasingly crucial question.

What risks do companies face that do not promote healthy work environments?

In addition to losing the race to attract and connect talent and having their leaders make mistakes, at least ethical ones, because of the impact on the health of the people who work there (because of the way they manage their work), there is a loss of productivity and a decrease in the long-term sustainability of the organization. According to the OECD, in 2021, stress cost European economies 4% of GDP and 600 billion euros. In Portugal, in 2022, stress and other mental health problems cost private companies in the non-financial sector, in direct costs alone, €5.3 billion, according to an estimate conducted by the Attorney General's Office and published in the Prosperity and Sustainability for Organizations report.

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