In the past, workplace health has been discussed in very limited terms, and rarely in connection with quality initiatives. But recently, and rightly so, workplace health is taking a more holistic approach. Occupational health and safety, employee assistance programs (EAPs), continuous learning, and group benefits that provide immediate income protection and funds for retirement are all vital to healthy and productive workplaces. Yet it is being understood and proven by an increasing number of workplaces that health in the shop or on the floor starts not with products, but with the underlying relationship. And like any relationship, there needs to be commitment on both sides to foster and support a healthy environment.

With that commitment, three key ingredients will sustain a healthy workplace. The prime ingredient: open communication. Each side has to acknowledge and respect the needs of the other. Employers must be fully truthful of the job requirements and expectations; employees need to provide full disclosure of skills, abilities, and health issues. This two-way honesty is the pillar upon which the relationship is built. A crack in the pillar brings the relationship crashing down, usually with disastrous financial and personal results.

The second ingredient: the needs of the employer – essentially revenue with profit, efficient employees to help generate that revenue, satisfied customers, and income protection in the event of illness, disability, retirement, or sudden death. Careful human resource management, financial planning, and insurance protection can meet these needs and add to overall workplace health.

The third ingredient: the needs of the employee, because, while the employer must be successful to maintain the job, the employee must be successful to support the employer. An employee needs and deserves a reasonable income. But that’s not all. An employee also needs a career path – options for personal and professional growth – and peace of mind that in the event of sudden illness, disability, or death, loved ones and estate will be protected.

Viewed in this light, maintaining a healthy workplace is akin to maintaining a peaceful home life or enjoyable social activity. The workplace becomes a place both employer and employees want to be, valuable now for productivity and in the future as a way to attract and retain key employees.

In short, a healthy workplace gives an immeasurable return on investment and is essential to any quality initiative. Best of all, it is within reach for any employer that wants to reach out and nurture a healthy workplace.

Alastriona (Alastra) Gifford  is an HR Associate at Velsoft Training Materials.