At Siemens, we highly value health and safety, both for our own employees and when working with our customers to facilitate safe environments of their own. In observance of the World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we’re happy to share some information with you about how to make your working environment sustainable for your health and safety. We focus on these five core principles to a healthy and safe work environment – Well-Being, Psychological Safety, Inclusion, Learning, and Resilience. Let’s work together for better health, because #YouMakeTheDifference.
Physical and mental well-being affect both our personal and professional lives. And an event happening in one will most likely carry into the other in some form. Caring about well-being means demonstrating empathy, having meaningful conversations, and knowing when and how to ask for help from those around you or give help to those in need. This might mean working on a process to remove the likelihood of a repetitive injury or creating a healthy environment while working from home. The what and the how will be different for everyone, but well-being is important to any healthy and sustainable work environment.
Mental health requires an open dialogue within the work environment, just like general well-being. Employees must feel safe to speak up without fear so that we can understand the situations together, creating better opportunities to take action. One in four people are affected by a mental health issue in their lives, but 70 percent of those individuals do not get appropriate help, out of fear of stigmatization. And, while the psychological safety discussion may begin in the workplace, individual health competence should be promoted across all dimensions of our lives, to create a balanced life.
The health and safety of work is best understood when every voice is involved in the process. The views, opinions, and expertise of a diverse group create a more beneficial collective knowledge to find solutions that may not have been obvious otherwise. Inclusion is important not only socially, but in the physical space as well, when it comes to creating safe labor processes. The physical workplace should be healthy and safe for all members of a team. When creating an ergonomic factory environment this may mean modeling the actions with a diverse population to remove over-extensions or repetitive motions employed to counter a task difficulty. The same process is used for making products for a diverse population, but in this case the workplace is the product being optimized.
The workplace is like a product, subject to constant iterations, with each cycle bringing greater complexity and shorter timespans. Keeping up with these changes to create a healthy and safe environment requires learning. Growing our knowledge and building our capabilities are essential to innovate safely in the work environment. That might take the form of reading information on health and safety, or it might take a more futuristic path as General Motors has done with virtual reality (VR). A virtual manufacturing environment can teach employees about proper techniques, but it can also teach the company how people are most likely to interact with the systems. VR enables learning from both viewpoints of a task to make a safer environment for everyone.
We live in a highly dynamic world and work happens differently every day. The ability of our people and business to prepare for and adapt to unexpected or unplanned circumstances has a huge impact on whether work is carried out in a healthy and safe manner. This is the shorter-term version of learning. Instead of implementing change based on present input, the work environment needs to be flexible to accommodate the variability of work. Our focus on digitalization has had a profound impact on establishing this flexibility internally and has helped many companies overcome challenges presented to them over the past few years.
For this year’s World Day for Safety and Health at Work, we hope you take some time to reflect on these core principles. Creating a sustainable working environment is critical for all parties involved. If you would like to continue the conversation about creating a safe and healthy work environment, reach out to us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram with the tag #YouMakeTheDifference. Or you can continue the conversation at work with some of these questions:
What is something you do to care for the well-being of others at work?
Have you ever experienced any barriers that prevented you from contributing to a workplace discussion or meeting? What happened?
Do you solve problems on your own or do you actively seek out the input of others?
Did you learn anything unexpected recently with regards to health, safety and well-being? If so, what was it and how have you used this?
What aspects of your work help/hinder your own personal resilience?