Employee health and wellbeing is not just an emerging topic in the EHS field, but one that is quickly gaining momentum. Research, medical, and academic groups are pioneering the concept of integrated health and safety, which is the blending of health and safety programs along a continuum of organizational, personal, and occupational activities to enhance overall worker wellbeing and prevent work-related injuries and illnesses. Underlying this definition is the belief that a true culture of health and safety is dependent on not only a strong safety program, but also a program that focuses on worker wellbeing. Campbell Institute members have already signed on to this belief, which is why many have had wellbeing programs in place for several years.
The Campbell Institute has conducted a research study on worker wellbeing programs at Institute participant organizations. Nine organizations were interviewed about the development, implementation, and lessons learned of workplace wellbeing and safety initiatives. The five key takeaways from the research are:
Pilot health and wellbeing programs with stakeholder input
Craft good communication
Experiment with incentive structures
Engage employees through organized activities
Connect wellbeing to safety
This paper outlines the major successes and challenges Campbell Institute organizations have experienced when developing and maintaining their wellbeing programs. Additionally, this paper addresses other issues for further discussion, such as the difficulty in calculating a return on investment for wellbeing programs, and some of the barriers to truly integrating health and wellbeing with occupational safety.
The business case for workplace safety is well documented and has been argued for by safety professionals and organizations, including the Campbell Institute and its participants. The latest focus for maintaining a sustainable business enterprise has moved beyond just workplace safety to include overall employee health and wellness. With the advent of recent programs like NIOSH Total Worker Health® and academic partnerships between American College of Occupational Medicine (ACOEM) and UL (Loeppke et al., 2015), it is obvious that employee health and wellbeing is not just an emerging topic, but one that is quickly gaining momentum.