One of the biggest challenges facing many organizations today is the question of how to create a healthy and safe working environment. Admittedly, it is easier said than done. We can come up with grand plans and simply lack the resources to implement them or face other hardships along the way as well.
While there is not one clear-cut answer to this predicament, there are ways that we can overcome it. They are not always obvious to us, which is part of why I am here today. Our Human Resources department can be quite fundamental in this process. I find that they are often underutilized by most companies, as the assumption is that their primary (and only) role is to assist in the hiring process.
This is simply not true, as we can see here: https://open.lib.umn.edu/humanresourcemanagement/chapter/1-1-what-is-human-resources/. They can in fact serve several other functions, one of which is the cultivation of a healthier workspace. Since it is rarely thought of this way, though, I am going to shine a spotlight on it!
First Things First: What Makes a Workspace Healthy?
If you were to imagine a dream job, including the physical space in which you perform your tasks, what would it look like? Likely, every person reading this will have a different image come to mind. This is a part of what makes this concept a difficult one since at first glance it does appear like a subjective sort of question.
The reality, though, is that there are some objective parameters by which we can judge an office and how functional and healthy it is. The question now, then, is what that looks like! As is to be expected, there are a few facets to it.
We can wish that it was simple, but there are three key factors to consider as we develop a plan to promote a healthier workspace. These are the well-being of the organization, along with the environment that workers are in and their own individual moods and needs. Admittedly, taking all of them into account at the same time can be a challenge.
That is one of the reasons that having human resources assist in the process is so important. Otherwise, it is easy to get stuck on some of the finer details without tackling overarching problems. We sometimes call that “getting stuck in the mud,” though it might not sound glamorous.
How it Works
A lot of what makes the difference between a positive and a negative workspace comes down to the attitude of those in charge. It may not be something that we want to hear, but it is the truth. Now, bear in mind that I am not saying that managers and bosses cannot have bad days. That happens to everyone sometimes, and it cannot always be helped.
However, not taking it out on employees is a great first step to improving overall morale and atmosphere. Maintaining a positive attitude with the people working for you can make a huge difference in terms of their morale for the day. It also helps them feel more secure in coming to you about problems that they might be facing.
You see, that is another aspect of HR that we might not realize until it happens. Discrimination and harassment are both unfortunately a part of handling an organization, and you should probably have a no-tolerance policy toward them. That is highly encouraging (if not required) on a federal and local level in most states, and even across the globe, as you can read on this site.
Having a diverse office can bring a lot of benefits, too. Having a variety of perspectives when it comes to new ideas and innovations is often a valuable asset. Inclusivity also tends to improve overall mood levels and morale, as I briefly touched upon above. So, this is another reason why we need to let our employees know that we are safe to come to – otherwise, these issues could be happening right under our noses.
Improving HR Departments
Perhaps you have been wondering when I would get to the whole “training” part of this article. That is fair, but do not worry – the wait is over! One way that we can encourage this change in our organizations is by providing training for our human resources team. Most likely, they do already have some experience and understanding of the field, but something to keep in mind is that our world has changed a lot over the past few years.
This means that we all have to adjust and make some changes, including in this kind of job. Providing sessions like this can be beneficial for your whole organization, even if it is targeted at one department in particular. This will help employees feel more secure and included.