Health and Safety: A Fundamental Business Foundation 0

Pankaj-Srivastava-

In addition to the workforce, office space, payroll, and other practical considerations, a safe and healthy workplace is a fundamental right of every person and also a business imperative. Organizations that prioritize the health, safety, and well-being of their employees, master organizational resilience and boost employee innovation, creativity, and agility.

India has the third-largest start-up ecosystem in the world and it is estimated that here, two to three tech start-ups are born every day. As this number increases, each of those organizations is competing for a smaller pool of investment, talent, and customers. This fervent competition can lead to start-up leaders feeling that both time and resources are extremely limited but no matter what type of business you want to start, there are some areas that cannot be overlooked.. In addition to the workforce, office space, payroll, and other practical considerations, there are some factors that might seem hidden to first-time business owners: these elements often relate to compliance around employee health, safety, and well-being and it is imperative that rather than being overlooked, these elements are approached in a way that goes beyond compliance with employees being put first.

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The like-minded people that work at your business will have a lot of enthusiasm and commitment to contribute to business goals, and consequently, they will invest and put in those additional working hours. However, this is not sustainable in the long run. In line with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, it is necessary to use the principles of basic, psychological, and fulfilment needs to create a framework to unlock the full potential of your people. By prioritizing employees, you ensure that your workplace is future-ready and sustainable because thriving employees who feel appreciated and fulfilled are at the core of a resilient company. Adopting these practices has numerous advantages including the following:

Reduce Risk and Ensure Continuity

Achieving decent, safe, healthy work creates working environments that positively impact productivity and reduce employee absences through injury or illness. It can help enhance talent recruitment and retention, it addresses poor or inconsistent quality, overcomes low productivity, boosts morale, and can help achieve compliance with legislation. A fundamental driver for investment in your people’s health, safety, and wellbeing is the improvement it can deliver for your organization’s reputation and brand equity – something that increases the likelihood of investment in your start-up. Compliance reinforces commitments to corporate social responsibility, supporting growth and further investment. Organizations can meet their people’s basic safety and physiological needs, reduce operational costs, avoid prosecution and litigation, increase organizational and workforce efficiency, and strengthen brand reputation.

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Route to Improved Performance 

Trust is at the heart of doing the right thing and demonstrates to internal and external stakeholders that you are prioritizing the psychological, as well as physical health, safety, and well-being of your people. In fact, it is essential for the psychological contract – the unwritten bond between worker and employer that unlocks motivation and potential – and supports both engagement and performance. Unlocking your people’s potential enhances organizational resilience, boosts innovation, creativity, and agility.

When people are prioritized, it helps to unlock stifled growth, address nagging quality and output issues, overcome poor productivity and skills shortages, enhance innovation and agility and reduce impacts from health and safety incidents and customer complaints. This can be done by implementing proactive risk management processes, enhancing brand reputation, and increasing growth, innovation and learning. Rewards, beyond just a pay packet, are also essential to show your appreciation to your workforce and other benefits like longer holiday time, collaborative work environments, etc need to be part of the reward package. This will help achieve an engaged, committed, and productive workforce that can deliver multiple returns of investment for the organization.

In line with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, it is necessary to use the principles of basic, psychological, and fulfilment needs to create a framework to unlock the full potential of your people. By prioritizing employees, you ensure that your workplace is future-ready and sustainable because thriving employees who feel appreciated and fulfilled are at the core of a resilient company.

A Strategic Driver of Organizational Resilience

In this ever-changing world, creating a culture where employees are empowered and trusted creates a loyal and creative workforce, attracts and retains the best high-performing talent. This enables the development of innovative solutions to grow the organization, ensuring that it is agile and future-ready. It also strengthens brand reputation and competitiveness and opens up new ethical investment opportunities.

There are four categories that organizations must consider with organizational resilience in mind: leadership, people, process, and product. Whilst all categories need to be effectively addressed, it is the leadership category that drives resilience, but it must be supported by the people category to achieve the organization’s goals, as this is where the culture of trust is created.

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Mastering organizational resilience means adopting best practices to deliver ongoing business improvement by building competence and capability across all parts of an organization. Against (all) expectations, a year of working from home increased the trust between people and their employers, as a “we’re all in this together” mentality took over. Productivity remained high or increased, and a new path was paved for a new approach that recognizes that people are critical to an organization’s long-term survival.

BSI’s recent Organizational Resilience Index 2021 found that organizations that prioritized the health, safety and well-being of employees, clients and communities over the last year were more resilient, not only weathering the disruption but going on to build back better more quickly. Flourishing workers who feel fulfilled are at the centre of resilient organizations. In the current Indian startup ecosystem, health and safety is still seen as the responsibility of the workers themselves, there are gaps in regulation and enforcement for employers. The value of looking after people is not recognized as a business benefit which reflects a lack of awareness and access to health and safety information and training and knowledge of rights. Organizations want to do the right thing but they’re not sure where to start and they’re not sure how to verify they’re getting it right. That’s where standards come in. They are a practical tool, developed by experts, that are specifically designed to help organizations navigate and deliver the best solutions in a given area. For health and safety, there is ISO 45001, Occupational Health and Safety Management systems, and published this summer, the supporting guideline standard, ISO 45003 on psychological health and safety. We are now living in the new normal and by using standards that focus on health and safety, all the evolving and emerging challenges can be met so that organizations can take advantage of the opportunities today and become future-ready – by being more trusted, resilient, and sustainable.

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BSI’s recent Organizational Resilience Index 2021 found that organizations that prioritized the health, safety and well-being of employees, clients and communities over the last year were more resilient, not only weathering the disruption but going on to build back better more quickly

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Pankaj Srivastava is the Whole Time Director of BSI India. He has wide experience of leading & managing high-performing Marketing & Business Development teams in India and globally for more than 27 years.

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