Bring up wellness during HR policy drafting with SMEs

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Sixty-six per cent of respondents to Morneau Shepell’s annual survey on trends in human resources say improving the health and engagement of employees is a top priority for 2016, up from 53% last year.

Randal Phillips, executive vice president and chief client officer at Morneau Shepell, says there is a strong link between the coping skills and health of employees and how engaged they are at work.

Gord MacDonald, principal at Gord MacDonald HR Solutions in Toronto, agrees. He urges business owners to act on health because it’s a core part of corporate culture, which can attract and retain employees. “Be mindful that it’s not always about where the next revenue dollar is coming from or cutting expenses … Retaining employees for small business is critical, because [employees] gain lots of knowledge and expertise about the company, and you don’t want to lose them.”

To reinforce the link between health and engagement, he provides his small business clients with employee survey results from broad-based data sources, such as Towers Watson or Corporate Leadership Council. And with online tools like SurveyMonkey, clients can easily conduct their own employee survey on wellness in the workplace, and then analyze and respond to the results.

Lisa Kay, president of Peak Performance Human Resources in Toronto, says, “[Wellness] has come up for me with a number of clients already … It is a priority and becoming more so as the population continues to age, and people remain in the workforce for longer.”

Policy matters

Kay says the topic of wellness can be brought up with clients when helping them develop their human resources policies.

Often, establishing sound policies is something small businesses haven’t taken the time to develop, contributing to a stressful workplace.

MacDonald says to remind small business owners to read the Employment Standards Act, the Occupational Health and Safety Act, and the Human Rights Code. “You don’t need to memorize it or understand it from A to Z,” says MacDonald. But learning about compliance requirements often results in quick fixes to problem policies or practices.

Once policies are in place, Kay says they must be clearly communicated to employees. And MacDonald says to apply policies consistently to ensure equal treatment of employees, which contributes to employee wellness.

Transcontinental Media G.P.