Making Ethics, Safety, & Wellness a Workplace Priority

There is no easy way to say it: our organizations simply are coming up way short in terms of making ethics, safety, and wellness a workplace priority.

The results should not surprise any of us; worker dissatisfaction and engagement are at all-time lows in virtually every meaningful survey that is conducted. The unanswered question is why aren’t leaders attacking this problem that directly punishes their bottom-line, competitiveness, and reputation?

One of my colleagues and a true wingman, Dr. Larry Barton, has made a career of studying threat management, workplace violence prevention, risk assessment, crisis management, and employee wellness.

At his annual Barton Safety Summit attended by many Fortune 500 organizations, I heard sobering statistics and trends that any leader worth his/her salt better wrap their heads around. Some of the highlights were the following:

  1. E.A.P. (Employee Assistance Programs) providers are reporting that substance abuse is up 32%. Marijuana, alcohol, prescription drugs, and OTC drugs are the most commonly abused substances. What are employers doing in the way of detection, active dialogue with workers, and providing meaningful help?
  2. Domestic violence and protective orders increased 29%. While no employer can be expected to observe employees in their homes, they are able to watch and monitor them during work hours to assess potential problems.
  3. Separation of difficult employees increased 18%. Multiple departments in companies are now spending precious resources to determine the nature and severity of more employees- what is the performance issue, what kind of attitude/philosophy toward conduct was in play, and what was done by the specific department to deal with it?
  4. Employees with emotional distress and suspected breakdowns on/off-site increased 21%. What role is our mental health system playing, how do medications impact this, and what are available assistance programs doing to help?

If employees are the most valuable assets an organization have besides customers, these trends cannot continue to grow.

It would be irresponsible for me to not point out that ethics training and awareness continues to take a strategic backseat to other company initiatives and objectives. While the number of ethics codes and training has increased in organizations, most employees continue to report a dual system of enforcement and accountability.

Almost fifty percent of employees surveyed report that policies, procedures, and ethics guidelines are understood but manipulated for personal gain.

The upside to making ethics, safety, and wellness a workplace priority cannot be understated in any way. We can do a whole lot better and our time is now.

My friends please remember this: respect, consideration, and courtesy matter a lot. Treat others fairly, decently, and equally.

Consult your moral compasses every chance you get and monitor your progress.

You know the battle cry: do your best each day. No one can ask more or less from any of us.

All the best/blessings, Mark

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