Table of Contents
Meaning and importance of employee well-being.
Challenges faced by HR Manager.
Three best practices/approaches an HR Manager may adopt
Analysis of Employee Well-being – Case Study from Amazon.
In today’s era where the scope of job opportunities has increased manifolds and various organization have been known to provide jobs with multitudes of monetary benefits along with other perks and privileges, it is still a common phenomenon to hear typical employee conversation often reflecting the stress and emotional draining at workplace despite getting good paychecks. This leads to asking whether as an employee an individual is really happy. The focus of the following report is to discuss the critical importance of employee well-being and psychosocial safety at the workplace. The discussion will be addressed by analyzing and identifying three major challenges faced by a Human Resource Manager in this regard. The report will also look into the case of Amazon to understand the issue in a focused way, following up with approaches an HR Manager may adopt. The report will be concluded with the summarization of key points.
The contemporary discussion on the progress of Human Resource Management is widely acknowledged in several aspects and employee well being at the workplace has increasingly gained critical attention among organizations. According to Huang et al., 2016 p. 299, employee well-being is defined as -
“The overall evaluation of one’s life, as the overall quality of an employee’s experience and functioning at work, including life satisfaction and positive affect which influence individual performance”.
Every business organization thrives essentially because of the investment it makes in its human resource capital (Yaris et al., 2020, p. 10949). While an organization may take several measures that majorly satisfy an employee on the monetary front, all of it, unfortunately, would not bear a positive outcome if the employee is not physically and mentally satisfied (Kowalski & Loretto, 2017, p. 2230). The importance of employee well being is based on the very premise that since an average adult spends most of his lifetime at the workplace, it is only fair for the person to want to be happy where they are (Mathews et al., 2016, p. 852). Various researches have successfully been able to refute the fact that says that if one is successful at work, they are presumably happy (Mathews et al., 2016, p 854). It has been found that success might be achieved by any means by an organization but to get a lasting and a positive impact at work, the health, well-being and happiness of an employee has to be addressed on priority.
For a Human Resource Manager, it is very important to lay focus on the importance of employee well-being. Not focusing on this issue can lead to several challenges. The report takes a look at three critical challenges that a Human Resource Manager may face in this regard –
In this regard, the case of one of biggest and measurably the most successful company, Amazon has been a stellar example to showcase that even if the company has good bottom lines and is at the peak of its financial success, it may not always be backed if the employees are not taken care of in the way they should be. In the case of Amazon, an article published in The New York Times in 2015, brought forth some stark revelations where many of Amazon employees testified against the company describing how "toxic" they felt the company's environment was as a consequence of which they left the job even if it meant detaching themselves from a well-reckoned brand (Kantor & Streitfeld, 2015).
Mental health problems if unattended at the workplace by HRM directly impacts productivity and can lead to a surge in absenteeism, negative association about the organization, loss of confidence, drop in skill-level, loss of employee morale and an overall reluctance towards work including personal life. The issue becomes challenging for a Human resource Manager especially in tackling issues of absence from work, increased medical cost due to complaints by employees regarding headaches, back pains or even issues of indigestion that may result due to prolonged sitting nature of the job and higher turnover which ultimately results in poor performance. The issue gets even further disturbed when psychological troubles such as stress, anxiety poor concentration at work poor decision making, panic attacks and depression start to surface. In this regard, the data collected by several countries substantiate the findings. The data from (Carolan et al., 2017), highlights mental health to be one of the causes of 58 per cent of work-related issues in countries like the Netherlands whereas nearly 40 per cent of absenteeism from work in the UK due to some form of mental illness.
As established, by creating an environment that essentially looks after the physical and mental well-being along with psychosocial safety a human resource manager can benefit the organization through increased productivity and improved bottom line. A Human Resource Manager can achieve this through following practices –
Despite being the company that is a market leader in its sector and hugely popular with customers for its strong delivery services and ability to provide a gamut of products, the e-retail giant Amazon led by CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos is not without controversy. The company has over the decades managed to mark its place in the mind and recall of customers across the globe and is reckoned to be one of the most successful companies that have even managed to thrive in the present scenario giving great results despite the challenge posed by COVID-19 (Semuels, 2020). However, the internal dynamics of the company narrated a completely different story. Back in 2015, a leading national newspaper, The New York Times, published an article that spoke extensively about the health and mental well-being of the employees working at Amazon, especially in their fulfilment centres (Kantor & Streitfeld, 2015). The revelations shared in the article were not in favour of the management at Amazon and had become a discussion point for many. According to the article, the employees working in Amazon referred to its workplace environment as toxic, stating that they felt being exploited in the workplace with absolutely no regard from the organization. Although the employees were paid fairly, the work demands according to them were highly unreasonable (Kantor & Streitfeld, 2015). The employees also shared concerns about being watched and tracked constantly and felt that the organization always made them feel "disposable" (Becker’s Healthcare, 2015).
Although, after the article, there were several steps taken by the company including an immediate response of defence from the CEO Jeff Bezos himself stating that he did not recognize the company that was mentioned in the article and felt that if there were concerns on this part, the employees were free to approach the top management, as they say, there is no smoke without fire (Yohn, 2018).
This case gives a clear picture of how mental well-being has in several known and unknown instances been ignored by the company and has led to it being questioned despite giving flourishing results. The management and the human resource department have an immense scope of improvement in the above scenario. For instance, apart from paychecks, the company has oddly no other benefits for its employees. As we know eventually an individual likes to work in a place where they can feel relaxed and respected. The company can incorporate health schemes for its employees, employ a larger rotational worker base so that the employees do not have to log in unreasonable work hours and can offer routine based health checkups and services to its employees so that they have a respite at the workplace and feel more connected with the organization.
The report is based on challenges faced by HR Managers regarding employee well-being and psychosocial safety at the workplace. Employee well-being is a very critical issue that needs to be addressed by all organizations in an effective manager. A dissatisfied and an employee with ignored mental health becomes unproductive and is likely to face several issues such as stress, anxiety, depression or health issues like obesity, diabetes or even cardiovascular diseases. The HR Managers have to face the challenge of high turnover and attrition rates, declined productivity including absenteeism and reluctance to work and affected bottom lines if the issue of mental health and illness are not taken care of. The report suggests three approaches an HR Manager can take to tackle the issue in a constructive manner that is likely to bring a positive impact. The approaches include a realistic emphasis on health issues and providing employees with a healthy and relaxing workplace with an implicit focus on the nutritional and physical well being as well. The HR Manager can arrange for counselling sessions that do not interfere through management so that the employee can feel secure and trust the counsellor regarding his issues thereby feeling more aligned to the workplace. The HR Manager can also offer supportive assistance to employees identified with mental health issues by proactive measures. The report also takes a critical assessment of the situation of mental health and well-being of employees at Amazon and how the company can take different approaches in solving the persisting issues faced by employees at the workplace.
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