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Human Resource Management

Table of Contents

Introduction.

Discussion.

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.

Conclusion.

References.

Introduction to Employee Well-Being and Psychosocial Safety

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.

Discussion on Employee Well-Being and Psychosocial Safety

Meaning and Importance of Employee Well-Being

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.

Challenges faced by the HR Manager

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 –

  1. Higher Turnover Rate – The most obvious and the biggest challenge that becomes a bottleneck in the measure of an organization’s success is high turnover rate and studies have found that much of it has to do with affected/ignored well-being of an employee (Al, 2019, p. 1240). If an employee is not happy at the workplace or faces issues that lead up to mental exhaustion causing stress, anxiety, depression, illness or other lifestyle diseases such as obesity or diabetes etcetera, it does not reflect very well on the organization (Yunita & Saputra, 2019, p. 106). With a plethora of job opportunities abound, a dissatisfied employee is quick to detach themselves from an organization and work somewhere else (Travis et al., 2015, p. 1077; Mahfooz et al., 2017, p. 399). This poses a significant burden on the Human Resource department.
  1. The basic challenge an HR Manager faces is the cost of hiring a new person. It becomes more burdensome if the position is faced with a shortage of talent pool which means rehiring may become longer posting advertisements for a longer time or increasing the scope of rehiring outside local boundaries which implies an additional increase in cost (Mahfooz et al., 2017, p. 402).
  2. The situation may further go against the organization, if they are unable to find the right recruit and therefore have to settle for a candidate with not so promising potential further cascading into training and development (Charles‐Pauvers, 2020, p. 58).
  3. The HR department may also have to indulge in defending the workplace culture in case the parting employee shares negative feedback outside of the organization (Pawar, 2016, p. 5).

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).

  1. Decrease in productivity of existing employees – Not only do HR Managers face challenges while managing departing employees as stated above, but they also have to deal with the conflicts within the organization caused by non/lesser emphasis on mental well-being and psychosocial safety of the present working employees (Asamoah-Appiah & Aggrey-Fynn, 2017, p. 15). The mental health of the employee is as crucial as physical safety yet sometimes organizations tend to lay more focus on the physical safety aspects thereby not giving mental well-being its due importance (Wang et al., 2020, p. 1056). Studies indicate that poor mental health and various stressing factors at the workplace can lead to many kinds of illness such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular conditions and hypertension among several others. The critical point to note here is that ignored mental health can lead to work-based exhaustion among employees also referred to as 'burnout effect' which hugely impacts the work done by the individual (Yavas et al., 2018, p. 2).

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.

  1. Impact on the financial bottom line of the organization – Unfortunately, this is a challenge that does not necessarily show up as a typical section in a company's financials but has a significant impact on the bottom line. As discussed earlier, ignorance on the mental and psychological well-being of an employee gives rise to critical cost factors of rehiring, training, advertisements and other operational expenses (Steelcase, 2017). This gets further disturbed when the feedback in the external environment shared by the employee does not favour the organization. The impact of such costs has a larger bearing on stakeholder management and can affect the decision of investors to be associated with the company since weak human resource management reflected through employee well being and workplace culture means a weak business too (Cvenkel, 2018, p. 77; Mehmood et al., 2020, p. 58). The Human Resource Manager thus has the challenge to manage and retain the employees and also identify various effective measures (such as investment in health schemes etcetera) to ensure that the employee is taken care of on the mentioned counts. According to Mehmood et al., 2020, p. 60, a significant expenditure on employee well-being by the organization can help it cut down on hiring and training expenditure as the latter is rather higher costs than the former.

Three Best Practices/approaches an Hr Manager May Adopt

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 –

  1. Realistic emphasis on Health of the employee at the workplace – A Human Resource Manager can think beyond the conventions and make changes in the workplace that focus on the health and vitality of the employees (Chenoweth, 2019, p. 11). An HR Manager can do so by
    1. Encouraging people to cut out prolonged sitting stretches and stand and take strolls. The manager can also incorporate the elements of natural environment such as grasses and plantations around strategic areas of the workplace to make the environment more relaxing and relating for an employee. This is proposed because employees spend more than 6 hours at a workplace and get affected by the office environment (Freak-Poli et al., n.d., p. 3).
    2. Employ reminders on desktop computers to get hydrated at regular intervals. It has been found that dehydration can also be one of the reasons affecting the health of an employee at the workplace. Although it is a small strategy it can be effective in the overall purpose (Carolan et al., 2017).
    3. Encourage healthy eating habits by providing healthy snacks – this can help in mitigating the underlying health issues of obesity or diabetes among many others (The, 2020).
  1. Provision of free and non-interfered counselling sessions for employees – This approach can let the employees feel secure and heard at the workplace. Often the stress at the workplace can be overbearing and many times the employees are not able to discuss the issues with a colleague or a superior due to several reasons of hesitation. The HR Manager can arrange for a counselling doctor who can be available to hear and counsel the employees regularly (McCarthy & Ford, 2020, pp. 260 - 264). The HR Manager can also ensure exclusive confidentiality and non-disclosure of discussions conducted by the counsellor so that the employee can be certain that his issues even if they are against the management are not heard by any other entity. Venting out of feelings can help the employees in relieving stress and emotional or mental baggage they may have. It can also help them in staying committed to work and organization (McCarthy & Ford, 2020, pp. 260-264).
  1. Offering support to employees with mental health issues – The HR Managers must constantly as part of their job responsibility keep track of what the employees are feeling about the workplace and thus come to know which employees are going through problems that can eventually hamper their mental health (Travis et al., 2015, p. 1090). In this regard, the HR managers must take the assistance of departmental managers and team leaders (as the case may be) and encourage them to develop mentoring relations with their subordinates. Upon understanding that an employee is going through an issue that has an overbearing effect on his mental and psychological well-being, the HR managers can offer relaxations and strategic time-outs that the employees can exercise to seek relaxations and have a constructive meeting and discussions to analyze the cause of issues and corrective actions that may be taken on both managers and employees end (Travis et al., 2015, p. 1090). This can help employees feel safe and secure at the workplace and the employee can feel more aligned with the workplace without the fear of getting judged or fired from the job.

Analysis of Employee Well-being – Case Study from Amazon

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.

Conclusion on Employee Well-Being and Psychosocial Safety

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.

References for Employee Well-Being and Psychosocial Safety

Al, D. I. G. S. et. (2019). Impact of work-life balance and stress on attrition. Journal of the Gujarat Research Society21(10), 1240–1247. http://www.gujaratresearchsociety.in/index.php/JGRS/article/view/953/784

Asamoah-Appiah, W., & Aggrey-Fynn, I. (2017). The impact of occupational stress on employee’s performance: A study at Twifo Oil Palm Plantation Limited. African Journal of Applied Research (AJAR)3(1), 14–25. http://www.ajaronline.com/index.php/AJAR/article/view/195

Ashford, M. (2020). Amazon Flexed: Delivering Smiles (and Exploitation). https://ojs.leedsbeckett.ac.uk/index.php/SOC/article/view/4601

Becker’s Healthcare. (2015, August 17). 9 key issues with Amazon’s corporate culture: Beckershospitalreview.Com. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/hospital-management-administration/9-key-issues-with-amazon-s-corporate-culture.html

Bolander, J. (2016, December 21). INFOGRAPH: Why Hydration is Essential for Your Employees. https://www.thedailymba.com/2016/12/21/infograph-why-hydration-is-essential-for-your-employees/

Carolan, S., Harris, P. R., & Cavanagh, K. (2017). Improving employee well-being and effectiveness: Systematic review and meta-analysis of web-based psychological interventions delivered in the workplace. Journal of Medical Internet Research19(7). https://doi.org/10.2196/jmir.7583

Charles‐Pauvers, B. (2020). Employee turnover: HRM challenges to develop commitment and job satisfaction. Shapes of Tourism Employment, 55–66. https://doi.org/10.1002/9781119751342.ch4

Chenoweth, D. (2019). SHRM Foundation’s Effective Practice Guidelines Series Promoting Employee Well-Being Wellness Strategies to Improve Health, Performance and the Bottom Line. https://www.shrm.org/foundation/ourwork/initiatives/the-aging-workforce/Documents/Promoting%20Employee%20Well-Being.pdf

Cvenkel, N. R. (2018). Employee well-being at work: Insights for business leaders and corporate social responsibility. Stakeholders, Governance and Responsibility14, 71–90. https://doi.org/10.1108/s2043-052320180000014004

Freak-Poli, R., Brand, M., Boelsen-Robinson, T., Huse, O., de Courten, M., & Peeters, A. (n.d.). Development and piloting of a Checklist for healthy eating And Physical Activity in the Workplace (CEPAW). Health Promotion International. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/daaa026

Huang, L.-C., Ahlstrom, D., Lee, A. Y.-P., Chen, S.-Y., & Hsieh, M.-J. (2016). High-performance work systems, employee well-being, and job involvement: An empirical study. Personnel Review45(2), 296–314. https://doi.org/10.1108/pr-09-2014-0201

Kantor, J., & Streitfeld, D. (2015, August 15). Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html

Kowalski, T. H. P., & Loretto, W. (2017). Well-being and HRM in the changing workplace. The International Journal of Human Resource Management28(16), 2229–2255. https://doi.org/10.1080/09585192.2017.1345205

Mahfooz, Z., Arshad, A., Nisar, Q. A., Ikram, M., & Azeem, M. (2017). Does workplace incivility & workplace ostracism influence the employees’ turnover intentions? The mediating role of burnout and job stress & moderating role of psychological capital. International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences7(8), 398–413. https://doi.org/10.6007/ijarbss/v7-i8/3244

Mathews, C., Khann, I., Sarode, A., & Shrisath, M. (2016). Impact of work environment on performance of employees in manufacturing sector in India: Literature review. International Journal of Science and Research (IJSR)5(4), 852–855. https://doi.org/10.21275/v5i4.nov162579

McCarthy, M. G., & Ford, D. J. (2020). Integrating evidenced-based counselling interventions into employee development and training: A narrative discussion on counselling professionals and business owners working together to better serve the employee and workplace environment. TechTrends64(2), 260–264. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-019-00450-x

Mehmood, K. K., Rasheed, R., & Javeria Jaan. (2020). How does stakeholders pressure affect organization performance and employee wellbeing? Study of multiple mediating roles. Journal of Business and Social Review in Emerging Economies6(1), 55–68. https://doi.org/10.26710/jbsee.v6i1.1026

Pawar, B. S. (2016). Workplace spirituality and employee well-being: an empirical examination. Employee Relations38(6), 975–994. https://doi.org/10.1108/er-11-2015-0215

Semuels, A. (2020). Many Companies Won’t Survive the Pandemic. Amazon Will Emerge Stronger Than Ever. Time. https://time.com/5870826/amazon-coronavirus-jeff-bezos-congress/

Steelcase. (2017, July 14). Wellbeing: A Bottom Line Issue. Steelcase. https://www.steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/wellbeing/wellbeing-a-bottom-line-issue/

The, E. (2020, March 3). Promoting Nutrition & Healthy Eating in the Workplace. Rise. https://risepeople.com/blog/healthy-eating-in-the-workplace/

Travis, D. J., Lizano, E. L., & Mor Barak, M. E. (2015). ‘I’m So Stressed!’: A longitudinal model of stress, burnout and engagement among social workers in child welfare settings. British Journal of Social Work46(4), 1076–1095. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bct205

Wang, Z., Zaman, S., Rasool, S. F., Zaman, Q. uz, & Amin, A. (2020). Exploring the relationships between a toxic workplace environment, workplace stress, and project success with the moderating effect of organizational support: empirical evidence from Pakistan. Risk Management and Healthcare Policy13, 1055–1067. https://doi.org/10.2147/RMHP.S256155

Yaris, C., Ditchburn, G., Curtis, G. J., & Brook, L. (2020). Combining physical and psychosocial safety: A comprehensive workplace safety model. Safety Science132, 104949. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2020.104949

Yavas, U., Karatepe, O. M., & Babakus, E. (2018). Does positive affectivity moderate the effect of burnout on job outcomes? An empirical investigation among hotel employees. Journal of Human Resources in Hospitality & Tourism17(3), 360–374. https://doi.org/10.1080/15332845.2018.1449548

Yohn, D. L. (2018, March 13). Amazon proves company culture doesn’t need to be “warm and fuzzy” to be effective. Quartz at Work; Quartz. https://qz.com/work/1227352/amazon-proves-company-culture-doesnt-need-to-be-warm-and-fuzzy-to-be-effective/

Yunita, P. I., & Saputra, I. G. N. W. H. (2019). Millennial generation in accepting mutations: Impact on work stress and employee performance. International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities3(1), 102–114. https://doi.org/10.29332/ijssh.v3n1.268

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