Employee health should be a priority for businesses, but instead, it’s a growing ethical problem. Instead of helping employees feel better, they’re often put in dangerous or unhealthy situations.
When employees stay sick, they’re not as productive. They might also miss work, which hurts the business too. It’s an ethical problem that businesses should want to solve as quickly as possible to increase productivity, employee satisfaction and profits.
Unsafe Work Conditions
Despite clear guidelines, many businesses still cut corners when it comes to employee safety. This can mean not providing them with proper equipment. Employees might breathe in harmful fumes or deal with constant loud noises that give them debilitating headaches. Of course, there’s also the risk for any number of physical injuries that could lead to poor health for the rest of an employee’s life.
Businesses do this to save money. It’s a common tactic, but one that puts employee health second to everything else. Another issue is businesses may also actively prevent from getting worker’s compensation after an injury.
Work While Sick
Employees often work while sick, even if they’re contagious. Why? Employers threaten them. They know if they call in sick, they could be fired. Or, the employer doesn’t provide any type of paid sick days. Either way, employees are left to either work and risk getting sicker or lose money and even their job.
What businesses may not realize is doing this hurts the business. More employees can get sick. Firing employees means spending more money on training.
Unethical Wellness Policies
Some businesses are so concerned with employee health that they implement highly unethical wellness policies. While health and wellness policies on their own aren’t unethical, it’s all in what’s in the policy and how the company enforces it. For instance, firing employees for not losing enough weight is unethical. Or, requiring employees to wear fitness trackers 24/7 to prove they’re exercising enough isn’t exactly ethical either. Sadly, in one study, 60% of employers stated they’d penalize any unhealthy employees.
This can often damage the health of employees. The sudden stress of trying to meet required fitness and diet requirements actually makes employees feel worse. A moderate policy that offers health and wellness options at work to make it easier for employees to live a healthier life is a much more ethical approach.
Employers constantly demand more from their employees. However, a person can only do so much in a set amount of time. Overworking them just leads to poor results and poor health. Employers still threaten employees who don’t comply. If they can’t meet unrealistic productivity standards, they’ll be fired.
For some employees, this means taking work home and working all evening or all night just to stay caught up. Others are forced to work overtime, even if they can’t physically handle it. For example, someone with a back injury might not be able to work 12-16 hours a day safely.
Employee health doesn’t need to be a growing ethical problem. No one wins when employee health doesn’t come first. Whistleblowing is usually the first line of defense to combat this issue.