Creating a Healthy Work Environment

When you ask employees to define the term “Creating a Healthy Work Environment” you elicit a wide range of responses because these words have different meanings to different employees.

For a moment consider the type of work environment you would like to have your spouse, son or daughter working in. Would that environment be free of bias, prejudice, and inappropriate workplace humor? Should the walls of employees’ office or cubical be free of inappropriate posters, and calendars of scantily dressed individuals? Could they work in an environment that was free of fear, violence and intimidation? Will they have the right to disagree with their supervisor and/or manager without fear of reprisal? As they mature, will they need to worry about age discrimination, or if their health changes and they become disabled will they lose their job.

As you can see, the term “Creating a Healthy Work Environment,” covers a wide range of workplace issues.

It should be the goal of every manager or supervisor to create and maintain a professional working environment. Does that imply we can no longer bring humor into the office or shop area? Absolutely not! The workplace should be fun, but not at the expense of others. So where do we begin?

Let’s begin by taking a few minutes and examine the type of climate that exists within your work group. By now you realize how broad the term “healthy work environment” is. It’s not just a few issues, it’s far reaching and failure to place proper emphasis on creating this environment can have long term consequences.

Environmental Issues

1. Do employees treat others with respect and courtesy?
2. Are individual employees routinely excluded from functions?
3. Are sexually explicit or implicit comments routinely made by employees?
4. Do these remarks come from a few select individuals?
5. Is humor appropriate?
6. Are wall posters and displays suitable to the workplace setting?
7. Are there unreported incidents of workplace violence?
8. Are employees fearful of another employee?
9. Are there employees who others characterize as a bully?
10. Are intimidating gestures overlooked and/or tolerated?
11. Is workplace aggression camouflaged as horseplay?
12. Is horseplay allowed?

Your answers to these questions will enable you to evaluate the general health of your work group. If you see a pattern developing as you review your answers don’t expect the problem to go away. They will not, and they will only become more severe because your silence gives consent for the behavior to continue. Don’t wait for the next incident before you take action. Be proactive and take action now. If you are unsure how to proceed then contact your supervisor or manager.