Improve Your Workforce’s Health and Safety: Why Access to Resources Matters
To make a difference in our communities, it is essential to focus on the safety and mental health of our mission-critical workforce.
- By Jonathan Cherins
- May 17, 2023
The news cycle these days is often filled with stories that leave us feeling discouraged and even horrified. From school shootings to rising mental health issues, it can be difficult to maintain a positive outlook.
Shockingly, nearly one in five American adults will experience a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year. Additionally, 46 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, with half of those people developing conditions by the age of 14. These types of statistics are eye-opening and highlight the need for more training in the workplace on topics as direct as mental health awareness, but also those that are connected to our mental health, such as trauma, stress management, and depression.
The workplace is a complex environment, wrought with a unique set of potential risks and hazards. Employees rely on their employers to provide them with the information and resources they need to stay safe on the job, not just physically but also mentally. Business leaders have a legal and ethical obligation to ensure their workforces have access to critical health and safety data, such as safety protocols and occupational health resources.
Critical Issues and Challenges That Still Need Addressing
There are many issues and challenges in our world today that businesses should be looking at ways to help. One issue that is particularly pressing and close to our hearts is the rise in gun violence, both in K-12 and higher education institutions. Additionally, recent devastating gun violence incidents in places of business, such as the deadly Louisville bank shooting in April 2023, have further highlighted the importance of addressing this issue. The crises Americans are facing today are multifaceted and, unfortunately, there is no singular solution to these complex problems. However, training communities can play a significant role in preventing such incidents. This includes providing mental health education, so individuals seek help before they take drastic actions, educating communities on how to respond during a crisis, and providing resources for trauma healing and post-incident management.
As our society faces these challenges, it is crucial that businesses and individuals with resources, expertise, and passion come together to make a difference. Education and training are key underpinnings to help prevent, manage, and understand these critical issues, keeping our mission-critical workforce safe and healthy.
Making a Difference in Our Workforce and Communities - What’s Working and What Isn’t?
While there are numerous health and safety training programs available for today’s workforce, many of them focus on topics such as how to properly wear PPE or the dangers of confined spaces. While physical safety in the workplace is paramount, it is important to recognize that the full range of safety also encompasses mental health, well-being, and broader societal issues that can impact employees, their families, and their communities. In fact, a study conducted by Mental Health America shows that four in five employees report that workplace stress affects their relationships with friends, family, and co-workers. To best address the wide range of challenges today’s workers face, companies should actively seek out well-designed and thoroughly developed educational content that can address the complete spectrum of safety and wellness for their workforce.
Businesses with the means to provide such training have a responsibility to do so in order to support the safety and well-being of workers and their communities. In March 2023, Vector Solutions announced the launch of Vector Cares, a social good program that combines Vector Solutions’ existing world-class technology and capabilities to serve its communities with complimentary online courses on critical topics. The selected courses cover a range of safety and well-being topics and were chosen to serve as a resource for individuals who want to learn more and make their organizations and communities a better place.
The Vector Cares program offers 26 complementary courses that focus on keeping students, first responders and the workforce safe. The courses include topics such as mental health, substance misuse, diversity and inclusiveness, allyship, servant leadership, stress management, and more. Most importantly, users have access to the full course modules, including interactive exercises and quizzes to ensure full comprehension. Courses are broken up into three categories: Keeping Students Safe & Healthy, Keeping First Responders Safe & Healthy, and Keeping Our Workforce Safe & Healthy. Workforce-specific courses include Stress Management and Prevention, Cybersecurity Overview, Heat Stress Causes, and Active Shooter Response.
The Vector Cares program allows free access to instructionally sound and highly valued eLearning courses to expand knowledge on subjects that matter. Just as valuable as the course content itself, these modules include interactive exercises to measure and ensure a full understanding of critical information on these topics that impact the community, ultimately enabling users to make safer, smarter, better decisions.
Creating Programs to Best Support Workforces
When deciding upon programs and the issues they will address, topics that have a deep connection to the safety and well-being of entire communities—from schools to first responders to our frontline workers—should be top of mind. As a business, it is crucial to stay attuned to the needs of your workforce and the surrounding community. By listening to feedback and concerns, plans can be developed to address specific needs. The power of employees can then be harnessed to make a meaningful difference in creating a safer and healthier workplace and community.
Above and beyond the trainings offered on the job, businesses also have the ability to invest in and support initiatives that benefit the social good of the communities they operate in and in which their workforce belongs. One such initiative is the organization of volunteer events where employees come together to support local charitable activities, such as sorting food at a food bank or participating in a 5K race. Additionally, many businesses have developed employee match programs that give team members the power to decide where they want to direct their philanthropic efforts. Another way to support a cause is through in-office activities, like contests, potlucks, and trivia, where entry costs can be donated directly to a chosen charity. These initiatives not only provide employees with opportunities to give back to their communities, but they also promote team building and create a sense of purpose and fulfillment in the workplace.
The Time to Act Is Now
June is National Safety Month, an event organized by the National Safety Council to raise awareness and encourage action around critical safety and health issues facing Americans. Therefore, there is no better time than now to assure that we are providing workers with access to information on crucial health and safety topics, to benefit not only individual workers but their employers and communities as a whole as well. It is crucial to address topics that deal with rapid change such as diversity, equity, and inclusion, as well as increasing dangers in the workforce such as opioid overuse, human trafficking, mental stress, and cybersecurity risks. These subjects have a significant impact on the safety and well-being of entire communities, including schools, first responders, and frontline workers. To make a difference in our communities, it is essential to focus on the safety and health of our mission-critical workforce. Choosing topics that have a deep connection to the community is vital. By providing education and training programs, businesses can help their employees make safer, smarter, and better decisions, ultimately creating a positive impact on society.