Head over heart approach can influence board’s attitude to wellbeing, says IOSH
IOSH’s Director of Business Richard Orton said that a focus on finance could prick-up Directors’ ears and push the occupational health and wellbeing agenda firmly into the board room.
As part of a presentation given at the Safety and Health Expo, Orton referenced a number of statistics focused on business cost including sickness absence and the increasing rise of HSE fines. “I know I’m sounding a little bit cold about this,” he explained, “but working on the assumption that everybody understands the heart option for doing this [health and safety], but I’m hopefully giving an argument that appeals to the head so that you can get both sides of the equation in place and win your board over.”
Orton then delivered two “bullet points that I guarantee will make any board director that you are talking to take notice.” The first highlighted the rise of occupational diseases as a cause of work-related deaths. Citing the International Labour Organisation’s (ILO) 2017 updated report Global Estimates of Occupational Accidents and Work-related Illnesses, which estimated an annual 2.8m work-related fatalities. “Everybody instantly goes to safety [as a cause of death] as oppose to health, Orton said. “That’s because it’s immediate, it’s there and unfortunately, you can see the aftermath but 2.4 million are actually a result of occupational diseases and not of accidents.”
His second point honed in on the potential return on investment of implementing a health and safety strategy. Orton referenced the International Social Security Association’s (ISSA) 2013 report Calculating the International Return on Prevention for Companies, the findings of which showed that every dollar invested in safety and health could potentially generate a potential return of more than two dollars; nearly 120 per cent. According to Orton it was a figure that Directors could not overlook. “How many things that they [Directors] have debated in the boardroom are going to give them a return on investment of almost 120 per cent?” he said.
The presentation drew from a report called Healthy Profit, research carried out by IOSH targeted at board-level to help incorporate the wellbeing agenda into an organisation’s strategic outlook. “Next time your company is talking about reviewing its strategy, try and get this [report] in at the start of the process so, they can see the kind of things that are on the broader horizon rather than specifically what’s in front of them immediately,” Orton concluded.
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