In 2023, employees are transitioning between jobs at a record pace. This brings a never-ending slog of new employee orientation and training, something that your short-staffed departments may already be behind on. Additionally, there is a growing disconnect between employees and an uphill conversation about remote workers returning to the office.  

Or perhaps all these situations are happening at once, causing leadership to pause to assess the reasons behind these challenges.  

In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recognizes these (and many more) emerging challenges facing worker health and safety and advocates for employers to measure worker well-being (i.e., surveys) as a priority for both short- and long-term total worker health.  

Luckily, the Total Worker Health® program provides multiple options for organizations looking to measure and improve worker safety, health, and well-being.   

What is Total Worker Health®

The National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) developed a framework called Total Worker Health® to help guide organizations in advancing worker safety and well-being. 

Learn more in our on-demand webinar: Reigniting Company Culture in a Hybrid Office Model through Total Worker Health® 

Total Worker Health (TWH) is a broad, multifaceted approach that combines traditional health and safety concepts with other well-being and sustainability metrics in order to help companies navigate both best practices and regulations within the workplace. Topics within the TWH framework include:  

  • prevention and control of hazards (traditional health and safety), 
  • built-in environment and community support,  
  • traditional human resources (like compensation, benefits, leadership, and demographics), and  
  • work organization and policies.  

NIOSH developed a graphic to showcase all elements within the TWH framework, which can be found on their website.  

Workplace Culture Surveys 

This framework includes resources for organizations to enhance company culture. One of these resources includes deploying surveys to assess and measure an organization’s culture, specifically relating to perceptions from employees and management on the availability of resources.  

Many employers are opting to use culture surveys to assess the current state of environmental, health, and safety (EHS) and employee well-being within their organizations.  

After deploying culture surveys and reviewing the results, employers gain a better understanding of where they need to focus their efforts to ensure optimal EHS and employee well-being in their organization. 

Benefits of Culture Surveys 

Employee culture surveys can provide snapshots into employees’ and/or management’s perceptions of available resources at a company. A survey provides your c-suite the hard data on which to make decisions, demonstrating their dedication to their most valuable resource - their employees.  Having the opportunity to provide honest feedback helps those employees trust their senior leadership. 

The employees, in return for being heard, will be more cohesive in understanding their risks, and mindful of their ownership of their organization’s safety. The bolstering of confidence, performance, and communication can extend throughout a department, division, or company. This can continue to break down any proverbial silos amongst an organization and have the added benefit of beginning to reconnect workers and their management. 

Additional benefits of employing culture surveys include boosting employee retention, improving organizational efficiency, and identifying potential biases.  

Boost Employee Retention 

Organizations are relying more and more on employee engagement to retain current talent and attract new talent. Knowing what your employees are concerned about can help employees feel valued. When employees feel valued, they tend to remain productive and encourage other positive behavior at work. That not only helps manage the internal risk of employee loss, but also reduces the amount of company resources needed for coaching, managing public relations, marketing, and re-training. The cost of new employee onboarding also can’t be overlooked.  

Employees may not understand business decisions to move offices or to require select groups of remote workers to come back to offices, and that potential lack of transparency or communication may lead to large disruptions in services and products. Culture surveys can help employers understand these concerns and better communicate business decisions with employees.  

Improving Efficiency and Effectiveness 

It is expected that during the evaluation of survey data, threads that reach outside of EHS will be uncovered. This can help an organization connect an EHS survey to the broader organizational initiatives and increase efficiency.  

Many employers already have a tremendous amount of regulatory-required work to do, and surveying employees (while taking up time in the interim) may seem unreasonable. But the fact is that a survey can facilitate organizations in refocusing assets on items both the organization and employees are concerned about, saving time and energy in the long run. 

Avoiding Blind Spots 

Even a practiced, well-structured, profitable organization can experience confirmation bias over time.  Without having some kind of external stakeholder group influencing decision-makers in the c-suite, the chances of this occurring increase.  

A survey allows a company to check its proverbial blind spots; just like when we all used to have to crane our necks around and look over the backseat headrest of our cars when changing lanes before blind spot monitors. By bringing back into focus the foundational elements of an organization (e.g., if their employees feel like they are safe at work or that the company can be trusted with protecting them) it helps to rebuild that human connection we’ve struggled to maintain, and not just because of the pandemic. 

Challenges of Launching a Culture Survey 

Deploying culture surveys can pose unforeseen challenges to employers if certain considerations are not carefully considered. Before diving into it, your organization should make sure it’s ready to have the following: 

  • The right drivers to support the process. These are the individuals who will field the inevitable question: What’s in it for me? And why is my organization spending resources on this? These key stakeholders fly the flag for your organization and are looked up to by those that are newly hired and seasoned alike. This could be a team of EHS leaders, Human Resources, or an operations lead. They set the example and people are more willing to trust the process if those individuals lead. 
  • The financial support to mitigate any discovered non-compliances or other concerns when evaluating the survey responses. 
  • Staying power. An initial culture survey is good to understand where employees are today, and that may help fuel short-term initiatives, but ongoing culture surveying is a more complex endeavor. Ensuring that employees not only receive and respond to the survey year after year is important, but just as important are those key stakeholders AND employees seeing change that they had a say in.  

Getting Started 

With so many ways to measure and enhance company culture, where do you start? While the Total Worker Health® framework is comprehensive, it can also be daunting and challenging to figure out how to begin. Embarking on the Total Worker Health® program is a journey – not an overnight fix.  

Once you’ve identified an area to focus on, it is important to collaborate and engage across all work groups within your organization from top management and HR to health and safety teams and employees. Leveraging current technology, you’ll remotely design, build, and disseminate surveys to suit your needs as you engage these resources. Long gone are the days of administering paper surveys at the site cafeteria or break trailer. True anonymity is now possible, allowing for a more inclusive process.  

Antea Group can help organizations that are looking to deploy customized surveys to move the needle on improving EHS and employee well-being. Connect with our team of experts today for support in navigating the framework elements, identifying priorities, and implementing culture surveys at your organization.  

Total Worker Health® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Participation by Antea Group does not imply endorsement by HHS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. 

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