Employee Wellbeing and ISO Management Systems

a woman with long brown hair in a white t shirt, loose black trousers and bare feet, sat on her desk doing yoga, next to her computer, in a busy office

What do employee wellbeing and ISO management systems have in common? Good question, when mention of ISO 9001 Quality Management Systems or ISO 45001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems don’t automatically make you think about employee wellbeing. So, what have these two standards got to do with it?

This article focuses on the better-known ISO standards in Quality and also Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S), to highlight the interrelation between employee wellbeing and ISO management systems, (although there are many other standards that cover this important topic).

ISO 9001 – Quality Management System

ISO 9001, Clause 7.1.4 – Environment for the operation of processes includes the requirement for a productive environment for employees, stating:

“The organization shall determine, provide and maintain the environment necessary for the operation of its processes and to achieve conformity of products and services. NOTE: A suitable environment can be a combination of human and physical factors, such as:

a) social (e.g. non-discriminatory, calm, non-confrontational);
b) psychological (e.g. stress-reducing, burnout prevention, emotionally protective);
c) physical (e.g. temperature, heat, humidity, light, airflow, hygiene, noise).

These factors can differ substantially depending on the products and services provided.”

Social, psychological and physical factors are all considered, and are audited as part of the certification process, reflecting the direct correlation between employee wellbeing and ISO management systems.

In terms of compliance with “A suitable work environment”, you need to consider the following factors:

  • Workplace ergonomics
  • Health and safety of the employees
  • Safety of visitors, suppliers, member of the public (if applicable) and any contractors

This should take into account maintenance and infrastructure, such as temperature, lighting and ventilation – all of which are typically controlled by building management systems these days.

a boardroom table and chairs in a windowed office with lots of natural daylight a supersized pot plant and a living wall of greenery

ISO 45001 – Occupational Health & Safety Management System

When you think about occupational health and safety, traditional physical protection, like hard hats and boiler suits, might spring to mind.  But, mental health and wellbeing in the workplace is fast becoming more recognised as equally vital to employee welfare.

Herein lies an inextricable links between employee wellbeing and ISO management systems. ISO 45001 helps you identify the needs and expectations of your team, plus any hazards they might face. This means:

  • Considering any potential harmful factors
  • Determining if you’re taking reasonable steps to prevent harm

Mental health initiatives should be an important part of the processes included in your management system. For example, do you work in a stressful or a challenging environment? How does it affect your team? What can you do to lessen the impact?  

And remember, interested parties extend beyond your employees, to their families, too. Families and friends should be able to reasonably expect their nearest and dearest to come home from work healthy, both physically and mentally.

The Multiple Benefits of Employee Wellbeing

It hasn’t always been taken as read over the years that better workplace health and wellbeing makes people happier and more focused. But more recently, the facts and figures speak for themselves.

Now, there are hundreds of studies demonstrating the returns to be gained from workplace wellbeing programmes. What’s more, they evidence how the promotion of healthier lifestyles and work-life balance are just as beneficial to businesses as they are to employees.

In fact, workplace wellbeing is a key component for business success. After all, your staff are your greatest assets. So, your team can’t function at full strength if any of your employees aren’t working at optimum levels of productivity. Not to mention your legal duty of care.

a pile of post it notes saying – wellbeing at work – next to a mug of black coffee and a pen

How Does Employee Wellbeing Impact Product or Service Quality?

As you’ve seen, ISO 9001 addresses the requirement for a suitable working environment, which can be a combination of social, psychological and physical factors. 

For example, an office that’s either too hot or too cold is plain uncomfortable. This can lead to a poor atmosphere, unnecessary friction between colleagues, and ultimate loss of productivity. 

But it doesn’t have to be a physical thing. It could be a toxic environment, with low morale due to confrontation or discrimination. As a result, employees are less enthusiastic about work, and unlikely to be particularly productive.

As is the case with many other areas of ISO management system, communication and collaboration is key.

In terms of employee wellbeing and ISO management systems, a health and safety consultation with employees provides a forum for concerns to be raised, and to be heard by management. You can read more on this subject in my Employee consultation and participation under ISO 45001 blog post. And here is why you should…

Implementation of a good Quality or OH&S management system not only boosts performance and reduces loss of hours. It also helps improve employee satisfaction. Happy employees supercharge any organisation, because they lead to happy customers.

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