Companies should consider having a gym and day-care facilities for their employees

Dear Editor,

With respect to the ‘Decent Work Country Programme’ launched by the Ministry of Labour, Human Services and Social Security, the health campaign has as its objective the reduction of work-related health issues. The Permanent Secretary is quoted as saying, “Many people suffer from diseases such as hypertension, ulcers, cardio-vascular diseases relating to stress in the workplace. We have to consider the emerging trends of issues such as chemicals, harmful rays, ergonomics, skeletal disorders and things like that.” The launch of the campaign (or the KN article which I read) did not outline what the campaign would entail.

I recently read of some European countries that have adopted a similar health campaign by making practical interventions, and I wish to suggest that two of them be implemented in our case here.

First, some companies have either constructed small gyms for their employees to utilise or have funded employees’ gym subscriptions. Stress is common in the workplace and it is widely agreed that regular exercise reduces stress and adds to longevity. Healthier employees would mean that tasks are completed in reduced time and with less stress on the workers, and would not add to any company liability. Which employer would not want healthier employees?

Second, some companies incorporated a day-care service for their employees who are parents.

This I believe makes a lot of sense considering the fact that lots of parents either have to pay a baby-sitter, leave work early to pick up their children from a day-care, quit their jobs to stay home to look after their children, or even postpone having children. Including a day-care service is also in keeping with the policy of equal access or gender equality; mothers would still be able to maintain their jobs and their families at the same time.

If I remember correctly, the European companies reported that their work-force’s performance was significantly improved after the two aforementioned interventions. Other incentives included a meditation or “quiet room”; shuttle to the nearest train station (in our case, a bus stop or bus park); and internet service paid for (in Microsoft’s case that is).

The creation of more positive, healthier work environments is inextricably linked to motivated workers who in turn perform better on the job. There would be less use of sick leave which means more ‘production’ hours for the company per employee. That to my mind is a small price to pay for such a huge investment in the health of the Guyanese population and efficiency at the workplace.

Yours faithfully,
Kencil Banwarie

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