With the New Year comes many companies beginning their transition to the new ISO 9001:2015 standard and while the whole standard has been updated, there is one clause in particular that has been given a new lease of life:
7.1.4 Environment for the operation of processes.
This clause covers the need for a productive environment for employees and gives a wealth of opportunity for objectives and improvements to staff morale. It reads:
“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”.
What is Employee Wellbeing?
So what is employee wellbeing and how does it impact product and service quality?
Wellbeing is an employee being able to work in an environment that is comfortable and relatively stress free. This can encompass the physical factors such as temperature, appropriate furniture and use of natural light, but also the relationships between employees and ensuring the correct breaks are taken.
When a positive and comfortable environment is nourished in the workplace it can have many positive effects. For example, a room that is too hot can make it’s occupants lethargic and friction between employees can lead to absenteeism due to people wanting to avoid the stress of interaction. Where issues such as these are dealt with well, benefits can include reduced absenteeism and increased productivity.
Other benefits of taking care of your workforce include longevity of employment: happy employees will stay with the company longer, reducing staff turnover and expenditure of time and money in induction training. Employee wellbeing can also be included in several ways in the Quality Objectives that are required by ISO9001, for example; regular inspection of items such as chairs to ensure they are still adequate, formal and informal discussions with employees regarding relationships with colleagues and general job satisfaction, and regular training in DSE (Display Screen Equipment) to ensure Health & Safety requirements are met.
How will this be Audited by a Certification body?
We are in the early days of ISO 9001:2015 certification, so it is difficult to draw a conclusion as to how auditors from certification bodies will approach this clause, however we do know from previous experience that it is likely to differ depending on the body and the auditor.
We believe it is unlikely that a non-conformance would be raised for an isolated example of an ‘unhappy’ employee, however a high staff turn-over rate or high absenteeism might signal a problem with employee wellbeing, and these could become measures that are reviewed more during certification audits.
It is not always easy to monitor and manage harmony within the workplace, however, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is commonplace for employees of all levels to be heavily involved in the daily running of an organisation; sometimes too close to the situation to see all the aspects. Secondly, employees do not always find it easy to talk to someone with authority or fear a repercussion such as confrontation or being moved elsewhere.
For these reasons, many organisations are choosing to employ a consultant to assess and manage wellbeing.
How Assent can help.
At Assent, we offer consultancy services for both ISO9001 and wellbeing including: support of HR departments through our workshops, staff training for stress management and confidence, and exercises in team-building and conflict resolution. Of course, we also offer support for the planning, implementation and maintenance of Quality Management Systems.
To discuss how we can assist you, contact us:
T. 020 3432 2854
T. 029 2000 4623