When defining an organisation’s core values, the descriptors of integrity, boldness and honesty are usually front of mind. But what about health?

Amidst the dubious havoc, unleashed by a fear of the intangible unknown, COVID-19 has ‘yielded an unprecedented, public relations-positive education campaign’ according to Dr Amanda Rischbieth, Chair of the National Blood Authority Australia. COVID-19 has been an epiphanic revelation towards our understanding of public health and such cognisance needs to be critically imbedded into our organisations.

While workplace health and well-being are a board’s ‘core legal responsibility’, health has not been attributed the structural precedence which it necessitates. Rather it has become a lingering and less effectual fixture, whereby, according to Dr Rischbieth,  matters of “health” are defaulted to ‘traditional work, health and safety activity, absenteeism, and compliance reporting’.

With only a staggering 12% of organisations revealing ‘that they are ready to address the issue [of worker well-being]’ COVID-19 could be the catalyst for organisations to consider the strategic embedding of health across the board and management level.

From a business perspective, the term resilience typically infers crisis management and business continuity ‘in the face of a crisis or economic slowdown’. In light of COVID-19, we must learn to be more resilient about our interlinking of business and public health leadership; a proposition, which may incite a more caring culture – governed by a Culture of Health (COH), as explicated by the work of Harvard Professor, John Quelch.

Undeniably, with the progression of remote working through technological advancements and the facilitation of flexible working practices, COVID-19 has restructured how employees interact with their workplace; an auspicious phenomenon, beckoning organisations to reconsider their core values and responsibilities.

By making health a shared value across organisations, not only will the wellbeing of employees improve incrementally, but communities will also become healthier and more equitable due to the welcomed implementation of cross-sector collaboration.

This is part of a series of insights related to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on business.

Julia is a student in the Master of Management (CEMS) programme at the University of Sydney Business School.

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