When it comes to health and safety, employee health tends to receive a little less attention than it should. This might be because it’s perceived as less immediate than other safety concerns and therefore is slightly lower on the importance scale.
But employee health can affect their safety, focus and performance. For example, someone suffering from exhaustion can easily miss a warning sign, and someone affected by stress can easily pass it on to a colleague, spreading their state of mind like a virus.
Stress and increased job demands affect employees, their colleagues and their families. In fact, according to research, a simple expectation of checking work email after hours, being on-call or receiving last-minute phone calls about shift changes can harm workers and their families. This new study “demonstrates that employees do not need to spend actual time on work in their off-hours to experience the harmful effects.”
This example shows the impact that spillover and crossover effects have on employees and their families. In general, spillover and crossover mean that whatever people experience on the job, they carry with them inside and outside of work and pass it on wherever they go, and vice versa. These effects are significant and influence workplace operations, culture, productivity, loyalty, the bottom line and even workers’ family lives.
For example, rudeness decreases workplace helpfulness and leads to disruption and decreased work performance. Workplace incivility also relates to increased depression and anxiety, which in turn affects performance and quality of life.
Safety can also be affected by spillover and crossover effects because organizations without a friendly, supportive culture can’t expect people to get behind safety initiatives. If they’re struggling daily to remain even minimally engaged in their jobs, why would they expend energy on following more rules or supporting the organization and each other in safety?
In addition, research has found that anger can be an indirect cause of workplace incidents. This is because negative emotions compromise people’s cognitive processes, affecting attention, narrowing focus and causing workers to miss important cues or act without considering potential consequences.
Although mental health affects many aspects of employees’ lives, it’s always important to be aware of spillover and crossover effects and try to create a culture and workplace policies that reduce negative emotions among workers.
Having management lead by example when it comes to acceptable behaviors and safety initiatives is a good start in building a more positive culture. Employers can also guide employees towards mindfulness classes, which can be effective in reducing anxiety and improving mental health.
Emotions and attitudes are contagious. When it comes to health and safety, it’s best to create a workplace that fosters positive attitudes and reduces the amount of negative crossover and spillover.