The human cost of inaction (COI); a personal perspective

In most situations when someone talks about the Cost of Inaction (COI) the discussion and focus usually follows the normal business lenses of productivity, revenue and cost. The balance between decisions made in organisations tend to weigh these metrics in the process. The human element is often overlooked; we, therefore, reflect on the human element from a personal perspective.

The Human Consideration

What happens to the culture and wellbeing of your organisation when things are not done? This can be as simple as a birthday celebration to increase team interaction, to the more complex nature of providing the right tools and protection for distributed workforces and lone workers.

Lone worker solutions mitigate risk but it's the emotional and psychological benefits that can be derived from the implementation of a lone worker solution that are equally as beneficial as the physical and direct financial outcomes.

My First-Hand Experience

In a previous life was in a Drive in Drive out (DIDO) role, driving solo across Australia. I was fortunate to see some spectacular scenery, large-scale operations, infrastructure projects and some bad accommodation and food stops. The constant in all of this was being dependent on checking in every time I got a cellular signal.

DIDO teaches you to be very cautious, plan and expect things to go wrong, hence the plan bit. The hours on the road can be both taxing from a mental fatigue, solitude and boredom viewpoint. Don't get me wrong I loved it, it suited me, my personality and character. I also learnt so much about things like depression and its effect on people through those I met and did business with. I have so many accounts of things going astray, a broken steering pump on the vehicle, a 75-kilometre trip on a road that literally ended up as a dry gully and a distant line on some map into the horizon. To being in the middle of nowhere, 1,000 kilometres from established cities, and getting ill. These things happen and when they do your heart rate goes up and stress and anxiety kick in. Because you are alone, there's no one to call, no way to access help. These things build up, repeat and for some become too much.

These aren't items mentioned in position descriptions that people can easily prepare for.

The Cost of Inaction, in my situation, was that I felt that I wasn't valued enough. I felt vulnerable and at risk; and I know many others in the same situation.

Businesses make decisions and have processes that they wish to follow.  I'm not saying its wrong, simply that it happens. Too expensive, too complicated. There are a lot of rational reasons put forward for why additional support of lone workers isn't put in place to reduce risks and minimize anxiety and stress for those working remotely. But eventually these risks take a toll, and in my case, having been on the road for 5 years, it was time for a change.

Value Your People

The reality is, it's not too expensive, it's not complicated, it simply a matter of valuing your people, your human capital. Almost any organisation will have staff who do similar things, in similar situations, they could be situated in rural or regional places, in the CBD or just work in a way that's not your normal office role. They are all valued members of the team, and their health and wellbeing should be considered as you would any other member of the team.

As technology changes, so does the working landscape. We now have regulations to drive health and wellbeing. We see changes to how things are done, the introduction Duty of Care and Chain of Responsibility, all designed to steer organisations in the direction of ensuring the health and well-being of their staff.

The Human Costs

Cost of Inaction will be present in every business on some level, and it has an impact on your most valued assets. People perform better, are more productive and therefore of greater value to your organisation, when they are engaged, included, and see that they are considered as such.

A recent Australian (NSW) report in the Health and Allied Services sector showed significant improvement in user well-being and mental health by using technology to keeping staff safe, in touch and assured that if things went wrong, then someone was going to be there for them to render aid or direct assistance via emergency services.

Explore the Options

Ensuring your staff's well-being isn't rocket science, it's simply a matter of will.

What's the true value of your staff? Recruitment and turnover costs are never really considered at the front end, it's a soft cost that turns into a hard cost at the back end.

What is your organisational culture? Does it value its people? Not exploring the possibility, not exploring the options, that is the true inaction costing organisations.

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