Avectous > News/Blog > Health > The Scalability of Health

The Scalability of Health

8 months ago
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As we ease into 2021, we are reflecting on all the new challenges and lessons that the last year presented to the world. One thing that 2020 made abundantly clear with Covid jeopardizing lives and businesses was this > Life is unpredictable. More unpredictable than we care to admit.

It made people around the world take stock of their lives and carefully re-examine many things that we may have taken for granted.

In the supply chain industry, we watched in disbelief as factories sat empty, shipping lanes bottle-necked and production lines ground to a halt. Then we witnessed consumers embrace online shopping in unprecedented numbers – and in turn we watched companies such as Amazon reap astounding record profits unlike anything before seen in e-commerce history.  At Avectous – it is our business and passion to be rigorous observers of patterns, numbers, efficiencies and opportunities – so we watched closely how a “Black-Swan”* such as Covid impacted the supply chain ecosystem – and life in general. Throughout 2020, we observed new behaviors, analyzed new consumption patterns and examined the blind spots that the pandemic revealed in diverse ways. 

This pandemic exposed and magnified that HEALTH is a truly powerful variable in our business models. By health, we do not mean simply the resilience and robustness of our software systems and supply chains – we are also speaking about the physical and mental health of the people who build, manage and maintain the systems which our society relies upon. Perhaps, health is a blindspot variable affecting your warehouse more than you know… 

– How many sick days do your teams take annually? 
– What is your employee retention? 
– How motivated and energized are your workers? 
– Do your workers have access to health care? 
– How is staff morale (AKA mental health) affecting productivity and workflow?

These questions are sometimes ignored when examining business models – and yet they can have massive impacts on your bottom line. 

– How do managers/supervisors respond to complaints and crisis internally?
– Can reduced pick path times decrease repetitive stress injuries suffered by employees?
– Do employee recognition incentives exist which reinforce positive behaviors?
– Can longer breaks, staggered hours, or shorter shifts reduce errors and improve productivity?
– Do employees have access to healthy food on site at work?
– Do opportunities exist for employees to take initiative and boost their confidence? 
– Do team building activities exist to cultivate a hospitable work atmosphere?

Every warehouse and team is unique, but the numbers are in on health. Paid sick-leave days cost employers $160 billion annually, so decreasing stress and health risks SAVES employers money. Meanwhile, extending paid sick leave to contract workers decreases their stress levels because they know they have access to financial security. In either situation, employees are less likely to show up to work sick and spread illness due to an unfortunate catch-22 choice that some people face: Do I get healthy? Or do I get paid?

In 2014, German workers, who averaged a 28-hour work week, were an astounding 70%  more productive. So employees were paid the same for less hours. Sometimes we overlook counterintuitive solutions until the hard facts and numbers help us shake off our bias. The median cost of employee turnover is 21 percent of their annual salary, so it’s always more economical to retain employees and invest in employee morale. 
In our endless quest to understand how to better build smart, resilient and robust supply chains we did a deep dive into reading about how to invest in health in various ways.

Here are some of our favourite books that examine health, blind-spots and strategies to strengthen your workforce teams’ health & productivity. 
Turns out, investing in health is investing in your future.
Health = Productivity = ROI.

Be well, Team Avectous

BOOK LIST
Sleep Health > Why We Sleep: by Matthew Walker 

Breath & Lung Health > Breath: by James Nestor

Food Health > This is your brain on food : by Uma Naidoo

Supply Chain Health > The New (AB) Normal:  by Yossi Sheffi 

The black swan : the impact of the highly improbable: by Nassim Taleb