NOM 035 ¿Why should we go beyond simple compliance with the standard?
The NOM 035 (Norma Oficial Mexicana) came into force in Mexico in October 2019. With this standard, the evaluation of working conditions that directly affect the well-being of workers within the work environment is an obligation to be fulfilled in all companies in the country.
“For every $1 USD invested in worker wellbeing, there is a $4 USD return on productivity and health improvements.” World Health Organization
The Ministry of Labour defines that the objective of the NOM 035 is to "establish the elements to identify, analyze and prevent psychosocial risk factors, promoting a favorable organizational environment in the workplace".
As psychosocial risk factors, it mentions “those that can cause anxiety disorders, non-organic sleep-wake cycle disorders and serious and adaptation stress. This risk is derived from the nature of the functions of the job and the exposure of the worker to severe traumatic events or acts of violence at work, due to the work carried out”. However, working conditions, violence at work, effects on the work-family balance, as well as the lack of autonomy can also be considered as stress factors.
But how does the government measure these factors in businesses to enforce the law? This is done through the application of official surveys that have to be submitted to the government once a year to give a diagnosis. They have to be submitted together with a plan of prevention and control measures.
The cases of depression and anxiety in Mexico have increased by up to 75% in the last 5 years. At least 1 of 4 Mexicans suffer from anxiety, which causes work absenteeism that affects 7.3% of the cost of the national companies' payroll.
This is why we highlight the importance of looking after the health of workers, as they are the most important asset of any organisation.
The benefits of having a physically and mentally healthy workforce will ultimately be reflected in both the productivity and commitment levels of workers. In addition, in the long-term it will decline in turnover. Just look at the numbers from the World Health Organization, where they mention that for every $1 USD invested in worker wellbeing, there is a $4 USD return on productivity and health improvements.
Knowing this data, the applicaiton of the NOM must go beyond complying with the minimum indispensable established by law. It invites us to rethink the short, medium and long term benefits of caring for the physical and mental well-being of our workforce. It reminds us the importance of seeking alternatives to prevent and regularly monitor these factors.