Healthy employees foster healthy profits
In searching for ways to control health care costs, corporate America is discovering the true value of a healthy workforce. It's more important than ever that employers protect and maintain the health, safety, and productivity of every worker.
In addition to rising health care costs is the profit factor. Healthy workers are productive workers, and productive workers produce profit. Even if an impacted employee is at work but is distracted by an injury or illness, productivity declines.
Many employers are realizing that an employee not being on the job can be a much bigger problem than simply paying doctor bills and hospital costs -- direct costs. Injuries and illnesses, whether arising at work or at home, drive health care costs and result in absences from the workplace and reduced levels of productivity.
The indirect costs are much more significant than the direct costs. Clearly, there is a link among health, safety and productivity and an incentive to improve all three.
Whether managing health, safety and productivity in a compartmental fashion or through an integrated program structure, the key is developing a plan that will address the needs of your specific working population. What at one time was viewed as an expense is now viewed as an investment in human capital.
Several categories available.
The types of programs generally fall into one of three categories: health and wellness, safety and loss control, and integrated programs.
- Health and wellness programs. These are designed to encourage workers to change their behaviors to reduce the risk of injury and illness. Key components include screening programs, exercise and physical fitness programs, health insurance education, disease management seminars, and smoking cessation seminars.
Other features include preventive care incentives, health risk appraisals, ergonomics training, and lifestyle stress reduction. Some companies hold annual health fairs.
- Safety and loss control. These vary depending on a company's operational exposures, workforce characteristics, and historical accident patterns. However, most successful programs include a strong management commitment to safety and loss control principles, a comprehensive education and training program, and genuine receptiveness to employee input and suggestions. Employees who work in a safe environment feel valued and tend to be more effective and productive.
- Integrated programs. These rely on joint management of human resource benefits and programs that employees may access when they are sick, injured, or balancing work/life issues. They include health insurance, disability, workers' compensation, employee assistance programs, paid sick leave, and occupational safety programs.
By Dan Sulzner, Special to the Workers' Comp Forum
Daniel J. Sulzner
is the loss prevention consultant for Midwest Employers Casualty Company in Chesterfield, Mo.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
November 22, 2010
Copyright 2010© LRP Publications