When an employee misses work due to illness, it can affect a company’s bottom line. While most businesses willingly expend considerable resources on technology, facilities and equipment, few appropriate funds towards the health and well-being of their employees. That is where “Health at Work” programs can help. These programs focus on helping companies teach their employees how to set and achieve appropriate health and lifestyle goals.
Companies that are proactive in the health of employees enjoy the resulting positive effects on employee morale and retention. Taking active steps to reduce employee illness benefits overall productivity and profitability. More and more research indicates that factors like obesity, substance abuse and emotional disorders contribute greatly to escalating healthcare costs in this country. Education is the key as “Health at Work” programs were developed to address these issues as a convenient and accessible wellness curriculum designed to bring high-quality health education into the workplace.
Programs such as these address vital health topics like stress management, smoking cessation, weight control and workplace safety. They also include information for employees who deal with long-term conditions, including arthritis, cancer, chronic pain and diabetes. Companies that participate in these programs can choose from an extensive menu of health-related topics and can customize the program to meet identified employee needs or requests.
Through “Health at Work” sessions, employees gain an understanding of risk factors that affect their health, and receive practical information about lowering such risks. Very often, the work environment is an ideal forum for exchanging health information. It provides a non-judgmental, neutral setting for learning about health issues, lifestyle choices and positive coping strategies. In addition, getting healthy becomes a positive group effort. Establishing common health objectives with peers and co-workers can help to build teamwork, as well as foster goal-setting in the workplace.
The corporate payoff is simple. Healthy employees are more productive, satisfied and creative workers. Such workers are able to make positive contributions to corporate objectives. In contrast, although the total costs of employee illness and absenteeism are often hidden, just the immediate expenses of sick leave, temporary replacements and high health insurance premiums are obvious. When hidden losses such as low morale, inability to provide client service and missed growth opportunities are added in, the real cost becomes much greater.
Encouraging health awareness is a sound corporate strategy. It sends a clear message to employees that they are valued members of the corporate team. It improves productivity and morale and reduces the high costs of illness and absenteeism.