Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Why would I get health checks for my employees?
As Workplace Wellbeing Day is later this week on May 31st, we are sharing important information with employers on how to keep their staff healthy and present at work. Absenteeism costs small businesses in Ireland about €490 million per year according to the Small Firms Association (SFA). This applies to businesses with a sick pay scheme in place. However, when the added costs of replacing staff, overtime,  loss of productivity and the time spent managing the absence are taken into consideration, Alan Sherlock (SFA Executive) estimates that costs are higher. Overall annually, 11 million days are lost at a cost of €1.5 billion according to the same SFA report released in 2015.
“Back pain / injury and anxiety / depression are the most commonly cited reasons for absence on medical certs”, stated Mr Sherlock. “Employers should ensure that they are fulfilling their duty of care to their employees by including manual handling and mental health when conducting risk assessments as part of their review of their health and safety statements.”

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The cost to the workforce and to the employee when taking time off work can be an unexpected financial challenge. One of the most important benefits of regular health checks is that the sudden absence of an employee is prevented, as they have been forewarned about a potential health problem and both the employer and employee have had adequate time to take necessary action. Essentially, the problem was solved before it really began.

The above maladies mentioned by Alan Sherlock among many others are often preventable, not just through standard health and safety procedures but by health and wellness initiatives within an organisation. But where to start? A form of needs assessment (which is the pillar to any health and wellbeing programme) is an employee health check. The data collected reflects the overall health of the workforce, and can initiate a targeted programme aimed at the specific health concerns of the group.  This combined with employee feedback creates a recipe for a successful health and wellbeing campaign.
If your staff work normal office hours, there is a good chance that they would need to take time off in order to attend a medical appointment. Also, even if they had the time, expensive GP fees in Ireland are often a deterrent. Your staff being healthy is beneficial to you because it means they take less sick days and are more productive at work. Why not facilitate them by helping them out with their health and in return gain a healthier workforce, and a caring organisational reputation?

In 2015, former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar was involved in a campaign to develop Healthy Workplace policies for the public sector. The Health and Wellbeing Bill signed off at Cabinet requires public service employers to develop a ‘healthy workplace’ policy to promote the physical, mental and social wellbeing of employees. Dependant on the specific requirements of each workplace, options for health initiatives include

  • Promoting ‘Active Travel’ – switching to smarter ways of travelling to and during work, by foot, by bike, by public transport or through car sharing;
  • Setting up walking , running or other activity and exercise groups;
  • Healthy eating options in staff canteens – making the ‘healthy choice the easy choice’;
  • Smoking cessation programmes and making campuses smoke free zones;
  • Supporting positive mental health and wellbeing by encouraging employees to deal with stress, personal difficulties and to seek help when necessary.

Workplace health promotion is a fast growing business strategy, with many businesses in Ireland now claiming to have some form of a health and wellness programme, and many are thinking about starting one. “Everyone else is doing it” may not be a driver in convincing employers that wellness in business is something worth pursuing, however it should be. You don’t want your organisation standing out for the wrong reason. Make your business attractive to new potential employees, or more importantly, the staff you already have. These are your biggest asset.

According to a national survey done last year, in which 996 employees took part, it was found that 69% of employees are more likely to stay longer with employers who show an interest in their health and wellbeing. What is possibly more revealing is that half would consider leaving employers who don’t.

We are turning Workplace Wellbeing Day into Workplace Wellbeing Week at Full Health Medical! For all of this week, we are offering FREE CONSULTATIONS to employers and HR managers who want to improve the health status of their workforce. Email us on wellness@fullhealthmedical.com and one of our experts will arrange a virtual meeting a time which is convenient for you!

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