Employee Health And Why HR Should Pay Attention

Employee health is vital to every company, there’s no question about it. Think about it, nobody wants to work by someone that’s sick, that’s not productive for anyone. As we’re now learning with the recent COVID-19 pandemic and should have known all along, if you’re sick, you shouldn’t be at work. Period.

Sure, easier said than done, we get that. No employer wants sick employees affecting others. However, what should happen next? Should that employee work the full day at home? Probably not, that’s what we’d say but we know that’s often not the case. The boss won’t allow it, work has to be done and it doesn’t matter what you feel like, it better get done.

Employee health is always a fierce topic, but is your company having those tough conversations? There’s a lot that can fall under employee health, so before we go even further, we want to give you some more clarity on exactly what employee health is.

What Is Employee Health?

Employee health focuses on the physical and mental status of your employees. It can cover chronic diseases and wellness in the same sentence. Naturally, when we discuss health, physical health is often one of the first things we think about. While physical health is always important, so is your mental health and never forget that. Bad physical health can be the gateway to bad mental health, and bad mental health can be the gateway to bad physical health.

With employee health, we often talk about wellness, well-being and prevention. There’s a wide range of chronic conditions that can be avoided, this is an area where employers like to focus. Not exercising, bad eating habits, and smoking are all great examples of elements that can lead to diseases, this is where we need companies to intervene. Biometric screenings, annual physicals and preventive shots (like the flu shot) are also concerns for employers. 

Is Bad Employee Health Costing Your Company?

Thanks to a lot of great studies, research and case studies, we know employee health is costing employers billions of dollars. According to Integrated Benefits Institute, a nonprofit health and productivity research organization, U.S. employers paid nearly $880 billion in health care benefits for employees and dependents. In the study, they found that illness-related lost productivity costs employers an additional $530 billion per year. 

Employees covered for sick time, workers’ compensation, disability, and family and medical leave benefits are absent about 893 million days due to illness and incur an estimated 527 million lost work days due to impaired performance. This totals almost 1.4 billion days annually of employees absent – greater than  every nurse in the US missing a year of work.

In total, lost productivity due to avoidable workforce absence and low performance accounts for almost 63 percent of the costs of benefits. 

No matter what position you hold, unhealthy employees cost your business money. That’s just a fact. This is why many employers are looking for different wellness strategies to reduce the costs associated with employee health.

What Can Your Company Do?

Most employers want happy and healthy employees. When your employees are healthy and happy, they’re going to be more engaging and productive. Healthy and happy employees can boost morale, workplace culture and help you reduce the costs associated with health benefits. This is why it’s vital you invest in employee health. 

With large companies, some of the staff that are involved with employee health would be compensation and benefits managers. With smaller companies, this role usually goes to HR (Human Resources). In some cases, this role may be prefered to a HR generalist.

There’s a ton of strategies you can use to improve employee health in your company. 

(1) Wellness Programs

One of the most effective ways to begin improving employee health is with employee wellness programs. These wellness programs are fun, they can be beneficial to everyone involved and it’s a great way to start getting your employees healthy. 

Building a successful wellness program is not easy, most of the clients we work with here at Kadalyst implement their own programs. However, after months of mediocre results, those employers seek professional help. 

Wellness programs have many levels, it takes a well crafted plan and action to produce the results you’re going to want to see. We have a proven framework and case studies that show employee wellness programs work, but only when done right. We’d recommend talking to our team if you want to dive deep to see how we can help you turn your program around or develop a new program for your company. 

(2) Taking Preventative Health Care Serious

A lot of employee health problems can be avoided. While we can’t stop or avoid everything, there is a lot we can. Let me give you an example. 

According to Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc., the flu cost U.S. employers over $21B in lost productivity during the past flu season. If employers and employees took more preventive measures to clean work areas, do you think we could have cut into that cost a little? 

Preventive care saves lives and money. If your employees do have chronic conditions, make sure you give them the time to meet with their doctors and keep current on their problems. If your employees are not having a yearly checkup, motivate them to do just that. 

There’s a lot we can do on the preventative side of things, so make sure you’re making the effort.

(3) Let Your Employees Get Away From The Grind

Do you know what one of the most important benefits employees value the most? If you guessed right, it’s “vacation” time. Now, we hope it’s paid vacation time but vacation is important to us all. Everybody needs time away to recover, whether you feel you do or don’t.

Stress can kill you and most Americans agree that work is stressful. Vacations are a great way to reduce stress and recover. We all need time to get away from work, even the work warriors. If you don’t, it’s only a matter of time before you begin feeling burn out. Working all the time is not healthy.

While the United States doesn’t have mandatory vacation time, all employers should offer their employees some type of vacation time each year.

(4) Using An Employee Assistance Program

While work is one of the most stressful things men and women can do, everyday life can lead to a lot of stress too. Relationships can fail, money can get tight, a sudden death, life can be hard to deal with at times. There’s going to be times when these things spill into the workplace, so you want to make sure you’re prepared.

An employee assistance program can help your employees find help when needed, whether that be an attorney, financial expert, pastor or therapist. Just knowing these things are available can reduce stress for your employees.

(5) Don’t Forget About Mental Health

According to Center For Workplace Mental Health, depression costs employers an estimated $44 billion each year in lost productivity. What’s scary, about half of employees with depression goes untreated. With proper treatment, people that have depression can get better. We can’t forget about mental health.

Depression can contribute to both presenteeism and absenteeism. It can have a severe impact on the productivity of your employees. Just like with other health conditions, if treated early, it can make a big difference.

A survey called the Impact of Depression at Work Audit (IDeA) showed that nearly a quarter (23%) of a panel of U.S. workers and managers indicated they have received a diagnosis of depression at some time in their life and two in five of those respondents (40%) reported taking time off from work—an average of 10 days a year—as a result of their diagnosis. 

One Last Word On Employee Health

Human Resource Departments can play a key role in having a big impact on employee health. The health of your employees are the most important thing. Employees are valuable assets that can’t be replaced, ensuring their happiness and health can be extremely beneficial to all parties. 

If you’re serious about focusing on employee health and implementing wellness strategies that have a proven track record, we’d love to discuss your options. You can reach us at anytime by calling 503-512-5175 or by using our contact form.

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