A health balance sheetOn 1 Sep 2002 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Related posts:No related photos. Spening a little extra on healthcare for staff can reap many benefits, asSandra Vandermerwe discoversMost corporations continue to regard spending on health and staff well-beinga necessary expense to be kept to the minimum. To save money on healthcare,however, companies must invest to attract and retain employees who aremotivated and fit, and thus work at peak performance. With growing recognition of this competitive advantage, health promotion isincreasingly becoming a core objective within the HR function. From cover to outcomes The issue is no longer merely getting illness cover for employees; it isalso about ensuring employees are well and operating at the highest possiblelevel at home and on the move. It is in this new ‘market space’ that realinnovators such as International Heath Insurance, the Denmark-based globalenterprise, are putting emphasis, changing the health insurance industry in theprocess. The type of cover provided is irrelevant if employees do not recognise asymptom, make the wrong decision about what to do, or manage their recoveryperiod badly. If a decision to relocate is taken without considering thecomfort and needs of employees and their families, they will take longer tosettle in the new location and never perform at maximum potential. Consider thesesituations as potential value ‘gaps’, for which HR, together with trustedpartners, must take responsibility Health is an individual issue Many corporations offer wellness programmes, but they are not oftencomprehensive. Do any of the following sound familiar? – A brochure on quitting smoking or promoting a gym, offered in a ‘take orleave it’ style – Canteens unconcerned about what is served so long as it conforms to theminimum nutrition standards, again to save costs – Lack of concern as to who eats what despite statistics suggesting that upto 50 per cent of all people are known to be intolerant or allergic to certainfood. Allergic reactions can cause mood swings and backache, insomnia or chronicfatigue. Knowing an employee has an allergy and building that into their dietand the food offered by the corporate canteen requires a change in awarenessand systems, but it is that which leads to the bottom line results corporationseek. Becoming proactive and preventative Becoming proactive prevents things going wrong. By giving high-risk patientspreventative services, US company the Haelan Group has reduced corporatemedical costs by as much as 50 per cent. Lego has reduced its absenteeism rateby at least 10 per cent since it began its preventative healthcare programme,says its HR manager. This requires educating customers to change behaviour which damages theirhealth. This must include education on which medicines to take and where to getthem abroad while on the move or relocating. Pharmalife, an e-business start-up, assists pharmacists in becoming moreproactive with their patients’ medicine management by tracking theircompliance: Have they taken their medication, with the correct dosage, on time?Are they experiencing any side effects? Patients recover quicker and get backto work sooner, all of which leads to lower costs for the health authorities. Having a baseline from which to work, such as knowing what yourpredisposition to a disease may be or your cholesterol level for example, is essential.One system which can be of use to employees is carrying out an easy test on aprivate webpage. The second step is dealing with a condition: what to do aboutit, how to recognise symptoms, taking preventative action and monitoringprogress. And further, when and if things go wrong, how to identify theoptions, what to do, and how to recover quickly. The emphasis for customers is on wellness: they are helped to stay fit andare rewarded when they set and meet goals, such as reducing cholesterol levels.If they need advice they are matched with the best health services to suitindividual needs because of the knowledge and information gathered and used forthis purpose. The health balance sheet Measuring the payoff to the corporation in promoting health in theirorganisation is the key to the health balance sheet. Returns on investmentinclude lower absenteesim, higher retention and greater productivity. Stress isone of the fastest growing claims areas, costing US business $10,000 annuallyper employee in absenteeism, lower productivity and increasing health andworkers’ compensation costs. Swedish research reports that rehabilitation timefor stress is a year or more. But wellness programmes take time to show a return. Vision is required torecognise both the cost of insurance and services as an investment and thevalue of this investment for the HR fraternity in the years ahead. Comments are closed.