Cost of absenteeism and lower productivity at work due to health issues, further compound the increase in healthcare expenses
Employee health and wellness is gaining attention from the HR community because of its direct correlation with employee productivity and effectiveness. Organizations also recognize the indirect benefits of annual health programs, in terms of increased employee engagement and a way to show ‘we care as an organization’.
Most organizations have policies to provide insurance cover for employees in case of illnesses. However, this is a reactive approach, which is slowly getting replaced by a proactive one of identifying potential health risks. The shift is driven by increased prevalence of lifestyle disorders, which impact both employee well-being and organizational costs. Studies reveal that organizations where a significant employee population is at risk of developing chronic health conditions, had higher health expenditures.
• High glucose level: 35% additional costs
• High BP: 12% additional costs
• Heart disease: 228% additional costs.
Further, cost of absenteeism and lower productivity at work due to health issues, further compound the increase in healthcare expenses. A Quest Diagnostics India Health Trend Report, published after analyzing the laboratory results of our corporate health and wellness program, Blue Print for Wellness™ shows an alarming trend towards increased risk for chronic diseases across corporates in India. Of the approximately 3,500 employees tested, across 19 different companies over a 3-year period, 63 percent were at risk for developing cardiac related complications and almost 28 percent were at risk for diabetes.
Health risk assessment
With increased understanding of health risks comes the need to have a strategy to tackle the problem. From our experience of conducting health risk assessments across organizations in India, some best practices that are worth following include:
i) Make it convenient for your employees: On-site programs generally result in higher participation. Visits to outside healthcare facilities can be a put-off for many.
ii) Use it as an engagement activity: Organizations are converting annual health check-ups into health awareness programs with communications and related activities that increase participation.
iii) How much is enough? While it is good to provide a comprehensive risk assessment, it may lead to low employee participation as these programs are not on-site. A good health risk assessment should include blood tests and bio-metrics evaluation to arrive at a risk score for individuals and the organization.
iv) Measure what you want to improve: It is important to have a ROI metrics for health risk assessments. An improvement in organization’s health risk score is a simple, directed metrics which can be used for this purpose.
v) Business buy-in: Employee health risk assessment is not just an activity for HR to conduct. It requires the buy-in from different business functions, for it to be successful.
The day an organization starts to measure and track employee health like it measures business results, we will move a step closer to creating a truly healthy organization, financially and medically.