Employee health is very much on the corporate agenda right now, and with good reason, says Matthew Lawrence Head of Broking and Proposition for Health and Risk at Aon Employee Benefits.
Lifestyle-related illnesses are on the increase: three quarters of men are expected to be clinically obese by 2030 whilst money worries are putting women more at risk of heart attack, for example. It stands to reason then, that external stressors and lifestyle choices are going to have an impact on health and wellbeing which in turn will have an adverse effect on productivity levels.
But it’s not just external factors which are creating an unhealthy workforce, the workplace itself is thought to be the biggest cause of stress, according to a recent study.
It may sound like employers are up against it, but there are several steps employers can take to help maintain a healthy workforce. Lawrence suggests:
Acknowledge it is a real business issue: Those at C-suite level want to address the problem in order to develop a true culture of health.
Understand: Across their benefit lines, employers will have lots of valuable data that if used correctly can enable them to take a credible snapshot of their health risks at a given point in time.
Utilise data for an integrated approach: Too often integrated means a number of providers sitting round a table talking about issues. Instead, it should be much more meaningful, data-driven action and with less chat.
Communicate: Tell employees what is happening and why. Also, use the right platforms to segment the population or health risks and proactively target ‘at risk’ groups. Employers want employees to value their brand, this is a great opportunity to do so.
Be proactive: Don’t just focus on reactive measures but be proactive and have programmes that will have the greatest impact. This is likely to be around eating better, being more active, better/targeted screening, training key facilitators for a healthy workforce e.g. line managers.
Transparent reporting: Report openly to employees on objectives and performance against these objectives. Influence: If employees are suffering chronic medical conditions such as depression, obesity, diabetes, or high blood pressure, support them so that they can learn how to manage these conditions or better understand what they can do to try and improve their situation. Better still, take proactive action to educate employees about the potentially negative impacts of bad lifestyle behaviours such as smoking, poor diet or excessive alcohol consumption.
Integrate wellbeing programmes: Ensure any wellbeing programme is not just related to physical health. Financial wellbeing is important and if not factored in, can have a negative impact on trying to maintain a healthy workforce.
Matthew Lawrence said: “Increasing numbers of employers are making the link between positive employee health and organisational health. Implementing targeted strategies is the way forward to improve employee health – an approach many businesses are looking into.”
He added: “Thanks to Aon’s data-driven and analytic approach, we are able to advise on key health and wellbeing decisions businesses make. So whether an employer wants to take a ‘moment in time’ view to understand their health risks better, benchmark their performance or project future benefit spend or complete a deep dive analysis specifically on their claims data, Aon is well placed to do this.”