Numerous research studies show that employee health and wellness are crucial for workplace success. Businesses whose employees spend time away from work due to illness cost employers more in revenue. Employers are paying their employee for sick days while also hiring a temporary worker to complete the job of that employee.
The former CEO of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island sums it up fairly well when he says that when workplace wellness is viewed holistically, and wellness programs are offered without emphasizing a return on investment (ROI), “Companies can expect reduced absenteeism and presenteeism, greater employee engagement and productivity, less unscheduled paid time off, fewer workers’ comp claims, greater employee retention, increased employee satisfaction and morale, and demonstrable competitive advantage.”
Why Employee Wellness is Important
Studies show that when an employee does not show up for work, the cost to the business is an average of 28 percent higher than the employee’s actual wage. Sometimes, sick employees show up to work, referred to as ‘presenteeism.” But their work level is not optimal, still costing employer money.
Over the past few years, many businesses have developed employee health and wellness programs. Studies have shown that employees who participate in these programs save employers money and also increase workplace productivity.
There are two types of employee wellness programs.
- Lifestyle management. This focuses on diet, exercise, and lifestyle changes. While these programs reduce health care claims, they do not significantly lead to lower employer health care costs, but since the employees develop healthier habits, the rate of absenteeism decreases and productivity increases.
- Disease management. Disease management programs have also shown to substantially decrease absenteeism and increase employee productivity. This has been substantiated by various studies. A six-year study conducted a few years ago by Johnson & Johnson showed that in companies with wellness programs, there were meaningful reductions in employees who suffered from chronic disease factors such as “obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, tobacco use, physical inactivity or poor nutrition.”
Employee Health and Wellness Enhances Productivity
A study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that employees who participated in an employee wellness program increased their annual productivity rate and thus saved companies money. Other evidence indicates that workplace wellness programs reduce sick leave by at least 25 percent.
Some research has found a link between physical activity and cognitive functioning. When employees have the benefit of increased memory and are able to have a clearer focus on their work, their produce desired results, enhance productivity and contribute towards increasing the bottom line of their company.
Another study showed that when employees with chronic illnesses were enrolled in disease-management programs which also made sure they received appropriate care, they had fewer ER visits and fewer hospital stays which meant less time off of work.
Achieving Employee Health and Wellness Through Occupational Medicine
One way employers can achieve employee health and wellness is by offering health and wellness programs to their employees through occupational medicine. The use of employer portals allows employers to track the progress of the program. This portal helps physicians and their staff to securely and easily share employee documents and statements with the employer’s registered with the occupational medicine clinic. An employer, depending on the number of employees can have an internal occupational medicine clinic or can be associated with an external clinic.
According to an in-depth article published in Forbes on workplace wellness, the programs should focus on five main factors:
- Health assessments
- Health screenings
- Health education
Maintaining interest and a high participation level are key to having a successful program.
What is Occupational Medicine and its benefits
Occupational medicine focuses on preventing and treating work-related injuries and illnesses. Occupational medicine providers conduct routine check-ups and treat work-related injuries for employees. They are well versed with federal and state regulations on employee and workplace health and safety. This includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Occupational medicine providers work directly with employers. They ensure that the workplace is safe and conducive for employees and also provide a range of services designed to protect work-related injuries, accidents, and illnesses. Some of these services include:
- Pre-employment physicals to ensure that the employee meets the physical requirements of the job.
- Random drug screening to determine that the employee can safely perform his assigned duties.
- Injury prevention programs which are designed to teach employees how to properly lift and carry objects to prevent back injuries. Employees learn how practicing ergonomics reduce the risk of injuries that come with repetitive movement.
- Preventive programs and health screenings to assist employees who are at a risk for health issues like diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, etc.
- Employees who work with hazardous materials are provided periodic medical screenings for early detection of disease.
- Workers Compensation reports to help facilitate the injured worker’s treatment, compensation and return-to-work plan.
Occupational Medicine EHR
At PrognoCIS, we provide occupational medicine electronic health records (EHR) software for health care practitioners and employers who are involved with the health care management of their employee. Apart from the services mentioned above like random drug testing, pre-employment physical etc, there are tools in Occupational medicine that makes care delivery easier, efficient and effective. Some of these tools that help Employers to work effectively with Occupational medicine providers include:
- Employer portal that allows employers to view patient visits, their outstanding medical payments, and the invoices to accompany the claims.
- Employer Specific Protocols are the ground rules that employers set for employee treatment and wellness in accordance with the nature of their work.
- Templates for physicians for random drug testing, pre-employment physical, DOT exams and more.