How do business owners view occupational health?
If your computer system breaks down, you call an IT company. If you need to promote a new product, you’ll use a marketing team.
If your employees are sick, what do you do? Accept a medical certificate and set about covering the absence at whatever cost?
Any business owner or manager will know that employee absence costs a company dearly: loss of production or output, loss of a salary, increased pressures on remaining staff. Annual leave is a given – it can be built into business planning and budgets – but absence through ‘sickness’ is an unknown quantity.
This is where a proactive occupational health service can help, and more and more wise businesses are switching on to the fact that by opening their minds to the idea makes sound business sense.
I could at this point throw huge numbers into this blog: research carried out in 2008 by Dame Carol Black identified that ill health was costing the UK economy in excess of £100 billion per year in terms of care and lost productivity.
Lost working days were calculated to be in the region of 172 million! Such figures are almost incomprehensible to us mere mortals, but if we scale that down to something more understandable, the CBI Absence Survey (using figures from 2014) states that: “Apart from the obvious effects of ill health on individuals and their families, absence from work costs the UK economy £14bn a year, according to the CBI, and figures release by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development show the overall average cost of ill-health, per employee per year in 2014, was £609. Within that, the private sector average was £520, 43% less than the public sector average of £914.
“Get away from the idea that OH is just another nose in your trough – see it instead for what it is – a vital tool to mend a vital resource which is broken”
It follows then that companies need to take more notice of their sickness absence rates and become more proactive if they are to quell the tide of increasing employment costs. This is where a good occupational health service provider can make a world of difference.
Get away from the idea that it is just another nose in your trough – see it instead for what it is – a vital tool to mend a vital resource which is broken. If used correctly, OH can actually become a self financing benefit for employers and employees alike if allowed to introduce appropriate strategies.
Often, the medical discipline ‘Occupational Health’ is confused with Occupational Therapy which is more to do with helping people re-adjust to life following illness or injury. Occupational health is a business-to-business service concerned with the health of employees – the effects of health on work and work on health – and ultimately the human health of the business. New employee health screening, drug testing, health surveillance and flu jabs are just a few of the proactive services that can be provided. A more comprehensive list can be found on All Health Matters.
There is a raft of companies out there servicing this market – some big, some small, some lone operators. The company you choose has to ‘fit’ your organisation and provide the service most appropriate to your needs. Don’t be fooled – big is not always the best – this is a “people” business and there is nothing more important than the personal touch.
If you would like help on understanding the level of service that would benefit your company, we would be pleased to offer you impartial advice and if for some reason we cannot provide the right level, then we can help you source the most suitable provider.
Contact me anytime for a free informal discussion.
Gill Monk is MD and founder of All Health Matters, an occupational health provider, contact her on 01227 451233 or email [email protected]
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