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Prevention is Key to Good Healthcare
Supporting employees who are off sick is good, but preventing them falling ill in the first place is what will make the difference in the long run if employers are serious about reducing the cost and burden of workplace ill-health and absence, research has suggested.
Investing in services that can proactively work to prevent employees falling ill and being absent will be one of the key ways employers tackle the UK’s workplace health challenges over the next five years, a survey has forecast.
The poll by insurer and healthcare provider AXA PPP healthcare has argued that nearly half (46%) of employers agreed improving ease of access would improve the health of the UK workforce in the next five years, with the same percentage agreeing that increased availability of services could be equally beneficial.
The online survey of 1,000 managers and decision-makers concluded 40% felt increasing the availability of reactive health services for employees would also help to improve workplace in the next five years.
The poll also gauged the workplace health challenges that were most worrying the senior executives. More than half (51%) cited mental health, 44% said obesity and 30% pointed to high blood pressure.
A strong majority, 75%, agreed employers should proactive support employees to manage their health and wellbeing, and 77% said their company already had a health and wellbeing strategy in place.
Other key challenges identified by the poll included a lack of employee engagement (highlighted by 40% of respondents), an inability to evaluate the impact of the strategy (32%), inadequate budget (26%) and lack of resource to deliver the health and wellbeing strategy (21%). A further 68% said what employers needed from a healthcare services provider was a proven holistic approach to health and wellbeing.
Charlotte Cross, director of the BHWA, strongly agreed: “The evidence for employers working with healthcare providers to take a more proactive, preventative approach to workplace health is compelling.
“Last autumn, for example, a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research and Unum calculated that stepping in early to provide early intervention support and vocational rehabilitation could reduce the average length of absence by 17%, and by 18% for those with mental health conditions.
“But what is also clear is employers and managers, however well-intentioned, are often busy with the ‘day job’ and need support and guidance as to the best approach to take and the most appropriate provider. That’s where an organisation such as the BHWA can help, in being a one-stop-shop resource and marketplace for providers and employers alike.”
Chris Horlick, distribution director for AXA PPP healthcare, added: “It’s encouraging to see so many businesses acknowledging they have a degree of responsibility for employee health and wellbeing at work and, as a result, implementing strategies to support this.
“However, businesses, and arguably the workplace health services industry as a whole, can struggle to define what holistic health and wellbeing strategies should look like. This can mean that in practice they fail to include measurable objectives, thereby preventing meaningful evaluation of their impact.”
To learn more about starting points for workplace health, read our article on Putting together the right components of a forward thinking work-health strategy
Author: Nic Paton, BHWA blogger and news team. Please send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org
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