Health management: how employers can make a difference

A woman’s face, covered with post-its. (Photo: Benjamin Thorn / pixelio.de)
With adequate measures, each employee will experience less stress in the workplace. (Photo: Benjamin Thorn / pixelio.de)

Corporate health management stands for the company policies which address issues such as the health, the employability and the motivation of its employees. It is implemented as a preventative measure as well as a way to improve the employees' health and performance.

For any company, the health of its employees is a determinant factor of success. Healthy, efficient and motivated employees play an important role in how successful an enterprise is. According to the Federal Association of Company Health Insurance Funds in Germany (BKK), employees were on sick leave for an average of 16 days in 2011, which represents the highest number of work days lost due to illness in many years.

Work as a risk factor to mental health

An interesting and challenging job can be a source of fulfilment and motivation. However, work can also represent a risk to mental health, for example in case of physical strain through heavy work, repetitive movements or environmental factors. Mental disorders such as burnout and depression are happening more and more frequently. These can be caused by higher demands on the employee, increasing work rhythm or growing amounts of information.

For a long time, the most prevalent way of handling such a situation was to take measures only with the appearance of an illness or absence from work. However, corporate health management goes a step further, by promoting the performance of all employees. In order to achieve this, it is important to establish healthy work conditions as well as to raise awareness about the responsibility we have towards our own health.

A pannel mentioning the obligation of wearing a protection helmet. (Photo: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de)
Adequate measures are important in order to avoid injuries. (Photo: Dieter Schütz / pixelio.de)

What does corporate health management mean?

The starting point for a good functioning corporate health management is a good management of absences. An employer who is well aware of the reasons leading to absences from the workplace can adopt targeted measures such as trainings, campaigns, or ergonomic adjustments. Furthermore, Case Management Systems can provide assistance to an employee returning after frequent or long absences.

Similarly, corporate health management can also include such measures as to prevent risks for the employees. The employer has the obligation of adopting the necessary measures corresponding to the given work conditions. Apart from the choice of adequate measures and equipment, it is essential that the employee is familiar with personal protective equipment (PPE) and accepts it. PPE includes for example protective clothing, breathing masks, protective glasses, hearing protection or security helmets. It is also important that such equipment is comfortable to wear.

A man doing fitness exercises. . (Photo: Benjamin Thorn / pixelio.de)
Employees who are well balanced, physically and emotionally, are also more productive. (Photo: Benjamin Thorn / pixelio.de)

Innovative measures

Some enterprises go still a step further by offering the employees health management courses or subscription to a fitness club. The most important aspect however remains in implementing or improving the work conditions in a way that they will not cause damage but instead have a positive effect on the health and the performance of the employees. Ultimately, a positive working climate will play a determinant role.

Better performances and fewer absences

Research shows that time pressure or absences can be compensated through sufficient room for decision-making or more acknowledgment. SWiNG, a Swiss pilot research, demonstrates that systematic stress intervention leads to better work performances and less absences from the workplace.

 

Text: Simon Müller - 02/2013
Translation: MyH - 03/2013
Photos: pixelio.de