The times they are a changing…
There is now a move to look at wellbeing initiatives in the workplace to improve bottom line figures. No longer are employers relying on NHS timescales to fix their employees and bring them back to work. Now there is a move to pay for proactive treatments to speed access to diagnosis and treatment. With the new Fit for Work scheme offering £500 so that each employee can access treatment with no tax implications, the time is right to take action. Here are 5 key areas to get you started.
1. Find out what sickness is costing you.
Look at the costs and the on costs of both long and short term absence. Discuss this with whoever in your organisation is responsible for setting this budget. Look at ways of using this money more proactively. Try and drill down to look at what exactly the money is being spent on. Even making changes slowly by having a 5 year plan is a start. You have to look at turning this oil tanker around.
2. Look at what wellness in the workplace would mean for your business.
There is a lot of research and good examples of how a happy healthy engaged workforce is good for business. Are you benchmarking your organisation against an organisation which has embraced a wellness culture? What similar things could you begin to implement over the next few years? What would your wellness strategy look like? This doesn’t have to be a massive task, use what you’ve got, your people. Let them lead the way by starting a wellness group at work and see what your employees would value.
3. Be proactive in your sickness absence management.
Do you constantly have employees off sick waiting for NHS tests or a Consultant appointment so that a diagnosis can be confirmed? Once the diagnosis is established, a treatment plan can be put in place and the likelihood and timelines for a return to work can be established. Many diagnostic tests and appointments cost less than paying a months’ salary. You can devise your own fast track plan to return your employees to health. St Joseph’s Hospital in Newport for example, has a full range of diagnostic tests and Consultants in every speciality available to support businesses in getting employees back to work. Look at how this could work for you. Go and visit and discuss the options.
4. Have you got an EAP?
Many employers now have an EAP in place to support employees with mental health issues etc. This will not help however if your employees are off sick waiting for an MRI scan. Why do we pay for EAPs but hold back from supporting employees with other health issues? It may be that you need to review the costs and benefits of your EAP. Is it used? Is it helping to save you money? If not, think again at how this money could be spent better.
5. Support Managers to manage.
Many managers are on the ‘front line’ in terms of keeping everything going and the ongoing pressures can increase the risk of ill health and long term sickness absence. Putting a plan in place to train and support managers can be the single most important investment you can make. Do your managers understand the stress risk assessment tool? Have they been trained in resilience? Do you send them for annual tests to ensure the basics such as cholesterol and BP are measured? Investing in managers will mean that that your employees will be better supported as managers will feel empowered to tackle issues at an early stage.