Ensuring workplace wellness
Companies’ investments in the health and wellbeing of employees are no longer just a company benefit. Rather, they are seen as an integral part in ensuring a smooth workflow within the organisation.
A recent survey from the Society of HR revealed that 33% of companies have used health benefits ranging from paid leave to wellness programmes, to keeping employees of all levels from leaving.
This is especially evident in local organisations that have been providing dedicated health screenings as part of their benefits.
“Regular health screenings can prevent debilitating diseases later on in life through early detection and treatment,” says Yong Yih Ming, Deputy General Manager of Raffles Medical Group (RMG).
“As the workforce ages, this becomes an even more important aspect. Screenings co-relate directly with a company’s productivity through the sustenance of a healthy and contributing workforce.”
Health screenings are also often the first opportunity for employees to discover if they are at risk of an illness.
These screenings can address staff on what lifestyle changes they can make to promote good health and to optimise their overall wellbeing, as Dr Kok Chuan, Deputy Medical Director, Parkway Shenton, suggests.
He says early detection and treatment of illnesses will lower healthcare costs in the long run, as health problems are arrested and resolved before they have a chance to fester.
“Having a proper workplace health screening service in place also improves perceptions of the company as being a caring and responsible employer, and helps in promoting staff morale and loyalty,” he says.
Similarly, Derrick Ong, Head of Corporate Marketing, AsiaMedic, stresses that it is important for an employer to understand the value of early detection, as it can have a large impact on the overall performance of the organisation.
“Early detection allows prevention measures to be implemented early, preventing the onset of diseases and illnesses which will ultimately help to lower medical costs and prevent the loss of productivity,” he shares.
Teaming up with HR
The HR department is usually the coordinating unit for any corporate health schemes. Thus, it is essential for health providers to work with the in-house team to strategise and customise health screening programmes that are relevant and effective for the particular employee demographic.
Yong says data analytics provide the key to achieving good outcomes from corporate health screenings.
For example, RMG seeks to understand the demographics of its client companies, and then work with the HR team to customise relevant packages.
The process can include an employee health survey and basic health screening to establish the corporate healthcare trends against national benchmarks.
Thereafter, intervention programmes are developed and further customised to target the various health risks identified.
Some outcome indicators will be determined mutually with HR, serving as a joint objective for both HR and RMG in subsequent cycles of health screenings.
Communication between HR and health providers is also a vital part of any successful programme.
“It is extremely challenging to implement a suitable health screening package without first understanding the needs and demographics of a company, be it the age range, gender or scope of work done by employees,” Ong explains.
“Each factor plays a part in determining the most suitable health screening packages for employees.”
Talking from experience
Implementing health screening benefits for the first time can seem like a daunting task, from planning to execution.
In such instances, AsiaMedic is capable of sharing the experiences of other companies of similar size and demographics who have successfully incorporated health screenings.
“For example, if an organisation’s scope revolves around their employees working in noisy environments, we would advise them to include an audiometry test,” Ong shares.
“This way, the organisation will be able to track if their employees’ hearing has been deteriorating due to the working environment.”
RMG has been working with Far East Organisation for its corporate health screening programme. This involves onsite health screenings at the company’s many premises, as well as at designated medical centres.
In one particular year, RMG supported the company in its weight management initiative that complemented the Health Promotion Board’s “1 Million Kg Challenge”.
“This is a good example as it deviated from the traditional weight management programmes and added a competitive and fun element to arouse interests and participation,” Yong says.
Parkway Shenton also offers its clients’ employees screenings at both its workplace and at its clinics around Singapore. For companies looking for a more exclusive and comprehensive health screening solution for top-level executives, Parkway Shenton also offers executive health screening packages, which provides a one-stop centre with state-of-the-art medical technologies.
Increasingly, Dr Kok notices that employees appreciate the chance to customise health screenings to suit the individual’s health risk and family history.
“Discovering certain abnormalities allows for early intervention and treatment and the necessary follow-up to prevent further progression of the disease,” he shares.
One example will be the pre-diabetic state, where the patient is not diagnosed with diabetes itself, but has increased risks in having it deteriorated to diabetes.
Dr Kok notes that identifying such individuals early allows for lifestyle interventions, which can improve the employee’s health and prevent later complications.
There has also been a rise in demand for screenings that are completed over a shorter time frame.
This is largely due to the fact that clients are seeing a greater percentage of their workforce actively participating in the screenings. Clients are also keen to avoid the year-end peak period, which ensures that their staff are able to have a more seamless experience from appointment bookings to waiting time.
Yong notes that companies will typically engage a medical provider to integrate and coordinate their health schemes, so as to offer their employees a holistic and consistent framework.
“The interests in health screenings can come from consistent messaging from HR, with the support of the medical provider,” Yong shares.
He adds that data relating to employees’ clinic visits, medical leave and treatment-related expenditure can be analysed together with health screening data to objectively gauge the success of the programme.
“HR needs adequate data and benchmarks to firmly establish if their employees are healthy and happy,” Yong concludes.
Health and productivity schemes are key
Companies in the US are viewing health and productivity programmes as core components of their organisational health strategies.
According to the Staying@Work Report, released by Towers Watson, 49% of employers there believe it is “essential” to their overall health strategy and 42% reported that it plays at least a “moderate” role.
Additionally, 84% of companies plan to increase their health and productivity schemes over the next two years.
Currently, 50% of US employers don’t have a clear and articulated health strategy, but 59% plan to design a strategy that is differentiated from competitors over the next three years.
Is your workplace harmful?
About 35% of UK employees have reported that their workplace makes them feel unhealthy.
A recent YouGov survey found that 40% of workers believe they don’t get enough fresh air at work, and only half stated that they had access to sufficient natural light.
Kevin Chapman, head of office at Lend Lease, said, “It’s vital that employers consider the importance employees place on health and wellbeing and take steps to improve their workplaces – or risk losing top talent to rivals that do.”
How much do you spend on health incentives?
Employers are expanding their corporate health improvement and wellness programmes to improve health among their employees and create a positive workplace culture.
A recent survey from Fidelity Investments and the National Business Group on Health revealed that employers have spent an average of US$693 per employee on wellness-based incentives in 2015. This is an increase from US$594 in 2014.
Of the 79% of employers who offer health improvement programmes, larger companies with more than 20,000 employees, are spending the most on these programmes.
They currently spend an average of US$878, an increase from US$717 in 2014.
Yet, the average expenditure for companies with 5,000 to 20,000 employees stands at US$661, an increase from $493 in 2014.
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