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Archive for March, 2020|Monthly archive page

The Future of Health Risk at Workplace

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2020 at 11:23 am

The people-centric workplace is known for its good profits and higher growth. In contrast, many organisations favor progress of corporate scorecard inattentive to its impact on employee health scorecard. What is the future of health risk at workplace? Let’s understand this by some examples.

Hilton (USA) has been ranked at the number one workplace in Fortune 100 Best Companies to work for 2019. Hospitality at its core, Hilton offers one of the best guest services due to its unique team members. The company is a firm believer in investing in employees and team development for its best services. Clearly, Hilton is not in the business of social services; the differentiating factor is its unique strategy to serve customers. In 2019, Hilton generated approximately 9.5 billion dollars in revenue, significantly up from the last year (8.91 billion US dollars). The power of word of mouth for friendly staff and safe working environment worked wonders for the company. Words spread automatically by people, whether it is about employment conditions or customer service. Indirect benefits for low expenditure in advertising and enhanced brand building are, in general, not accounted in any balancesheet. This is all about creating an eco-system for higher performance of employees, but what about the wellbeing of employees.

workplace safety

Two years back, the impressive statement of Ex-Chairman of Sundaram Fasteners (part of the $7.2 billion TVS group) at annual conference of Entrepreneur Café at Chennai made a mark: an organisation is growing when its employees are growing along with corporate success. For example, buying a new house, education of children, their certification, and promotion. To sum up, employee associates their wellbeing with the company’s prosperity like a family. The value of an organisation should be imbibed in employee’s day to day life.

A few years back, when I was studying at University of Edinburgh Business School for my Ph.D, I came to know the concept of green footprints of business school. On average, students were used to walking more than 5 miles per day which is a far distant aim for students in India. They are working day and night to secure good marks and placement. Same is happening at corporate level. I observe very rarely attention is paid to student green footprints or employee footprints. Issues related to Cardiac arrest, blood sugar, obesity, and depression are at an all-time high. Recently, I have visited a few academic institutions and found many professors and senior executives are dying suddenly due to cardiac arrest and cancer, leaving all personal and corporate responsibilities in the lurch. That gives me an idea about the possibility of linking a healthier workplace and healthier lifestyle with a corporate scorecard in the future?

A recent attempt was the development of Worksite Health ScoreCard by CDC to establish benchmarks and track improvements (evaluation) over time. The aim was to assist employers and business coalitions to create healthier workplaces. Simultaneously, state or local health departments also can use the tool for monitoring worksite practices and track improvements in worksite health promotion programs over time to more effectively direct resources to support employers.

This idea can be utilised for not only to fulfill work and safety regulation, creating a better eco-system, but also for discounting insurance premiums and for preventive healthcare by state and national health insurance bodies such as Modicare in India or Medicare in the US. Though low cost, high access, data aggregation are an added advantage of this new approach, however, there could be some concerns related to the privacy of employees and misuse of data by companies. Nowadays, many companies are offering free health check-ups, dispensaries, along with medical insurance to their employees as a part of facilities in overall salary.

Nonetheless, issues in healthcare at the holistic level are still in silos. Health authorities at the state and national level are clueless, how to improvise quality of healthcare, increase access, reduce cost with an overall aim to improve health and wellbeing of society.

Imagine a different situation, when employers and states are no more able to handle the rising healthcare cost burden anymore. Insurance companies are also over-burdened and forced to charge so hefty premium that it may become unaffordable for the large population. What are the possibilities to deal with such kind of risk? Another situation, if a state knows that 75% of healthcare cost is due to preventable chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (bronchitis, emphysema), and diabetes, what actions they should do?

Our corporate actions have great social impacts. Personal health is closely linked with Corporate HealthCard. Similarly, global Pandemics like COVID-19 present a live example about how social health risk is linked with our personal health risk. Management of health risk is essential for business. Good physical, mental, corporate and social health would be a performance driver in the future.

References 

https://www.cdc.gov/dhdsp/pubs/docs/HSC_Manual.pdf

Loeppke, R., Edington, D. W., & Bég, S. (2010). Impact of the prevention plan on employee health risk reduction. Population health management13(5), 275-284.