Image above from MedicalDaily.com
While the future of employer based health insurance remains uncertain, one certainty that remains is employers need healthy employees.
Your staff is the backbone of the organization, hence nurturing and facilitating good health practices not only ensures their stability and health but also that of your company/business.
Here are a few ways to accomplish this:
Offer the Flu Shot
According to the CDC, 20% of Americans get the flu each year, costing businesses $87 billion dollars a year. The cost of supplying the flu shot pales in comparison to 1/5 of your workforce calling out sick during your busy season. Supplying a one day flu shot clinic is not only economical but life saving as the flu can be deadly.
Provide Adequate Sick Leave
Sick leave varies per company and critics of extended sick leave are concerned with abuse of the paid days given. Some employees may use up their sick leave for personal time and then when cough and cold season comes around, they are forced to go to work sick or face unpaid leave. This exposes other workers to illness leaving more posts vacant when those employees need to take leave. Understandably, it’s a controversial subject as a small employer would have to staff double to ensure adequate coverage of a position if one calls out sick. The more sick leave, the potentially higher the cost.
However a few modifications may help both employer and employee.
a. Begin the Sick-Leave Cycle during Flu Season. Rather than Leave Periods renewing every July 1, start the new Leave Cycle November 1. This helps increase the chance that the employee would have their sick days untouched during a very common time of year when it needs to be used.
b. Make sure adequate hours are offered for both sick leave and personal leave. A cold, respiratory infection, stomach ailment, etc. can easily burn through 5 sick days. An employee taking off one or two days could still be contagious days 3-5 or more. Adequate sick leave prevents one from returning to work too soon.
c. Offer a means to earn extra days of leave. If an employee wants to re-earn sick leave/personal hours for later in the year, offer incentives or work projects that allow employees to gain extra days.
d. Institute an “hours bank”. If an employee has used all of his/her personal, vacation and sick leave, they can borrow from an “hours bank”. The “hours bank” could include hours donated by other employees, hours won during office contests, or simply a bank that exists that will award an employee additional time with the understanding that they will have to replenish the hours in the bank at a later date. This will allow an immediate need for sick time to be gratified but prevent abuse as it is understood to be a “loan” of hours.
Promote Prevention/Offer Screening Services
Encouraging employees to get preventative screens may help prevent serious illness. These screens can be done at their primary care provider’s office or the employer can bring the screening in-house.
Encourage Getting Up and Moving Around
Before the end of each hour, a “stand up and move around” alarm should go off and allow 5-10 minutes of physical activity. Not only is this beneficial for health but helps prevent burnout in the work place.
Offer Healthy Snacks
Swap the sugary carbs in the snack machine with healthy juices, snacks, and bottled water. Encourage potlucks or contests where employees bring in their most creative healthy snacks.
Image above from HealthyFamily
Have Plenty of Sinks and Hand Sanitizing Stations
An individual’s workplace can get very dirty as studies have shown computer keyboards to hold more pathogens than a toilet seat. Offering cleansing wipes, wall sinks and sanitizing stations will improve employee hygiene.
Offer Workstation Modifications
Many employees may suffer from low back pain, arthritis, hemorrhoids, and a variety of conditions that may worsen when one sits all day at a computer. Offering chair modifications, for example, could decrease their need to call out and help improve their comfort and therefore efficiency.
A well implemented program for workplace and employee health is a necessity for all organizations, and as you will come to see, cost saving in the long run.