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More than one-third of companies’ corporate missions includes improving employees’ health, and 37% indicate that a health and productivity management program is included in the business plan. Those are the results of research conducted by the Institute for Health and Productivity Management (IHPM), a research institution that studies employee health’s impact on productivity.
Riedel and Associates Consultants and William M. Mercer conducted the study for the IHPM. The research team conducted in-depth structured interviews with health and human resources decision makers at 60 corporations with an average of 33,000 employees and $320 million in annual health care costs.
The purpose was to learn:
The team’s definition of productivity included both absenteeism and performance while at work. Wendy Lynch, PhD, and Susan Willette of William M. Mercer, and John Riedel, president of Reidel and Associates, presented the study findings to 125 corporate leaders during the recent IHPM North American Leadership Summit in Toronto.
Sean Sullivan, president and CEO of IHPM, says the study results support efforts to devote a company’s resources to employee health. "In recent years, researchers have documented a significant link between employee health and productivity," Sullivan says. "As more evidence appears, the emphasis on productivity in occupational health conferences and publications also has intensified. As with any new idea, some employers implement it into programs much more quickly than others."
These are some more results of the study:
— Most respondents feel that productivity will become a higher priority in decisions about employee health matters at their companies. On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being most likely, respondents rated the likelihood that productivity would be considered in health-related decisions at eight.
— Companies identified three major obstacles to adopting a health and productivity business model: lack of data from multiple sources, shortage of hard evidence, and insufficient senior management support.
— "High-adoption" companies are more likely to have a health and productivity goal in their business plan or corporate mission. These companies have access to more data, believe their data are reliable, and are likely to collect objective performance data about their employees.
— Companies are interested in knowing about better productivity measurement and simulation modeling tools.
— Companies at all levels of adoption lack a common language for understanding and communicating about productivity issues.
— Company culture plays a major role in deciding whether to adopt a health and productivity business model. Cultures that measure and reward performance outcomes will naturally tend toward using productivity information for strategic purposes. Also, cultures that promote collaboration between operations and human resources have an ideal setting for proactive health and productivity management.
"This study reinforces the need for keener awareness and more compelling data to support the business case linking health and productivity management in the workplace," Sullivan says.