Worcester Business Journal
Worker Wellness Competitiveness Profitability
by Carol Tschirpke, RPT
Executives, managers, supervisors, and workers as well as union leaders generally agree that employee wellness proves pivotal to competitiveness, productivity, and profitability.
Often grudgingly accepted as a cost of doing business, especially in manufacturing, absenteeism, transitional duty assignments, short- and long-term disability and, certainly, events known as OSHA Recordables impede progress on company timetables and overall growth.
Employee morale often suffers when people are literally limping around.
But those seemingly endless drains on dollars can be reduced, even dramatically so.
Environmental, Health & Safety professionals understand the interrelationships, in plants and offices, which produce more high quality work in less time as well as savings, and which, in turn, make alert companies even more competitive and profitable.
Always obviously desirable in its own right, a consistently high level of worker wellness can support a company’s marketplace promises, which, especially in the current demanding economy, can also position a company for swifter progress when customers begin to place more and larger orders.
As a business decision-maker, you certainly will want to examine several factors when you analyze the value of a worker wellness program.
A comprehensive worker wellness program goes far beyond leaving stacks of a flyer in a break room, and is more than a once-in-a-while seminar. It only barely begins with a nod toward merely avoiding physical problems in the workplace. And don’t forget that an employee’s off-hours injuries produce on-the-job problems.
The very most superior formal employee wellness programs succeed by successfully becoming unnecessary as their strong educational component drives sound workplace practices into the bedrock of operations. Worker wellness eventually develops into standard operating procedure.
A strong underpinning of corporate-wide continuous improvement is a healthy, productive and value-added workforce. That kind of progress requires proof, certainly including long-term cost reductions.
Those reductions, viewed as opportunities in a wellness program, include job hazard analysis; cross training in jobs; identification and correction of painful symptoms in workers; ergonomics for workstation evaluation, posture, body mechanics, stretching and strengthening programs as well as home exercise programs; and, where appropriate, recommendations for medical intervention. The very finest worker wellness programs perform all of those activities right on the job, around the clock, if necessary.
Then there are a tiny number of wellness programs that doggedly develop and deliver definitive documentation detailing cost control and resulting increases in productivity stemming from stepped-up worker wellness.
Even among those few wellness programs are a handful of specialists who provide employer administrative assistance by accelerating the bureaucratic handling of employee conditions and their paperwork.
The outcomes? Process-wide ergonomic efficiencies, behavioral-based and cooperative culture changes, company progress toward continuous improvement and Lean Manufacturing milestones, and employer-employee enthusiastic voluntary involvement in the hard science root-cause fundamentals of the superb wellness programs.
Elite wellness programs are proactive, promote early detection of issues rather than late reporting of claims, encourage a zero accident mentality, further the Job Coaching concept,
and advance employers to the OSHA Voluntary Protection Program Status for Excellence in Health & Safety.More productivity and lower costs, resulting in less down time and a healthier workforce – all documented – summarize the value of the top most business-sensitive wellness programs.
Carol Tschirpke, RPT, is the Managing Partner of Quality Physical Therapy/BioSynchronistics®, a 27-year-old multi-clinic practiced, based in Sturbridge.
Reprinted with permission.