Investing in the health and wellness of employees has become a top priority among employers in 2022. With many businesses now encouraging workers to return to the office, implementing steps to safeguard employee health and reduce infection rates has become imperative. Many employees are apprehensive about returning to work and are more likely to feel at ease returning to a safe environment with a robust occupational health policy in place.
This article explains the role of corporate and occupational healthcare and looks at some of the corporate health benefits businesses are offering their employees today.
What is Corporate and Occupational Health?
Occupational health is the sector of public health which aims to promote and sustain the highest degree of physical and mental health of employees in the working environment. By law, employers are required to implement measures to prevent physical and mental ill health at work due to business activities. In the current post-pandemic aftermath, some companies are hiring corporate nurses to offer further protection from infection and raise confidence levels in employees on their return to work.
What do Corporate Nurses do within Companies?
Corporate Nurses have different practical and educational roles within occupational health; however, their primary duties in companies today include:
- Performing routine health checks at work
- First aid
- Onsite Covid-19 corporate testing
- Rapid antigen testing
- Temperature monitoring
- Advising employers on the best measures to prevent infection from spreading
- Helping companies follow standard updated procedures when an employee becomes infected with Covid-19
- Reassuring employees with concerns about Covid-19
Some companies have hired corporate nursing teams to perform breast screening tests in the workplace as a measure to detect signs of breast cancer and treat it at an early stage. Corporate and occupational health nurses often include more general services like:
- Seasonal health checks
- Health monitoring after illness
- Onsite blood pressure monitoring
- Drug/urine testing
- Stress management advice and training
- Lung testing
- Night workers assessments
- Vision and hearing tests
- Workstation assessments
- Advice on workplace design and ergonomic furniture
Why is Corporate and Occupational Healthcare important?
Employers engage occupational health professionals to ensure that their company meets legal requirements in providing a safe and healthy working environment. A core aspect of occupational health is to assess how work and the working environment affect employees’ physical and mental health and then address issues that might negatively impact them. Reasons to prioritise occupational healthcare are suggested below:
- Health issues reduce employee productivity and incur costs.
- Organisations that take steps to promote wellness among employees often gain greater staff engagement and loyalty and higher employee retention rates.
- Taking measures to focus on staff health and well-being also reduces absenteeism and its associated costs.
- Providing onsite health checks and related services allows employees to look after their health onsite in a time-efficient way. It also means they miss less time from work attending medical appointments.
The ‘New Normal’ and Employees’ Expectations
The pandemic has shifted employee expectations, with workers now seeking greater flexibility to achieve a better work-life balance. While job seekers value reasonable compensation and working conditions, they also prioritise company culture and want to work in companies whose values and ethos align with theirs. In the wake of the pandemic, good physical and mental health has become a fundamental value. With companies keen to see employees back at work or working on a hybrid basis, they are rethinking their policies and occupational health provision to make workplaces more attractive for employees.
How can Companies Build a Culture that Promotes Good Physical and Mental Health?
While most companies have implemented measures in response to the pandemic, employees are looking for long-term holistic health support in the workplace. While facilitating flexible working patterns and hybrid working is key, other ways of supporting the workforce might include:
- Mental health first aid training for managers. This increasingly popular measure helps leaders develop an empathetic approach to support workers that might be struggling with stress levels.
- Leading by example. Staff in leadership roles might consider managing their own workloads and reducing their working hours to reduce burnout.
- Commitment to health and well-being through company policies. This might include a four-day working week or extended lunch and fresh air breaks.
- Providing onsite yoga or meditation where possible. Free counselling and meditation app subscriptions might be made available to employees if onsite sessions aren’t practical.
- Greater team building and social activities to suit a range of personalities. More inclusive measures can be introduced to facilitate connection among workers.
- Private health insurance. This valuable incentive gives the message that the company really does care about its employees.
- Offering a choice of health club, gym subscriptions or well-being retreat An element of choice means that perks related to health and well-being appeal to all individuals in the workplace.
Occupational Health Trends in 2022
With workplaces and patterns changing, the occupational health and safety sector must stay abreast of these changes to keep employees safe and healthy. Digital transformation has advanced trends in occupational health with some of the innovations outlined below:
- Wearable safety devices. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be basic or might contain sensors to detect if employees are exposed to risks or hazards. Sensors can activate alarms to alert wearers of hazards in the environment.
- Wearable tech can also monitor workers’ vital signs like body temperature, heart rate and blood pressure. They also monitor sleep amount and quality.
- Virtual Safety Training. Videoconferencing and online meeting systems provide virtual learning opportunities. Employees can now access health and safety training online, a cost-effective, time-saving measure.
- A Training matrix. Keeping track of employee health and safety training and inductions can be easily recorded in a file or cloud-based training matrix.
- Biosensors to track blood sugar levels and other health-related factors are more easily accessible. Health surveillance apps are becoming more popular.
- Client portals. Many occupational health companies offer secure digital portals where companies can schedule staff appointments and access results simply.
- Staff absenteeism will become easier to track and record digitally, which can help employers detect work-related issues and implement support for employees.
Advancements in telehealth and automation in healthcare in 2022 and beyond will enable companies to track health and safety compliance and support their workforce more efficiently. However, the role of corporate and occupational health nurses in providing a personalised, hands-on approach within companies will continue to grow in importance.
For more information on corporate and occupational healthcare, feel free to get in touch with Ryan O’Flaherty.
+353 1 901 5271