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Make Occupational Health programmes work harder – ten tips from Aon

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Aon is offering 10 tips to help organizations maximize the use of occupational health (OH) programmes. Generally, employers use occupational health to be responsible and compliant, while also reducing costs. Aon’s 2018 Benefits and Trends survey released in August 2018 found that 96% of employers agree that they have a responsibility to influence employee health, although only 65% access occupational health services.

The authors explain that a common theme of OH programmes is intervention, which cuts employee absenteeism and offers support during recovery from illness and suggest a number of practical steps.

10 steps to optimize occupational health programmes

  1. Invest time and energy to understand what your company and employees need. Armed with this, you can find the best provider to align with, understand and support your strategy.
  2. Although costs of OH providers differ, so do service levels, processes, clinical availability, capability and outcomes. Therefore, rather than focusing on cost, make your partnership decision based on the value that will be delivered to your organisation’s specific needs.
  3. Build a close relationship with your OH provider; take time to understand all its service offerings, and use its expertise to support your business and particular employee health issues.
  4. Engage with employees who are referred to OH, to dispel any common misconceptions. They may worry that you are trying to get rid of them or to catch them out. Instead, use the opportunity to show a caring and supportive approach.
  5. Use OH proactively – refer employees for an assessment while they are still at work, with the aim of keeping them at work.
  6. Provide training to line managers so they understand what OH is and how to get the most out of it. They may also have misconceptions – perhaps that an OH provider is not objective or will make recommendations that are impractical to accommodate.
  7. The old adage ‘you get out what you put in’ applies. Carefully craft referrals, make sure all relevant supporting information is included and be clear on what you would like the provider to answer.
  8. Involve occupational health in your health and well-being strategy, particularly combining their data with yours to inform well-being practices. This will help avoid unhelpful costs or programmes.
  9. Invite your OH provider to join meetings with other health-related providers such as Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs), to encourage collaboration that improves patient pathways by sharing trends and discussing new ways to tackle health risks.
  10. Use OH as a preventive measure to protect employees against workplace hazards. Also be aware of contemporary hazards such as work-related stress, which has risen in prominence and is not confined to any particular industry or market.

The report concludes: “At its core, occupational health advises employers on the impact that work has on employee health and the impact employee health has on their ability to work. With this knowledge, employers can monitor and manage health risks and offer rehabilitation and return to work strategies – including adjustments for people with health problems or disabilities. Ultimately, OH helps to protect people’s health at work through creating healthier workplaces, minimizing sickness absence and improving performance.”

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