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Early intervention for employee health can cut sick leave by 17%

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Prevention really is better than cure when it comes to corporate wellness, as a new study finds early intervention and rehabilitation can prevent employees from taking long-term leave of absence from work because of illness.

report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, commissioned by Unum, looked at the impact of early intervention typically found in group income protection (GIP) products, in reducing sickness absence.

The report, which covered more than 500 employees, estimated that sickness absence of six months or more can cost the typical business in the UK as much as £770,000 (or HK$8,932,000) a year.

The most typical causes for long-term sickness absence were mental ill health and musculoskeletal conditions.

It found having in place the three elements of prevention, intervention and protection can help business by reducing employees’ length of absence by 17%.

Managing mental health conditions saw the greatest impact, with an 18% reduction in the duration of absence as a result of using early intervention services.

These interventions include vocational rehabilitation as well as access to health insurance.

ALSO READ: Nursing employees to a healthy work-life balance

Under the “prevention” umbrella, initiatives include ergonomic assessments, and the promotion of health campaigns (like stopping smoking).

The “intervention” category included tools that support employees when they first show signs of a mental or physical health problem, while “protection” is generally associated with different types of insurance programmes.

As a result of using this three-pronged approach, for every £100 an employer spent on a GIP policy, it got £61 back through avoiding occupational sick pay and other costs associated with sickness absence.

Actively using early intervention services included as part of GIP packages increased this payback by around 10%, or £66 payback for every £100 spent.

The report pointed out as the workforce gets older, more staff will require care for long-term illnesses.

The rate of long-term sickness is expected to grow by 4% by 2030, making early intervention more important than ever.

If cutting healthcare costs and raising overall wellness is your priority, Employee Healthcare Interactive 2015, Asia’s premier forum on employee healthcare management, is coming up – find out more.

Image: Shutterstock

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