Viewpoint

April 9, 2024

Prioritising Preventative Health For A More Productive Workforce

By Dr. Ikechukwu Amaechina

Have you ever wondered about the true state of your employees’ health? Are you confident that your existing wellness program is truly meeting their needs? A recent study by the Lancet Nigeria Commission uncovers a disturbing reality that demands immediate attention. It reveals how Nigeria’s healthcare system predominantly revolves around curative care, leaving it dismally unprepared to tackle the escalating rise of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and metabolic risks.

With the surge in cases of diabetes, hypertension, respiratory conditions, and other fatal NDCs, which, according to WHO research, account for about 29% of all Nigerian deaths in a single year, there is an urgent need to be proactive towards arresting the key causal factors such as unhealthy diets, sedentary lifestyles, and environmental pollutants driving these NDCs with early interventions.

As a business leader, relying on the failing curative health care system to manage the health and well-being of your valuable employees is a huge risk. The system’s inability to timely restore health and keep employees free from physical and mental ailments can cause reduced work output, ultimately resulting in lower productivity.

In today’s fast-paced business environment, where employees’ work is integrated, there is always a productivity cost to employees struggling with health issues or leaving work abruptly for emergency treatments. The purpose of a preventative healthcare program is to identify and prevent potential physical and mental health problems early among employees before they become severe.

When employees are healthy and satisfied, they are better motivated to drive innovation and achieve high performance for your organization. A Gallup evaluation report found that engaged employees—those who actively participate in wellness initiatives—realize an 81% difference in absenteeism, a 14% difference in productivity, and up to a 43% difference in turnover.

Enhancing Performances Through Preventative Health and Wellness Programs

In recent times, keeping employees healthy has become a smart business strategy. A proactive wellness program focused on prevention has emerged as a common initiative to enhance employee engagement and performance. This approach not only promotes employee well-being but also contributes to improved productivity and overall organizational success. Several studies support this. According to a report by APPC, taking proactive steps to prevent chronic illness among employees helps address two common challenges: presenteeism (reduced productivity due to poor health while at work) and absenteeism (taking time off work due to illness). By prioritising employee well-being, businesses can create a healthier and happier workplace. Working with over 2,000 of some of the best-known businesses across Nigeria, we’ve seen the impact of this first-hand: customers tell us that they know investing in health and wellness drives productivity, improves job satisfaction, and helps recruit and retain personnel by making them feel cared for and valued.

When considering preventative healthcare, business or wellness leaders must embrace comprehensive models that provide employees with dynamic coverage, health screenings, fitness initiatives, stress management, and nutrition education. Research from the World Economic Forum reveals that companies with robust health initiatives had a 115% growth in earnings per share compared with the 27% earnings per share seen in their competitors, underscoring the competitive advantage of a holistic approach to employee well-being.

Imagine a workplace where your workforce feels valued and supported, both in their work and personal lives. This is the power of all-inclusive leadership, which puts employee well-being at the forefront. By offering preventive healthcare options, businesses invest in their employees’ physical health, helping them perform at their best. But it doesn’t stop there. Programs like stress management workshops and mental health support show employees that their well-being is a priority.

Navigating Challenges of Preventive Healthcare and Wellness Programs

Championing preventative healthcare and wellness programs within organizations is not without its challenges. Workplace wellness leaders in Nigeria often encounter challenges such as lack of employee interest, limited access to healthcare facilities, access to affordable healthcare options, and cultural barriers when implementing preventative healthcare initiatives within organizations. The International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans survey found that among employers with wellness programs, more than 50% have decreased absenteeism, 66% reported increased productivity, and 67% reported higher employee satisfaction.

How can businesses overcome these challenges and create effective workplace wellness programs? Leaders need to implement proactive initiatives and customize them to meet the specific needs of employees. Utilizing innovative solutions to overcome resource constraints and continuously evaluating the program’s effectiveness are proven strategies. Additionally, leaders should prioritize long-term incentives, establish an inclusive environment for mental health discussions, and offer educational materials and workshops to promote healthy lifestyle choices and habits.

Without ongoing assessment and feedback, organizations risk investing resources in programs that don’t address employees’ health needs and concerns and, hence, fail to deliver desired outcomes.

In addition, leaders can also explore partnerships with reputable modern HMOs, such as Reliance HMO. These partnerships enable the provision of proactive and preventive care to promote a healthy lifestyle among employees. This may include regular health checks, access to gyms, and spa treatments, among other wellness initiatives.

Empowering Employee Wellness: Modern HMO Partnerships for Holistic Care

There is immense value for workplaces to partner with a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) on preventive care and wellness. A working synergy between organization leaders and reliable HMOs could facilitate easy access to telemedicine, health screenings, vaccinations, educational resources, wellness programs, and healthy lifestyle guides that empower employees and provide early intervention and disease prevention among employees.

Forward-thinking leaders recognize that placing a high premium on employee well-being and preventative healthcare leads to a more productive workforce. This focus perfectly aligns with Reliance HMO’s position as a leading provider of transformative healthcare solutions in Nigeria. We tailor our offerings to the evolving needs of modern workplaces, so members can focus on care, not costs, while ensuring they have the support they need to thrive.

Integrating emerging technology and data-driven decisions into proactive wellness programs, telemedicine services, and customer-centric healthcare, Reliance HMO is reimagining the failing traditional health insurance system across Nigeria to support organizations by ensuring dynamic employee well-being and a healthy lifestyle. Partnering with Reliance HMO provides expert guidance, innovative preventive strategies, and best practices to build a successful wellness program that keeps your workforce healthy and engaged. Reliance also encourages regular screenings and preventive health measures to ensure health goals are measured and achieved.

Preventive health programs provide unique opportunities for employees to take proactive measures to safeguard their health and well-being. At the same time, the organization also enjoys enhanced employee health, engagement, and productivity, which has far-reaching benefits for national health and economic prosperity.

Nigeria’s path to a healthier future lies in prevention. By moving beyond just treating illness, a focus on preventative healthcare programs can create a powerful force for good. This requires collaboration—individuals, organizations, healthcare providers, and public institutions all have a role to play.

The landscape of employee benefits is constantly evolving! Today’s workforce values comprehensive well-being packages that go beyond traditional health insurance. Preventive healthcare options are fast becoming a key distinction for attracting and retaining top talent. By offering programs that focus on keeping employees safer and healthier, your organization can create a more engaged and productive workforce.

AUTHOR

Dr. Ikechukwu Amaechina

Senior Claims Operations Executive at Reliance Health

Dr. Ikechukwu Amaechina is a medical doctor and data scientist with a track record of improving healthcare and health insurance operations. Over the past seven years, he’s transitioned from clinical practice to leading projects such as automating claim processing and expanding operations into new countries for Reliance Health in Nigeria and Egypt. His goal is to use technology to make healthcare more accessible and efficient worldwide.