What is the main idea of corporate health improvement programs? What is presenteeism and why is it dangerous for companies? Addictologist, CEO of Corporate Health LLC Alexander Shtulman spoke about these issues in the interview for w2 conference Moscow.
Alexander is a physician with huge experience of work with addictions, specializing in mental health issues. The expert is a member of the Employee Assistance Professionals Association (EAPA). He has been a managing partner of Corporate Health LLC for 12 years.
Read more about health improvement programs for employees, as well as what factors have an impact on work efficiency, in our interview.
Interviewer: w2 conference Moscow (W2CM)
Respondent: Alexander Shtulman (A. S.)
W2CM: Tell us about the activity of Corporate Health LLC. What are the peculiarities of wellness and wellbeing programs that the company provides?
A. S.: Corporate Health LLC helps to implement programs designed especially for the use at workplaces. They are intended to improve employee health, increase productivity and labor safety. Numerous researches have confirmed the positive impact of our programs.
Currently, an employee assistance program (EAP) is the main resource to solve a wide range of problems that disturb the mental health of employees and lead to business losses.
W2CM: How does mental health influence the productivity of employees?
A. S.: Mental health is a state of wellbeing when a person can fulfill his work functions and personal aims fully-fledged. This is not only about the absence of mental diseases. The most usual life events can lead to wellbeing disorders, which, in turn, negatively influences personal life and the ability to perform work tasks.
According to the data of the WHO, up to 27% of employees face situations that have a negative impact on the work processes at least once a year in Europe. This makes the basis of such phenomena as absenteeism and presenteeism. Presenteeism (the inability to concentrate on work) leads to even greater losses and contributes to the violation of security. Besides, mental health problems involve issues caused by the excessive consumption of alcohol and drugs. EAPs can also solve them.
The Health Minister of the Russian Federation reports that up to 70% of male deaths can be connected to problem drinking in the country. Russia does not have data about the impact of this phenomenon on business, while developed countries consider that it brings the biggest damage, as well as influences society and private life.
W2CM: What factors may influence the mental health of employees?
A. S.: Many factors can disturb mental health and lead to unintended consequences. It is impossible to list all of them. We divide them into several categories: personal relations (with a partner, husband/wife), family circumstances, difficulties at work, and emotional problems (anxiety and depression).
Besides, EAP distinguishes two more categories: financial and legal issues. They may not lead to mental health disorders but require time to search for relevant help and distract employees from work.
WCM: What should employers do to improve the mental health of team members?
A. S.: I think that employers do not have to take care of the mental health of employees. They are obliged to do it, as the losses connected with such disorders are difficult to reduce without the relevant interference. The approach that takes into account business interests gives the possibility to have a positive impact on all sides of the life of employees and their direct relatives.
W2CM: How do absenteeism and presenteeism of employees influence business efficiency?
A. S.: It is clear that both things bring losses to businesses, as employees do not do their work in both cases. Absenteeism can be seen. Besides, it involves situations when people are absent at work due to sick leave. Unfortunately, we do not always know whether a person is ill indeed. Presenteeism is a phenomenon that is more difficult to assess. The employee is present physically but does anything except work. It involves concealed losses. People do not want their colleagues to know about their problems, so they do not discuss them.
The research, carried out by the insurer in the UK in 2018, showed that 42% of sick notes were connected not with physical illnesses but with the situations that required free time to solve them. Reports on the use of EAP services allow employers to form a view of what problems employees have, how they influence work efficiency, and how seeking medical advice changes the situation.
W2CM: Do companies need to fight against absenteeism and presenteeism?
A. S.: Countermeasures and control are ineffective tools. We offer another approach. It requires acknowledging that human problems stand behind work failures and the necessity to provide support in their solution. The source of support has to maintain strict confidentiality for employees to be able to address it.
The employer does not need to know about the problems of employees, but he has to obtain data about the use of services, results of support, as well as its influence on work efficiency and security. The global research of EAP results shows how the program influences ROI.
W2CM: What measures should be taken first in order to incentivize employees for more productive work?
A. S.: Equitable management, remuneration, and a supporting resource intended to help solve everyday problems. Those are the most important things, and then all possible perks and benefits go.
W2CM: What will you speak about at w2 conference Moscow?
A. S.: I am going to talk about corporate wellbeing programs that help to reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, as well as to maintain safe behavior.
Alexander will make a presentation at w2conference Moscow on March 28. Attendees will have the possibility to ask the speaker questions.