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Workplace health management: the future of business?

Workplace health management is the number one topic of conversation in offices and administrations. But why is this complex topic so relevant in the future but also in the present working world? The author David Schahinian answered this as follows: “The company can achieve an image gain that radiates both internally and externally. Moreover, in today’s competition for qualified applicants, it is almost mandatory to offer measures for workplace health promotion.” (Schahinian 2018, p. 32 translated by F. Aßmann). Schahinian describes the necessity for companies and administrations to introduce a functioning company health management system.

In the following lines I would like to explain the occupational health management and give an outlook on how important it is for companies nowadays.

What is occupational health management? “Company Health Management (BGM) is the systematic and structured development, planning and control of company structures and processes with the aim of maintaining and promoting the health of employees. (cf. Unfallkasse Baden-Würtenberg, 2019). This definition is provided by Unfallkasse Baden-Würtenberg for the question “What is occupational health management (BGM)”. Workplace health management can also be divided into two strategies.

  • Relationship prevention
  • Behavioural prevention

Relationship prevention includes measures to improve the working environment. Here, for example, ergonomic chairs are introduced to promote back health. These are intended to have a preventive effect and help employees to prevent back pain or similar problems. However, these measures are usually associated with financial expenditure and therefore not the first choice for employers, but they have a faster effect and the employee has no expenditure.

Behavioural prevention serves to break through the existing health-damaging behaviour patterns of the employees and thus to improve them in a health-promoting way. For example, various training courses show that heavy weights should not be lifted out of the back but through the thighs. This simple method protects the spine and makes weight management easier. However, the difficulty lies in the fact that it is very difficult to break through and change a person’s habits. The human being falls back very quickly into old behaviour patterns without thinking of a better or gentler variant. Behavioural prevention is a process that only works through discipline and participation of the affected person, because without own´s support, the whole effort is free. Thus, it can be said that the behaviour prevention is the more favourable (employer), but more difficult (employee) variant.

For this reason, a good mix should be found between relationship prevention and behavioural prevention. In principle, it is not a question of sticking to behavioural prevention, but of getting involved in relationship prevention. (cf. www.ukwb.de (ed.), [ca. 2019])

It can therefore be said that workplace health promotion includes one-off application measures. The difference to health management, however, is that management is based on sustainability. Workplace health promotion is only a one-off application such as a nutrition course or further training. This measure often takes place individually and does not insist on repetition. Thus, it cannot be guaranteed that employees will apply what they have learnt at home or at work over a longer period of time. Sustainability is therefore not given. In order to improve the health of the company in the long term, a company health management system adapted to the company should be introduced, because healthy and committed employees are an important prerequisite for high productivity and good competitiveness. (cf. Bebiak, 2019)

In summary, it can be said that workplace health management is more important than workplace health promotion, even if it is usually associated with significantly higher expenditure. “Healthy employees cost money, sick employees cost a fortune.” (Bebiak, 2019 translated by F. Aßmann)

Occupational health management is currently the best instrument for recruiting and retaining employees. In the modern working world, there is no way for employers to avoid this issue. In my opinion, it is extremely important to train and draw the attention of managers to this topic. Without a functioning one, it will not be possible for companies to bind their employees on a long-term basis and especially to maintain a high level of satisfaction. In a direct comparison of two companies, the factor higher wage (if it shows 200-300€ difference) is usually not decisive for employees. The focus is increasingly on social benefits. For example, the financing of the fitness studio or similar. Employers beware, claims are changing! Follow the development of company health management or you won’t have a chance on the modern job market!

Sources:

Bebiak, Jozef MUDr.: Betriebliches Gesundheitsmanagement: Präsentation 27.03.2019, Klingenberg, Folie 11-15.

Unfallkasse Baden-Würtenberg (Hrsg.): Was ist Betriebliches Gesundheitsmanagement (BGM)?, Stuttgart: Unfallkasse Baden-Würtenberg, letzte Aktualisierung: [ca. 2019], URL: https://www.ukbw.de/sicherheit-gesundheit/aktuelles/fachthemen/gesundheit-im-betrieb/was-ist-betriebliches-gesundheitsmanagement-bgm/, abgerufen am 11.04.2019.