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Businesses should play a bigger role in employee health


Alain Thériault

27 February 2018 13:30

Robert Dumas | Photo : Réjean Meloche

President and chief executive officer of Sun Life Financial Quebec, Robert Dumas took advantage of his visit to the canadian club to urge enterprises to increase the prevention to their employees, both to the physical and mental health than financial.

Employees happy and healthy translates to a rate of turnover lower staff, said Mr. Dumas at the event, which gathered several hundred people. Having healthy employees is even more important for businesses in the region, where we have the resources to maintain the current activities going on before having those it takes to grow, he argues.

“In the 70s, the role of business was to make more profit for the shareholders. Today things have changed, “he started, adding that shareholders’ interests are aligned now to those of employees.

Healthy habits for life

The costs of health care are gaining momentum on all fronts, and reminded us of the importance of healthy habits of life, he demonstrated by statistical strength. While about 57 % of québec workers suffer from one or more chronic diseases, Mr. Dumas reiterated that their incidence could be reduced by 80 %, ” if we do a little more exercise, stop smoking and takes less alcohol “. Healthy lifestyle habits can help prevent 40 % of cancer cases, he added.

Mental health is also in bad company. “The third-party claims in collective insurance, the result of a mental health problem. It is a percentage that increases and that is already higher than that of claims for cancer. In addition, 44 % of disability due to mental health lasting more than 6 months “, reveals Mr. Dumas. While the costs of absenteeism fry the$ 16 billion per year, Robert Dumas has reported that according to experts, the presenteeism costs even more expensive.

The financial health invites among the spoilers, while 44 % of Canadians believe that money is their primary source of stress, “especially among younger people,” said Mr. Dumas. Three-quarters of Canadians have never calculated the savings required for retirement, and 40 % say that an increase of the interest rates they would create problems. “We have estimated that an employee will spend 13 % of their work time to resolve its financial problems,” revealed Mr. Dumas.

Prevention before cure

Companies need to play their fullest role, because the personal accountability toward healthy living is not enough, believes Robert Dumas. “All of these statistics tell us that the health problems have a significant impact on employees and businesses. It is necessary to move beyond the empowerment of individuals, to find collective solutions. Several surveys indicate that employees expect employers to assist them in regard to their health. Half of the employees would be willing to change jobs to improve the quality of life or health care. “

Group insurance programs current are not enough. “Group insurance programs have been proven, there are fewer absences, less psychological distress… but they address some of the current issues of the employees. They offer solutions to the problems that already exist. Of course, this is not enough. That is what we can do to have a greater impact ? Why not work upstream, before the impact of the disease, level of prevention “, he asked.

Tax prevention

He returned to the message launched by Pierre Lavoie (Grand défi Pierre Lavoie), present at the table of honor of the event, which suggests taking a portion of the employer contributions to the health services Fund (HSF), to implement corporate initiatives to move the employees, and act on the prevention of health of employees.

Mr. Dumas has shared examples of companies that have taken the turn, in which the pharmaceutical company McKesson Canada. With, among others, more flexibility, free medical check-ups, and a platform for employees to follow the evolution of their state as well as to organize challenges in health between them, the company has managed to improve the state of health of its employees.

High return on investment

Due to a high degree of commitment, which has reached up to 75 % in some departments, the program has achieved a return on investment that has widely surpassed the most optimistic scenario of the company. When she expected at best to a return of $ 3.80 for every dollar invested, rather it has harvested to 6.30 cents for each dollar invested.

Robert Dumas said, in conclusion, health should become a strategic choice ” that should be part of our business plans, our image and our employer brand “. “We really can make a difference for each individual, each employee “, he added.

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