Actor and director, Woody Allen, once said that 80 percent of success in life can be attributed to simply showing up. When it comes to statistics relating to workplace findings on productivity, this opinion may be challenged.
According to Morneau Shepell's new research findings released as part of a national study, more than half of Canadian employees see presenteeism as a serious issue at work. The survey, centered on employees, employers and physicians across Canada, found that 81 percent indicated that they had gone into work while they were not able to perform as well as they would have liked and 47 percent said that physical sickness played a role. The survey report showed that 52 percent of employers felt that absenteeism was a greater problem than presenteeism while 53 percent of employees carried the view that presenteeism was more serious an issue.
Presenteeism has been defined as a state of compromised ability to perform in one's job role. It is the problem of a worker being on the job, but because of illness or a medical condition, is not fully functioning. According to Debra Lerner, a scientist at the Tufts Medical Center Institute for Clinical Research and Health Policy Studies, it is a workplace phenomenon that accounts for a 2 to 3 percent loss in worker productivity across all industries.
This issue can be addressed and attention needs to be paid to it. Some reports suggest that it is a costlier problem than absenteeism because it isn't always apparent. It is more noticeable if someone doesn't show up at work, but when someone is there, but just isn't performing, it is a harder nut to crack as outwardly, they may look fine. There is a belief that presenteeism isn't about employees goofing off, but rather those who come to work sick and try to soldier through it despite how poorly they feel. Spikes in presenteeism occur when the economy takes a downturn and employees are more fearful about job security.
Presenteeism is a newer area of study and identifying what triggers productivity issues from an illness perspective is actively being researched. The area of focus relates to issues that are more benign in nature with so called episodic aliments such as seasonal allergies, asthma, migraines, headaches, back pain and certain forms of depression.
Many of these illnesses and others that are more chronic in nature remain fully undiagnosed and account for increased productivity losses during an employee's peak employment years. Beyond the productivity costs, claims for medical care and prescription drugs are also negatively affected.
Both presenteeism and absenteeism are serious threats to workplace productivity with a multi-billion-dollar impact on the Canadian economy. There are many situations where employers are so busy focusing on other areas of their business that they don't give enough attention to the extent of the problem. We have experience to help integrate absence management strategies that drive awareness in strategically beneficial ways. I invite you to contact us. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Have you gone to work and felt so tired that you found it difficult to stay awake at your desk or in meetings? Perhaps you called in sick or needed large quantities of caffeine to help you make it through what soon became an extra long day of fighting your fatigue. If this scenario has happened to you, rest assured, you're not alone. In a recent study by Sleep-Centre.ca and IPG Mediabrands, roughly 3.9 million Canadians or 26 percent of our nation's workforce have called in sick to catch up on sleep.
Based on this new study's findings, sleep deprivation costs employers close to three-quarters of a billion dollars in lost work hours. The study reported that 62% of Canadians suffer from a sleep problem and 20 percent have this issue on a frequent basis.
The study surveyed over 3,000 respondents and Kitchener-Waterloo topped the list at 76 percent of respondents reporting how often they suffer from sleeplessness. Ottawa-Gatineau landed at 56 percent and Toronto at 47 percent. Cities with a higher percentage of kids living at home reported greater frequently of sleeplessness.
Pain, uncomfortable room temperature, and work stress were listed as the top three reasons. They were were followed by illness, partner's snoring, too much caffeine and indigestion. One in six respondents admitted to falling asleep at their desk or during meetings or conferences.
When employees call in sick because of sleeplessness or show up but are not productive, it costs the company in significant and tangible ways. Employers who look to promote their Employee Assistance Program, and help employees understand the signs of stress and anxiety can make a difference in terms of reducing a major cause of sleeplessness.
Employers will also benefit from helping employees find ways avoid sleep issues by promoting their awareness of the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise three times a week for at least 30 minutes. Allowing for flexible work arrangements may limit the number of employees calling in sick or sleeping on the job. Providing employees with tips for sleep and foods to eat and avoid around bedtime are beneficial as many people have no idea that certain foods can trigger sleeplessness.
These are just a few examples of tips to consider on this topic. Please contact us for more resources on trigger points that affect workplace productivity and put pressure on a group benefits plan. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Every year I post a blog with high level findings about the Sanofi Canada Healthcare Survey results. This report is one of Canada's premier surveys on health benefit plans and reflects the opinions of 1500 primary holders of group health benefit plans. The data was statistically weighted to ensure age, gender and regional composition reflect those of the adult population according to recent Census data. (If you are looking for more detail about the survey itself, I've included a link to the full report on my Resources page.)
This year's survey reveals that respondents are diving deeper into what they are looking for in terms of data and return on investment (ROI) statistics for health and wellness programs (72 percent). They also want a greater understanding of the ways their benefit plan affects health outcomes and productivity (76 percent). They are also looking for more information about paramedical services and how plan design triggers utilization.
I'm encouraged to see these results because it shows that plan sponsors are looking for more information in the areas where trusted advisors are well positioned to help them. We want to assist plan sponsors make the links between health benefits, wellness and chronic disease management along with the correlation to benefit plan design.
In the past, I've written a fair bit about the affects of benefit plan design, communication best practices, and employee engagement. My team knows that these three areas contribute to prevention awareness and help employees make more informed choices about their state of health and well-being. We also recognize that when workers are healthy and content, they are going to show up at work in ways that lead to greater focus, energy, and productivity on the job.
This year's survey also highlighted an important concern relating to the link between benefit plans and the prevalence of chronic disease. When asked the question, plan sponsors estimated that only 26 percent of their workforce had a chronic disease whereas 56 percent of plan members reported living with a condition that fell into the chronic disease category. Perhaps it remains that plan sponsors don't feel that they are able to move the needle enough to positively affecting health outcomes for their workforce.
Working with a trusted advisor can help these plan sponsors move out of this mindset and enable greater health and productivity through the implementation of a more strategic approach that isn't seen in the traditional light.
Having a group benefits plan is more than the cost of doing business in order to remain competitive. It is an important way of offering preventative resources and support for employees to manage their state of health. Understanding claims utilization patterns such as paramedical services can prove beneficial. The survey reported that 47 percent of plan members submitted a total of 7.3 paramedical claims on average. This statistic falls close behind prescription medications at 9.5 claims on average. When it comes to paramedical services covered under the plan, the survey also suggests that there might be value in considering the need for eligibility based on clinical criteria versus self-perceived needs of the plan member.
The more we are able to collaborate with insurance providers to appropriately mine the plan data, the greater our ability to help the plan sponsor develop a benefits strategy that will meet their needs 3 to 5 years out, thereby increasing their confidence about the plan's value.
We believe that this collaboration is essential to our success and we have an impressive track record of working with the various insurance providers. We know that there is more work to be done to develop greater support for employee health and wellness and we're ready to roll up our sleeves and begin this strategic journey. Please contact us to begin a conversation. We're here to help so that you can focus on what you do best.
Dave Dickinson, B.Comm, CFP, CLU, CHFC
Experienced Benefits Specialist ready to optimize your group benefits and pension plans.