Although it is well known by now that corporate health management (CHM) is an excellent way to increase employee satisfaction and attractiveness as an employer, a YouGov survey from 2021 came to a shocking conclusion. While mental stress increased during the pandemic, 45 percent of the employees surveyed stated that their company did not provide any support for their mental health.
The hybrid world of work requires that the topic of corporate health management be rethought. But first I would like to expand a little: What exactly is corporate health management? What approaches need to be pursued, what concrete measures need to be introduced? And above all: what adjustments must be made?
What is CHM?
CHM is the sum of all the measures you take as an entrepreneur to improve the physical and mental well-being of your employees. If you take a closer look, you will quickly realise that this project brings benefits to both sides. Of course, the burden of investment is initially on the company, but both sides quickly reap the benefits. To take one example in advance: In the long term, better health reduces the number of stressful visits to the doctor with the risk of infection in the waiting room for employees; for employers it means a reduction in costs due to less sickness and thus less production downtime. To achieve this goal, however, there is neither the one measure that is proverbially half the battle, nor is there the starter set of measures with which "the most important thing is done for now" and after whose application one no longer has to deal with it. Rather, it is an ongoing process that must be continually adapted and optimised to the needs of your employees. But more on that later.
First of all, however, one has to put BGM in the right context in order to become aware of its importance. On the one hand, there is already a situation on the labour market that demands the right handling of human and social capital more than ever before. On the other hand, the increase in the retirement age and demographic change predict that society and thus also the workforce of every company will age on average. Here, corporate health management can have a suspensory effect by maintaining performance in the last quarter of working life and at the same time increasing the quality of life in well-deserved retirement through better health at retirement.
Now, however, I would like to recommend some concrete measures to set the course now towards this long-term goal.
Which measures can you use to achieve added value?
As already mentioned, the following measures are not universal or all-encompassing, they are rather meant to serve as initial inspiration.
A classic in BGM is healthy canteen food. Instead of pork roast with chips, for example, an Asian vegetable pan or a vitamin-rich salad bowl can be served. In order to be able to offer a varied and healthy mix, both in terms of nutrients and taste, it is advisable to bring the kitchen staff together with a nutritionist in a workshop to work out a concept together. In the long term, this can prevent obesity or high blood pressure and cholesterol levels. By the way, such workshops can also have a positive effect in smaller companies without a canteen - in this case with the staff.
Another important topic is ergonomics at the workplace. From good office chairs to height-adjustable desks, subsidies for gym membership to physiotherapeutic care, the range of possible starting points is broad. It is advisable not to just buy what you need, but to consult with experts and draw up an overall concept. This can include, for example, not only buying good chairs, but also having them adjusted to suit the people sitting on them. In addition, well-lit and temperature-controlled workspaces should create ideal basic conditions. By the way, investments in health promotion are tax deductible, you can read more about this here.
Last but not least, mental health also plays an important role and should not be left out of corporate health management. Therefore, it is elementary to ensure a pleasant working atmosphere with good communication structures and stress management. The first step in this process lies with the managers. Only what they exemplify on a personal level can be structurally consolidated on a company level. But professional support from outside can also be helpful in this matter. This can either be used on a regular basis for training courses etc. or, if necessary, brought in for personal support or mediation.
Basically, three principles always apply in the application of all BGM measures: Participation, integration and holism. Participation means that every employee can (and should) take part in corporate health management measures. In addition, they should be well integrated into the daily work routine without representing an additional effort for the employees. In addition, all measures should always be interlinked and, ideally, create a synergy effect. It has been proven, for example, that people who eat healthier and do more sport are also happier and more productive. So keep these principles in mind when evaluating possible corporate health management initiatives.
But what to do when employees work in a home office?
Even though in some offices working days in presence are on the rise again compared to Corona highs, it is impossible that the world of work will ever return to its pre-Corona status. The question that logically follows: How can we adapt corporate health management concepts in such a way that they also have a similarly high benefit for employees in the home office? Some measures can be implemented in a similar way. If, for example, it is foreseeable that an employee will work from the home office in the long term, the establishment of an ergonomic workplace at home should definitely be supported. Healthy eating can also be brought into the home office comparatively well. Workshops can be held online, a canteen menu can be replaced by daily recipe suggestions including shopping lists.
A more complicated issue is rather ensuring mental well-being. There is not only the challenge of digitising existing services. In addition, the new working model creates new challenges that threaten mental health. These need to be identified and compensated for or eliminated at a distance. Keeping the standard of communication and stress management high in remote work is a task that can only be mastered through preventive measures. Especially in the initial phase, closely timed feedback loops are recommended in order to find "tailor-made" solutions, but also to create a feeling of participation despite the home office and not to risk too much social distancing.
Online sports and mindfulness courses that take place live and can be recorded offer your employees the opportunity to promote their physical and mental health regardless of location and time. If your company has a company doctor or a company psychologist, they should be equipped with the necessary infrastructure to be available at any time from their desk at home.
All in all, it can be said: CHM is an investment that pays off not only because of its return, but also because the opportunity costs will catch up with you sooner or later. You are therefore well advised to put your existing concept through its paces and make it fit for the hybrid working world. Don't be afraid to invest money and get professional support - it's worth it!