One of the most notable areas of disparity between small businesses and large organisations is the level of access to an occupational health service.
Approximately 10% of employees of small firms have access to occupational health compared to an estimated 50% of staff working for large businesses.
When you consider the impact that sickness and absence can have on any company, especially a small business with only a handful of employees in comparative terms, it is easy to understand why the government is keen to see less inequality when it comes to accessing occupational health services.
Dealing with health problems
The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development carried out some research amongst its members and concluded that the longer people are away from their work due to sickness, the less likely they become to make a successful return to the workplace.
If someone is away from their work for a period of six months or more, their chances of making a successful return to full-time employment drop to a disappointing 50%, so it is clear to see that providing help and assistance with health problems is critical in getting people well and back to work as quickly as possible.
The role of occupational health
When an employer provides access to occupational health services through an organisation like health assured, they are not only providing an important and valuable benefit for their employees but their company will benefit from reduced absenteeism, reduced workflow disruption, a heightened level of engagement with their employees and the opportunity to see staff return to work much sooner than would be probably likely without such a scheme being in place.
Greater flow of information
There are many occasions where the involvement of a third-party occupational health services provider can help improve the flow of information and communication between an employer and employee.
An employer needs the permission of the person involved to commission an independent report but the benefits are that the employee is being offered support without feeling constrained in the same way that they might do when talking directly to their employer.
This will help all parties to find the root cause of the problems that are leading to absenteeism and develop a plan and a strategy to address these particular issues in a constructive and supportive manner.
Benefits on both sides
Giving staff access to occupational health services has benefits on both sides. The employer is benefitting from fact that positive action is being taken to help one of their members of staff get back to work as quickly as possible, while the employee feels like they are being supported and also benefits from access to help and services that can help them to get back to health and work as soon as possible.
When you see the positive role that occupational health services provides in the workplace, it is easy to see why the department of Work and Pensions is keen to see the inequality in numbers that exists between small and large companies, addressed as a matter of priority.
If you run a small business where each employee is a critical team member then it is also very easy to see how your business could benefit from providing access to occupational health services for your staff.
George McKenzie is a veteran in business. He enjoys writing about his insights into creating a productive and satisfying work environment for his employees.