Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Lost Productivity Due to Employee Pain

Study documents pain's impact on workers, employers

If we start to think about all the recent studies that talk about how much time people waste or lose due to extenuating circumstances, isn't it a miracle that anything gets done at all? It would be interesting to add up the time lost according to all of the various studies and see how much time is left over for actual work.

A recent article on SHRM's Online takes a look at recent findings that reveal that one in three employees suffer from pain, in turn costing an organization approximately three and two-thirds list workdays per employee per month.

The findings are based on a survey of 1,039 active employees that included factory and nonfactory workers at an unidentified Fortune 100 company in the northeastern United States. It examined the “burden of pain on employee health and productivity,” according to researchers Harris Allen, Dr. David Hubbard and Sean Sullivan.

What can employers do to effectively run a business while offering assistance to their pain-adled employees?

In the paper, researchers advise the company to consider “nurturing a better quality of life for many of [the] employees while at the same time promoting a more productive workforce.” In other words, the company could be more realistic in its expectations of employees, Allen acknowledged to HR News.

Steps that researchers say employers in general can take:

• Identify sources of productivity and health losses by performing a claims data analysis and enlisting a third party to survey employees, reporting only group-level or aggregate data to the employer.

• Look at what company-sponsored programs are available and take stock of what you are doing now. You may want to simply augment what is being done, Allen said.

• Discover what vendors are available, look at your budget and perform a return-on-investment analysis to decide what steps to take.

• Implement those steps. Perform another evaluation after a reasonable period of time to get a credible idea if the action taken made a difference and, if so, how much of a difference.

• Educate employees about treatments available.

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