Larry Bulmer, ADVO Group’s Chief Executive, is featured in the August edition of Health Insurance & Protection’s ‘Boardroom Briefing’. The Briefing saw some of leading figures within the industry gather to discuss some of the key current issues such as absence and productivity as well as the practicalities to making improvements to the health of a workforce.
David Sawers, Editor of the Boardroom Briefing explained the significance of health linked to productivity within the workplace “While supposedly minor health behaviours – being slightly overweight, drinking a little bit too much, slightly high blood pressure, not getting enough sleep – might not result in someone being absent from work in the short-term, the impact on their productivity in the workplace can be significant. Not only that, but if left unchecked, many ‘minor’ health behaviours and conditions can develop into far more serious conditions, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and stroke. These are all issues that will impact employers increasingly in future years as the working age population becomes older.” David Sawers also went on to explain that the attitudes of employers is changing from being reluctant and hesitant to fully engage with workplace health initiatives to now now starting to embrace them to a far greater degree.
Larry Bulmer commented on the issues at hand by saying that the size of the company in question, in addition to the sector in which it operates in, will have a significant bearing on the employer’s attitudes to the health and productivity of the employees. He said that “It can be very industry-specific as well. In some industries it’s much, much more ‘doable’ than other industries”.
The Boardroom Briefing also addressed which employees should have the most time and attention focused on them in terms of encouraging them to making improvements to the healthiness of their lifestyles. Larry Bulmer said that “It’s actually the bulk in the middle which is where we should be focusing our efforts. I tend to see a lot of companies, particularly in occupational health, focus on the person who is repetitively ill, the person who is causing problems because they are always off. Actually that’s a very minor part of the workforce… The amount of effort and energy and resources you put into these one or two people means you are missing just a tiny shift in the bulk of the population that’s going to give you a much better increase in productivity”. Larry Bulmer went on to say that whilst dealing with employee absence is still an important consideration for businesses, focusing the attention of the business in question to encouraging employees to make improvements to the healthiness of the lifestyle, even on a relatively small scale, can lead to a significant positive effect on the productivity of the business. On this issu, he said “There has been a focus from occupational health on getting people back to work. Maybe the focus needs to be on presenteeism and managing those people more effectively. If you get the ‘bulk of the herd’ to be just a little bit fitter you are going to increase productivity more dramatically than if you just get one or two people”.