Why employee wellbeing can no longer be ignored

It’s a disturbing trend: Kenyans seem to be getting less healthy with every passing year, thanks to the resurgence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

According to the Ministry of Health, non-communicable diseases are responsible for over 55 per cent of deaths and further account for more than 50 per cent of hospital admissions, annually.

Non-communicable diseases are increasingly affecting the working age population and this is becoming a concern for employers who risk losing productivity to sick leaves and health-related under performance more than ever before.

Many studies have shown that employees with lower levels of fitness and health miss more days of work than their healthier co-workers. Even worse, those less-physically-fit employees tend to produce less than their counterparts on the days when they are in the office. Workers who devote time to regular physical exercise are able to accomplish more in the same amount of time, and report feeling more productive in general.

And the cost of healthcare associated with employees’ health conditions is also taking a worrying trend.  While the medical insurance industry in Kenya recorded a growth of 0.65% in gross premiums in 2017, claims incurred over the same period increased by 12%.

Recent Kenindia Assurance’s internal analysis revealed that several hospitals had increased their costs, twice as high, in 2017 compared to 2016. This is likely to affect claims give that premiums are fixed at the beginning of the year while on the other hand hospitals increase their costs midway depending on their administrative and other market dynamics.

Given the rapidly rising costs, it’s understandable that businesses everywhere are seeking innovative ways to nudge employees toward healthier behaviors that will in turn have a positive impact on the company bottom line. It is the right thing to do.

Employers can play a key role through their medical plans and through the implementation of wellness and prevention programs.  More than ever, there is need to promote healthy behaviors and wellbeing in the workplace.  Kenindia Assurance has been on the forefront on conducting wellness programs biannually; having recommendable retirement or pension plan; provision of good healthcare packages. All the above are done to ensure satisfaction of the five essential elements of wellbeing which are purpose, social, financial, community and physical are met.

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