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Healthy Employees: Your Competitive Advantage

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Have you ever watched the TV show Survivor? Whenever I watched it, there always seemed to be one team that was stronger and won more challenges. In doing so, they won more rewards, which allowed them to eat better, sleep better or even indulge in a little pampering. Now, it’s no surprise that one team tends to dominate the challenges. Since they are better fed, they have more energy and are able to think better. They are able to get the tools to build better shelters and then sleep better, which again contributes to their energy level and brain function. This dominant team clearly has a competitive advantage.

Now, let’s apply this example to the corporate world. Would you say that a company that has healthier employees has a competitive advantage? Most certainly! The way employees function at work is similar to what you see in the Survivor challenges. Employees who eat well, sleep well and take time to take care of themselves will perform better. And companies that create an environment that fosters a proactive, healthy lifestyle will reap the rewards.

What does a healthy workforce mean:

- lower absenteeism = lower cost for sick days, fewer delays in projects

- lower workplace injuries = lower WSIB costs & disability claims

- lower employee turnover = lower training costs, less stress on other team members

- lower long-term disability claims = lower WSIB and disability costs

- less stress = more productivity, fewer employee health issues

Still not convinced? In a recent Toronto Star article that talked about the contributing factors to General Motor’s (GM’s) demise, it referred to a statement that GM’s former chairman, Rick Wagoner, made in 2006 to U.S. Congress about the state of the company. He told Congress that in 2005 alone, GM spent $5.3 billion on health care - more than they spent that year in steel. In other statements, Mr. Wagoner also commented that GM’s health care expense was one of their biggest competitive disadvantages, amounting to a $1,500 handicap on every vehicle produced.

While there were multiple factors that have contributed to GM’s current situation, perhaps they would be in a better position right now if they had could have seen the correlation between employee health and corporate health.

Source: The Toronto Star, “The road from icon to bankrupt” by Dan Neil. June 6, 2009.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.