How many creative ideas strike you when you are asked to think of ways to spend 3 hours of your day productively ? How many of them are feasible if this time is spent travelling everyday. Are any of your ideas remotely related to improving your health ? The chances are low.
This was my excuse to put my health off which eventually cost me a hefty price and so did it to the company I work at. We'd geared up for a networking event that any start-up would scrape rubber to be a part of. We were to launch a product targeted to business tycoons across the country and we'd made all preparations to pitch the perfect product in the most presentable kit before I fell face first on the cold, hard floor (not literally).
Just a day before we were to leave to the conference, which was organised in a different city I was diagnosed with fever and Follicular Tonsillitis. My body was so poorly equipped to handle this that I had to take my medicine on IV under clinical observation.
Not only did my dream to be a part of the event shatter into pieces, but my company lost one of their key business representatives and the non-refundable portion of my travel and accommodation expense.
It may seem unnecessarily laborious for companies to have a paid medical test before recruiting someone or to visualize the harm in asking an employee to put in some extra hours but this can go a long way in decreasing attrition rate and increasing employee satisfaction.
I'm lucky to be a part of a company that is ready to negotiate my work-shift and be sensitive towards additional efforts I put in for a project and give a few hours off when there is less work.
What are some key takeaways for employers about employee health?
1) Get a medical test before saying yes to a potential employee: It seems unfair at first glance but by putting this test before you give someone a green chit, you are ensuring you aren't pushing unreasonable responsibility on a weak person.
2) Understand drug abusive traits: Some companies mention a note or two in their policy that employees on drugs/alcohol may be subject to HR action. It's rarely followed in practice. It's important to observe your employees work trends, productivity and participation to understand if there are drug abusive traits that they may be concealing.
3) Be sensitive to their needs: A balanced work-life environment is vital in retaining employees and to ensure your employees' faith in the company. Also have an approachable HR Team to address the grievances of employees are facing difficulties because of health constraints to meet targets.
4) Lead by example : Take good care of your own health! If you are employing a task force then you have to earn their respect, you could let them know that health is pivotal in the definition of success. Nothing has an impact as strong as inspiration.
5) Active Counseling : Help employees who have lost health regain their original productivity through positive reinforcement. A sensitive & optimistic approach towards previous victims of drug abuse or negligence could probably help you mould an achiever.
6) Learn when to Let Go: If your company is sensitive and approachable towards the issue of drugs, understand when to let go. If active counseling is not helping your employee come out of this state or when the employee has made several failed attempts towards getting out of this viscous circle you have to salvage what you can and protect. i.e. Other employees who are bearing the brunt of one employee's irregularity and ill-health.
If the above write-up is to be summed up I could say; Stay connected to your employees, be sensitive and use positive re-enforcement. When honest efforts, repeated chances and optimism don't help retain the company's faith in an employee you'll have to adhere to the rules of a well drafted policy that helps you let go of the employee. If he/she can affect the confidence of employees, who fill in for those who aren't able to do so, then there's more to loose than gain by retaining them.
The word of caution is to re-act slowly. An poorly calculated move could cost you a good employee.