As the manufacturing industry is expanding faster than it has in decades, it's never been more important to optimize employee productivity -- especially in the face of a skilled labor shortage. The fact is, manufacturing jobs are often physically demanding, emotionally stressful, and require long, unpredictable hours. The effects can have a huge impact on employee health and, in turn, overall job performance.
Did you know that noise exposure from manufacturing facilities can affect much more than hearing loss? As I highlighted in my last column, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), employees exposed to loud noise at work are more likely than others to have high blood pressure and high cholesterol. The CDC also reported that manufacturing has higher rates of hypertension than other industries.
What's more, the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine has found that smoking -- a leading contributor to high blood pressure and many other health conditions -- is more prevalent among manufacturing employees (23.3 percent of the workforce) than those in other employment sectors by about 10 percentage points. Over time, health care costs for employers can really add up:
While employee health is crucial to maintaining productivity -- and ultimately your company's bottom line -- many conditions related to heart disease can actually be prevented with healthy lifestyle choices.
Since 1962, the American Heart Association has dedicated this month to educating the public on the importance of taking care of our hearts year-round. But even today, while 83 percent of the population believes heart attacks can be prevented, they still aren't motivated to make heart health a priority. Some preventative measures you can encourage your employees to take to reduce the chances of heart disease include:
In addition to promoting these healthy lifestyle habits, the quality of care you deliver through your company health plan can also greatly affect the health of your employees.
Many health care plans are fragmented, meaning providers are unable to exchange patient information -- either because their electronic health care systems are not connected or they're otherwise incompatible. This can lead to gaps in care coordination, causing patients not to receive proper treatment. For those with chronic health conditions, this can be particularly disruptive to their care.
In a coordinated health care model, cardiologists, physicians, nurses, specialists, and pharmacists are linked together through a single electronic health record (EHR). Working as a team, they can immediately access vital, up-to-date medical information in real time, communicate with colleagues, and quickly implement treatments.
The EHR is also invaluable for detecting and treating chronic illnesses early. For instance, it automatically triggers reminders for various screenings. And if members have a condition, such as high blood pressure or heart disease, they are automatically enrolled in a chronic-care program that can be coordinated among different providers simultaneously.
Rather than simply being a cost of running a company, a quality health plan is actually an investment in the well-being of your employees and, ultimately, your business -- which is so vital, considering the imminent labor shortage in the manufacturing industry. By choosing the right plan, you can help improve employee health, increase productivity, boost company morale, and potentially manage health plan costs, so your business can prosper.