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SX calculating cost to workplaces

Southern Cross’ HealthWorks unit is working on a project to quantify the financial benefit a large New Zealand company might get if its employees’ health risks were better managed.

Tuesday, September 3rd 2002, 6:39AM

Southern Cross’ HealthWorks unit is working on a project to quantify the financial benefit a large New Zealand company might get if its employees’ health risks were better managed.

Healthworks, which sells and manages group health schemes, is working on the project with Auckland University and several companies including NZ Post.

Employee ill health has a direct impact on a company’s profits through things like sick leave costs, says Southern Cross general manager of sales and distribution Christina Rogstad.

This impact has been measured overseas, where research suggests that for every $1 a company spends managing employees’ health risks it gets $3-13 back through things like lower absenteeism, higher productivity and better retention of staff.

"What we’ve been trying to do is quantify that for New Zealand. We think it will be about $3-5 here, though we’re just starting to get data back now."

When Southern Cross talks about managing health risks it means more than just providing subsidised health insurance or wellness programmes, such as smoking cessation, Rogstad says.

The first thing companies must do is profiling the health needs of their staff, so they know what the health risks and needs are, and can provide relevant wellness programmes.

Although the research is still being conducted, the project has already led to the development of management tools that have been adopted by some Southern Cross customers, she says.

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