How to get the most from an occupational health provider
We all want to get good value for our money.
Investing in occupational health services is no different in this regard – there is a specific service that is required, yet how useful is it if we aren’t utilising it to its full potential?
Maintaining business performance, whether by helping long-term absentees return to work or creating a healthier working environment, is central to occupational health.
Across the UK, many businesses choose only to engage with occupational health when a serious issue arises, rather than having a strong relationship with a provider to begin with.
This means that a reactive approach is unavoidable, as occupational health is only utilised after an issue has arisen.
It’s far less tedious (and costly) to have occupational health on-hand for potential issues than it is to navigate the complexity that occurs when seeking their advice after a significant issue has come to your attention.
Much like an MOT acts as a proactive way to check the health of your car, occupational health is a proactive way to sense check the health of the workforce.
There isn’t a cut and dry way to determine exactly what value occupational health services can provide for your business as it covers so many facets across direct and indirect costs… but the question must be, can you really put a price on health?
Expectations and communication are essential
You cannot hope to use anything to its full potential without communicating your expectations first.
After all, even though it would prove extremely useful, providers don’t have a crystal ball and therefore can’t be aware of expectations without having them communicated clearly (e.g., what adjustments are available).
For example, if a provider suggests an employee return to work after a long-term absence with appropriate adjustments/activity restrictions, this may clash with an employer’s preference to have the employee back only when they are ready for full duty, this can cause frustrations later down the line with both the organisation and the employee.
Communicating with your provider about your expectations avoids the common pitfall of not having your expectations met by virtue of the fact you haven’t communicated them.
This also applies during the process, as issues can’t be conveyed to a provider unless they are communicated by the employer!
Consider what you want to achieve
In the case of referrals, further information around how the workplace may aggravate the employee’s condition may be a key concern, with the objective to ensure the workplace is adjusted, where possible, to prevent the issue arising with other employees as well as ensuring you support this employee at work.
You have to ask yourself, what outcomes are you looking to achieve?
This also applies to finding the best practitioner. Rather than double-handling, going directly to the practitioner that suits your requirements will be far more effective.
The benefit to occupational health is that it is often long-term, and advice and insights can be utilised for other matters of employee health.
If you’re looking for an employee to be safer and healthier in their role, then the recommendations that an occupational health provider may detail in a report should be taken on board, which could include:
– A phased return to work
– A workplace assessment
– Reasonable adjustments such as an ergonomic chair or padded standing mat
These recommendations don’t have to be left as a tick boxing exercise.
An employer can seek further advice around a provider’s recommendations or the ways in which they can interact with their services.
This way an employer can maximise the service they are receiving to the benefit of the wider team as a result of addressing the health of the individual.
Find the provider to suit your needs
None of the above will count for much if you end up finding a provider that doesn’t meet your needs.
You might not even be aware of what your business requires but there are a few places you can start.
– Word of mouth referrals: usually a first step for many employers seeking a provider, asking other employers for recommendations can be an easy method that might provide a higher sense of reliability and trust.
– Search by service: from health surveillance to management referral, having a particular service in mind considerably narrows down your search.
– Search by practitioner: e.g., nurse or doctor
If you’d rather avoid the tedious task of trawling through Google search results, particularly if you’re unsure where to start in your search, use our handy ‘Find a Provider’ search tool.
You can narrow down by service or practitioner type, or even select an option if you’re uncertain of what you need to get further advice.
Best of all, you’ll also be able to see what other users of the platform have said about them.
In a nutshell
Knowing that you need occupational health services is just the first step.
With so many different providers out there, it can seem intimidating trying to figure out how to interact with providers, yet they are there to add value to your business.
The key to getting the most from an occupational health provider is to find the provider that suits your (and your employees) needs, clearly communicate your expectations, and keep in mind what you want to achieve in the long-term.
Employee health is integral to the way a business can function, which is why getting the most out of occupational health can go a long way in reducing absences and increasing productivity!