It pays to invest in the employees

Published 2008-06-13 00:00. Updated 2013-11-26 10:24

[Press Release 2008-06-13] Companies that show an interest in the health of their employees have much to gain. This according to the results of Health and Future  a crossover research project that has looked into what makes private companies with healthy employees so special.

The final results of the entire project are being presented today at a seminar, along with the results of the last of the four constituent studies.

"It´s very much about the company being aware of the factors affecting health at work," says Magnus Svartengren, professor at Karolinska Institutet and senior physician at the Stockholm Centre for Public Health: Occupational and Environmental Health at the Stockholm County Council. "But what´s really important is how well the company manages to incorporate the work into its activities and how they handle it as an ongoing process."

The following conclusions can be drawn from the four constituent studies:

  • It pays to have healthy employees
  • Clear leadership and employee participation bring significant health gains
  • Incidents of sick leave are lower in companies that recruit their managers internally
  • Companies with rehabilitation procedures have healthier employees
  • Women working in male-dominated companies are healthier than women in companies with an even gender distribution

Health and Future is unique in that it studied the organisational factors that produce healthy employees. The study is based on cross-references of the sick-leave registers kept by AFA Insurance and Alecta (an insurance and a pensions provider respectively). To find out what makes companies healthy, the researchers combined qualitative methods with quantitative, and studied how the companies organise their preventative and rehabilitative activities.

The project was carried out by scientists at the Stockholm County Councils Centre for Public Health, Karolinska Institutet and Uppsala University, with financial support from AFA Försäkring, Alecta, Carl Bennet AB, Axel Johnsson AB and AB Volvo. An advisory board containing representatives of the Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, the Federation of Private Enterprises, the Swedish Trade Union Confederation, the Swedish Metalworkers Union, the Confederation of Professional Employees, Unionen, the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations and the Council for Negotiation and Co-operation also supported the project.

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