Some companies fail to deliver on staff health check-ups, study says

Some companies fail to deliver on staff health check-ups, study says

New Delhi: Companies in India are not big on offering annual health check-ups to employees, despite most mentioning preventive health care as an area of focus in their corporate governance strategies.

This is the finding of a study of 81 companies in India conducted by economic think tank International Council for Research on International Economic Relations (Icrier).

“Even though the corporate sector has been quick to realize the benefits of preventive health care, policy has lagged behind and we do not yet have fiscal or other incentives that encourage prevention," said Ali Mehdi, one of the authors of a research paper based on the study. The study looked at the impact of preventive health care on industry and economy, and included electronic and field surveys of 81 firms including Coca-Cola India Ltd, Infosys Technologies Ltd and Kirloskar Brothers Ltd.

The study said that the competitiveness of a company is dependent on the output,and thus health, of its employees. So, it added, employers should take greater steps to ensure that their workforce takes preventive health care seriously and facilitate access to quality health check-ups and lifestyle counselling.

The study found that profits of companies decreased as the number of man-days lost due to sickness increased. It also found a positive correlation between the profits of a company and its use of preventive health care. Another finding was that almost one fourth of the 81 firms lose approximately 14% of annual working days due to sickness, ranging from diarrhoea to heart diseases.

Ramesh Tyagi, epidemiologist at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, said: “Given the rise of the corporate sector and their contribution to Indian economy, it’s time companies invest more on the health of its employees. We have to change the typical mindset of going to a doctor only when you are sick."

The study also included interviews with 288 employees, most of them from companies that did not participate in the exercise. Over 90% of these employees who had undergone preventive health check-ups said it improved their quality of life and performance at work. And 91% wanted their employers to offer health vouchers for check-ups.