A healthy company - a vital success factor

Woman doing yoga in the home office

A healthy company - a vital success factor

When an employee in an SME becomes unavailable for whatever reason, it causes difficulties for everyone and it can have consequences for the entire company. This makes finding solutions together all the more important. The following is a typical example of such a case.
It’s a summer evening. Carpentry entrepreneur Walter and his employee Jürg are machining the final pieces of wood on the CNC machine. Jürg constantly touches his back while working on the circular saw. "There's something wrong," he confides to his friend and boss. While the men are loading the long wooden pieces onto the delivery truck, Jürg almost drops one of them. "Hey, watch out," Walter snaps. But then he notices his employee is sweating profusely and breathing heavily. "Can you make it to the car? I'll drive you to the hospital," he decides.

When it all becomes too much

Only during the course of the evening does it become clear that Jürg has suffered a severe slipped disc and will be out of action for many weeks. Whether an operation will be needed and whether he will ever be able to resume his work as a carpenter - all of this is still unclear. Walter spends several hours at the hospital that evening. It is almost midnight by the time he finally finishes loading the wood. Which of his other five employees can he draw on for the big job? This gets Walter thinking. The pressure to meet deadlines in the construction industry and increasing foreign competition have been causing him problems for quite some time. He actually needs more help in the office, as his wife can only work on an hourly basis with three small children. He has already sent off several invoices late - and then had to wait for the money accordingly. Walter knows it can't go on like this.

Absences: Difficulties for the entire team

This example makes it quite clear that in SMEs, absences affect the whole company. According to the Swiss Federal Coordination Commission for Occupational Safety (EKAS), an absence costs an SME between 600 and 1,000 Swiss francs per day. That includes not only the wage costs but also any possible delays, losses of quality and customer complaints. When someone becomes unavailable, it is a burden on the whole workforce, since they are now under additional stress. If the pressure becomes too great, it can undoubtedly cause further absences. Statistically, 46 percent of all employees are at risk of stress and exhaustion. Consequently, acting now is all the more important. Walter recognizes this and knows he has to do something. All the same, he does wonder how he is supposed to manage it all on his own.

Care management provides holistic support

In this difficult situation, the care management of an insurer can provide effective support. It provides the right specialists for the slipped disc and recommends a specialist clinic for the employee affected. A case manager visits the company and not only supports the sick employee, but also takes a look at the situation as a whole. After all, it is estimated that every second absence is caused by factors within the company, from a badly designed office chair to an unhealthy working environment. In this specific case it would be conceivable, for example, to arrange some coaching for the owner, in which he can learn how to relieve the pressure on himself in stressful situations. There is also a conversation with his wife. She can get her mother to look after the children and work one more day a week in the company. All of this provides some relief for Walter.

A new perspective

Next, they all give some thought to how they can distribute the work during the absence, and how they intend to organize their work in the future. Subsequently, a physiotherapist drops by to give the carpenters some tips for back-friendly working. A workplace ergonomist is also consulted. He examines the way employees stand and uses specific measures to modify poor posture. In the meantime, discussions are held constantly with the injured Jürg. It soon becomes clear that he will be unable to continue his work as a carpenter. Supported by the case manager and in consultation with his boss and the disability insurance provider, he decides to undergo retraining in the commercial sector. He will thus be able to take over a lot of the office work from Walter and his wife in the future. He takes over the orders, creates a modern website and professionalizes the accounting system. He also regularly visits customers to discuss new projects. Here, he benefits from his lengthy experience as a carpenter.

Staying in contact

Six months later, the case manager comes back to the company. Jürg is clearly enjoying his new role. Walter seems to be more relaxed and well-rested. He is proud to report that all the employees attend a back exercise course at a gym on Fridays. "But it's still a lot of stress," he admits.

Get healthy and stay healthy - how good is your insurer?

When deciding on personal insurance and an occupational pension plan (BVG), don't just compare the premiums, but also the benefits. What can your insurer offer you if an employee has an accident or becomes ill? In the event of a loss, Zurich provides you with committed, expert and individual support - if necessary also including a case manager, who accompanies and supports the employees who have become unavailable.
Would you like to know more? Contact us by email at case.management@zurich.ch or by calling 044 628 34 00.