Volney Vásquez Henríquez - Professor of Physical Education, Universidad de Chile
The concept of "productivity improvement" is fashionable in Chile. We urgently need as an emerging economy to improve our performance and productive levels by making better use of the available resources. In order to protect that improvement, two National Productivity Commissions have been created under the auspices of our government. We have had the fortune to talk to government officials from both Commissions in order to explain and discuss our vision that the health and well-being of people play a very important role in labor productivity. We have found that the many issues both Commissions will be dealing with are the use of new technologies, innovation, technical training of human resources, and inclusion of young people, old people and women in the labor world, among others. However the issue of the health of people has not been brought forward as yet. This certainly opens the possibility of contributing our knowledge and experience for the generation of future related public policies.
Promondo, the Chilean company I am a Director of, this year celebrates 28 years in the sector of health promotion in the workplace. Over those years ourselves and Promondo have had to evolve, looking for new methods that allow us to continue growing and delivering integrated qualified wellness programs. One way we have done that is, a couple of years ago, we entered into a strategic relationship with the American company Health Improvement Solutions (HIS) located in Omaha, Nebraska. HIS is directed by Joe Leutzinger a specialist with more than 30 years experience investigating the relationship between health and productivity in companies all over the world. From this alliance we have introduced in some national companies a survey that allows us to evaluate how much the poor health of their workers costs them by measuring absenteeism and presenteeism. Some of the companies that we have worked with and implemented this instrument, have already taken action to try to reduce the costs that were identified.
Specifically, we have created a study laboratory with a Chilean company of 350 workers based in the city of Santiago. The results from the Productivity Plus Survey (PPS), informed the development of an intervention program involving implementing improvements in nutritional programs, programs of physical exercise, care of musculoskeletal pathologies, treatments for better sleep, reduction of work shifts, plans of prevention of risks and safety at work, salary improvements, dynamics of approach between workers and management (psychosocial risk), psychological support for workers and family, and treatments for addictions. This company measures the productivity of its employees, shares this information with us, allowing us to monitor our work and review the program continuously. This formula seems to be the ideal one.
After almost 2 years, productivity improvements have been evident and sharing the analysis with the top executives of the company, they have declared Promondo to be a strategic partner of theirs. It seems to me that this is the only way that can make us win the confidence of the entrepreneurs and make our value proposition truly interesting. Otherwise we run the risk of continuing to deliver outdated services that at any moment can become dispensable.
We have shared all accumulated data and experiences with the aforementioned National Productivity Commissions in order to continue to add validated metrics and data to their resources. The Commission’s specialists in economics are assisting us to acquire the most relevant and valuable information for them. We are pleased to be a contributor and our hope is that our proposals are imitated by the entire business sector. Our goal for the next 2 years is to add more companies to our study laboratory in order to be able to demonstrate that healthy workers are more productive and efficient, and that any investment in Health and Labor Welfare can bring significant returns.
If all goes well, all levels of our society will benefit greatly from this: the key will be to identify the tasks of each - the State, workers, entrepreneurs and service providers.
Perhaps this issue is not new for countries where progress has been made in studies and research on health and labor productivity for years. But for us in Chile it represents a new area of interest and we do not want to miss the opportunity to highlight it. The challenge that comes before us seems to be very challenging but exciting. I hope to tell you about our progress in the near future.
Volney Vásquez Henríquez is the President and CEO of Promondo Corporate Wellness, Professor of Physical Education, Universidad de Chile, Master in Sport Management, Universidad Metropolitana de Ciencias de la Educación, Chile, Diploma in Sports Management, Havana, Cuba, International Cycling Coach, 3 years of work in European professional cycling (1987-1989), 30 years directing programs of Wellness and Health Promotion in more than 50 Chilean companies; international certificate in Health Promotion and Wellness coaching; member of the Glimmer Initiative, U.S.A. 2015.Organizer of 7 editions of the International Forum of Corporate Health, Santiago de Chile (2008-2015), Co-author of the book "Global Perspectives in Health Promotion", IIHP, Washington D.C., 2013.