The COVID-19 pandemic has been a wake-up call for many companies around the world regarding the health and wellbeing of their workforce, and the role of the Chief Health Officer is now more important than ever. “The time of the Chief Health Officer has arrived,” says the report commissioned by the International SOS Foundation titled “Chief Health Officer 2030: Addressing the Employee Health Needs of the Future.”
The Chief Health Officer 2030 report features brand new research from employer health professionals and experts around the world, capturing current thinking surrounding the response to COVID-19 and how best to prepare for the long journey towards healthier employees and communities. It looked at the likely impact of the pandemic on health and wellness within organisations, both now and over the next decade. This paper aims to help all organisations – large or small, global or local – plan their next steps.
Dr Chan Yanjun, Medical Director, Malaysia, International SOS, shared, “The COVID-19 pandemic has acted as a catalyst for many organisations realising the need to address the health and wellness of their employees. The awareness was already there, whether it be through traditional occupational health or mental health and wellbeing provision, only now it has become one of the top priorities for the C-Suite. Preparedness is needed beyond the pandemic, with many health matters, including mental health awareness, calling for pressing attention. Chronic diseases like diabetes and cancers also require a strategic approach towards health prevention.”
“This report highlights many of the challenges faced by organisations, both now and in the next decade. With these challenges however come tremendous opportunities. As such, if public and private organisations rise to all the risks and challenges discussed, the broader benefits will be felt across the globe, through better and more accessible healthcare, facilitating development, economic productivity and much more,” continued Dr Chan.
Some of the key findings and recommendations for organisations of the Chief Health Officer 2030 report include:
Through the research and consulting with experts around the world, the paper concludes on the importance of employee health and wellness as well as the impact on the C-Suite in defining the role of the Chief Health Officer within their organisation. The key findings of the paper include:
- Health and wellness is a broad issue that goes beyond COVID-19 – all aspects must be addressed.
- Addressing health and wellness meaningfully requires leadership at C-Suite level.
- The Chief Health Officer is best placed – and highly trusted – to deliver on Health and Wellness commitments.
- Global organisations need to be able to tap into the regional health expertise seamlessly, especially in times of crisis.
- Chief Health Officers can be internal appointments, external providers, or a combination of the two.
Recommendations For Organisations:
Partner with a Chief Health Officer to manage all business-critical health issues
- Health regulatory and policy compliance which can be a challenge as it varies at global, regional and local levels. Reliable and up-to-date information is key to ensure you keep complying with the different legal frameworks where you operate.
- Workplace wellbeing management and improvement – Your workforce wellbeing, both physical and mental, is critical to maximise your employees’ productivity and ensure business continuity. It is also today seen as a lever for recruitment, retention and competitive advantage.
- Monitoring of the escalating costs to business associated with lack of proactive health risk management.
Recruit a Chief Health Office that fits your organisation’s needs
- Management experience from working with multinationals and across industries.
- Industry knowledge of best practices and benchmarking in your sector.
- Early visibility of emerging health trends affecting various industries.
Once resourced, consider asking your Chief Health Officer for key elements
- Ensure to have access to fact-based information from reliable sources.
- Ability to analyse the accessed information and highlight the relevant parts to your organisation.
- Providing the information to your workforce and communicate effectively.
David Ng, Managing Director, Malaysia & Myanmar, International SOS, added, “Given the amount of action needed in response to the pandemic, many organisations called upon International SOS to help. Globally throughout 2020, we assisted with over 73,000 COVID-19 related cases, expanded our global TeleConsultation network to 32 countries and managed 1,108 COVID-19 testing facilities across 135 countries. Also, across 153 countries, we performed 246 air ambulance movements for COVID-19 patients and 631 for other patients, totalling 9,690 flight hours, and operated 32 charters with 2,000 passengers.
“As welcome as it is, the COVID-19 vaccine is not the end of the current crisis. There is still much to do. Employers can and must play an increasing role in the health of their employees, not just to mitigate the impact of a future pandemic, but also to address other sustainability issues like climate change and the myriad of other factors affecting employee health. To deal with this, an organisation needs strategic advice, vision and long-term plans, which is why the role of the Chief Health Officer is now more important than ever,” concluded David Ng.
The survey findings represent responses from more than 100 professionals who are responsible for employee health across the world: with representation from those working in the Americas, Asia Pacific, Middle East, Africa and Europe. The survey was targeted at those who organise, influence, or are responsible for, their organisation’s health management, policies and procedures, with more than one third of respondents holding Health, Medical, HSE or Chief Health Officer roles.