What is Early Symptom Intervention, or ESI, and how can both employers and employees benefit by focusing on it?
Waiting too long to address an employee discomfort issue is no doubt a contributing reason to why organizations find themselves trying to cover missed shifts, dealing with FMLA forms, watching their employees suffer, and blowing budgets.
Whether it’s the employee’s delay or our own, the outcome is the same: pain that finally insists on being dealt with, often at great expense to all involved.
What if we could create a culture that encouraged employees to come forward and be taken care of before that happens?
That’s what early symptom intervention programs are all about. Not only do they help employees avoid becoming debilitated by their discomfort, they also make workers feel cared for and valuable as human beings. Employee engagement goes up and employee absenteeism goes down. Workers stay in the job longer, feeling as if, with the right kind of help, they can really handle the work.
Savings achieved through the implementation of ESI programs accrue quickly. Studies have shown that an immediate reduction in productivity-related costs such as absenteeism and worker’s comp claims are to be expected. As worker health improves over time, the cumulative cost savings rise, and productivity and product quality improve. The general consensus in the literature is that an organization can achieve breakeven on a wellness program such as ESI in the second year of implementation and begin to achieve significant cost savings in year three, as much as three dollars saved for every dollar spent on the program.
The way such a program is implemented, however, can improve the payback timeline. Wellness programs that invite employees to access online portals where they can learn, self-report their own progress toward health goals, and perhaps get incentivized to do so will return one type of result. Programs that objectively track third party interventions per employee, station and situation will return another.
At Physical Performance Solutions, our ESI programs are of the latter type. We’ve found that the fastest payback period can be achieved by utilizing these tools:
- First aid massage
- Movement and stretch programs specifically to encourage better normalization of muscle firing patterns and muscle movement patterns at the workstation
- Lift school training programs
- Semg (Surface Electromyography) at workstations to determine actual movement patterns workers are using
- Individually customized approaches to educate employees on dysfunctional movement patterns and how to change them
- Tracking of individual progress and success
Every workplace is different. Every type of work is different. Every worker is different. As client and athlete Ted McLyman says, “One size fits one.” Customizing a solution that directly addresses your organization and your workers’ needs is critical to success.