You are quite possibly correct! You might have a division, or indeed a whole workforce, of roles with very low physical demands. As providers of pre-employment screenings, we often see a scenario where candidates with fairly significant health risks are still hired into positions where their limited functional capacity is unlikely to be an immediate, tangible issue (versus physically demanding roles, where an inability to lift something heavy that is an inherent requirement of the role will be an issue from Day 1).
But the health risks remain, and are associated with increased rates of absenteeism, presenteeism and disability, as Figure 1 shows below.
Figure 1. Impact of health risks and work hours lost. From Burton et al (1999). The role of health risk factors and disease on worker productivity. J Occup Environ Med. 1999 Oct;41(10):863-77.
We aren’t suggesting that you only hire athletes, even for roles that aren’t physically demanding. Doing so would preclude your author for one! But we do suggest you consider how you can mitigate health risks so that the organisation and the new employee both get what they want – a happy, healthy and productive employee who has the capacity to work to the top of their scope.
Being honest with yourself – if you’re going to hire the candidate anyway (and that’s ok!), for some roles, departments or organisations, a traditional pre-employment check may have limited value. Where you’re likely to get better bang for buck is a post-commencement health check. This service shares a few elements with an executive health assessment – it’s all about identifying health risks, prioritising areas for improvement, and putting in place a plan to get there, in confidence and without any consequences for the person’s employment. Doing it just after commencement also sends a powerful and positive message to your new employee – their health is valued, and their new employer is committed to their wellbeing.
If you’re interested in discussing what a post-commencement heath assessment program could do for your team, or any of our other services, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.