Friday, October 24, 2008


The smirk on my face all but got wiped out when I saw the University of Colorado 2005 report [‘Worker wellbeing and supervisor gender’] which confirmed beyond doubt that “working in a more female dominated environment” was truly beneficial for employee health! Chauvinist that I was, I couldn’t digest the fact that finally, to get ‘healthier’, I had to work under – of all blistering barnacles – a female boss!!! I mean, there obviously had to be better methods to get healthier than getting fried in the devil’s pan, right?! And there began the quest of my team members to escape perdition.

In fact, if one thought that not having a female boss would lead to productivity losses, the National Business Group on Health [representing 185 companies, primarily Fortune 500 firms covering more than 40 million workers...] shows how, for US firms, “...productivity loss resulting from... smoking related diseases cost a staggering $157 billion every year.” [In fact, the Purdue University’s Health Care Special Report puts this at a killing $234 billion]. This dirge is just the tip. The US Office of Technology & Assessment conclusively proved [in ‘Burden of Tobacco on Your Workplace’] that smokers averaged a whopping 300% more sick leaves than non-smokers. Seattle University showed how “the propensity for smokers to become disabled and retire early is almost 600% greater than for non-smokers!” But what left me stunned was this incredible research of Cappelli, Pauly & Lemaire of Wharton, [‘The Effects of Obesity, Smoking & Drinking...’] who quote that “obese individuals have 30%-50% more chronic medical problems than those who smoke or drink heavily!”

The authoritative US National Bureau of Economic Research and Chicago GSB confirm in their benchmark September 2008 paper that “expenditures on health care in the US are likely to rise from a current level of about 15% to about 29% of GDP by 2040.” That is a mind boggling $3 trillion even at current prices! So are global firms getting worried? Hewitt Associates’ April 2007 survey found out after surveying 8 million workers that now 77% of firms are “profiling chronic health conditions prevalent in their workforce!” This figure was a mere 43% just a year back. Without doubt, employee health & productivity are perfectly correlated! Period! GEMI, a top non-profit research firm with Fortune 500 firms as members, irrefutably proves [in ‘Clear Advantage: Building Shareholder Value’] that excellence in health [and even environment and safety issues] can add dramatically to shareholder value by almost 50 to 90%, apart from reducing operational and capital costs [16% less for high performing companies, as per the noted Towers Perrin ‘2008 Health Care Cost Survey’].

So who should take the blame for all the productivity losses occurring due to bad health habits? The big league Watson Wyatt covered 5 million workers in their stupendous 2005/2006 survey [‘Staying@Work: Employee Health...’] and established that a compelling 74% of organisations believe that “their employees should be held accountable.” Weyco Inc, a top health care firm, now has a policy of throwing out employees even if they smoke at home. BusinessWeek’s February 2007 cover story shows how the ‘totally-smoke-free’ $2.7 billion Scotts Co. throws out its employees for failing nicotine detection tests [for which, Jack Welch exclaimed to Scotts’ CEO Jim Hagedorn, “Man, you have balls of steel!”]. Tell me now boys, after reading all this, doesn’t it occur to you that there are obviously better ways to improve productivity than to have female bosses?! Tony, to have the guts to say yes, all you will need, like the thrice-married Jack mentions above, are two metallic spheres! Got them?


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