The American Association of Occupational Health Nurses (AAOHN) has released its employer research findings that uncover employer perceptions of and attitudes toward employee health. The research, released at the AAOHN 2005 Symposium & Expo in Minneapolis earlier this month, was conducted to better gauge executive management's thoughts on issues surrounding their employees’ health and wellness, according to AAOHN.

Findings will be used as a tool to help the occupational health industry better understand the mindset of corporate decision-makers and the landscape of employee health from the employer perspective.

More than 100 employers, including human resources executives; medical directors and environmental, health and safety professionals from various industry backgrounds completed one-on-one interviews. Key findings of the study include:

  • Employee health is crucial: 72 percent of executives interviewed indicated that keeping employees healthy is crucial to business success and felt it is their duty to keep employees safe and well.

  • Key OHN hiring indicators: For executives, the most common signals that indicate the need to hire an OHN are high injury or illness rate; high absenteeism; increase in workers’ compensation cases; government mandates and compliance.

  • Employers unaware of employee health impact: Half of companies interviewed said they do not know the full cost related to employee health- and disability-related issues. Companies who said they did have information available to assess the true costs of employee health issues tended to be the most active in offering value-focused employee health activities such as employee health and wellness programs.

  • OHNs’ value: When asked to define the value they placed on OHNs in their company, nearly 60 percent of executive management described their occupational health nurse as invaluable to their company. All additional responses were also positive descriptors. The top four benefits of OHNs are reduced workers’ compensation; better bottom line due to health and safety programs; reduced absenteeism; reduced incidence of injuries/fatality.