To truly be effective, an executive retention strategy should also consider the increased health risks faced by this group and take steps to mitigate them.
To avoid loss of productivity and its damaging effect on company performance, executive retention strategies must include solutions that support the health of strategic leaders and their families to get the executive back to health—and back to work—as quickly as possible. This not only safeguards company performance, but also lets your leaders know that you realize the risks they are taking and that you are doing your best to protect them.
Increased Health Risks
It is not a secret that the responsibilities of a leader—the pressure of big business decisions, high levels of stress, rigorous demands on schedules and frequent business travel—all contribute to greater health risks, such as elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure, which also puts them at a higher risk for heart disease. The typical travel lifestyle of an executive includes exposure to both ongoing and emergency-based health concerns. Frequent travel accelerates aging and increases the risk of stroke and heart attack, as well as exposes travelers to extreme levels of germs and radiation, not to mention infectious diseases that are more prevalent in far flung corners of the world.1, 2
Given the higher risk, it’s no wonder that the health of your strategic leaders is an issue your stockholders and other key stakeholders will care about. You need to look no further than Steve Jobs and Apple to see the impact of executive health on a company’s valuation, especially when there is a sudden change at the top.3
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The Health Issue Ripple Effects
Health issues can also hit your company’s bottom line hard. When a health issue strikes a leader—or even a leader’s family member—the business impact goes far beyond that of lost time or medical bills. The added distraction factor can have far more damaging ripple effects. Presenteeism—being present at work but spending time preoccupied with things like researching doctors, managing appointments or simply worrying—has been well documented to be much more detrimental than the more obvious and direct costs. In fact, studies have shown that health concerns can cause productivity reduction by as much as 70%, and that the vast majority of the total cost to companies associated with poor health is a result of presenteesim.4
Perhaps more concerning is what happens to the performance of those surrounding the impacted leader. Team member performance, critical client or supplier relationships, critical projects or strategic directives can all be negatively affected by a leader’s absence or distraction and can ultimately have substantial financial consequences. In short, if the strategic leader is not engaged, the rest of the company won’t be either.5
The Need to Protect Executive Health
So what can you do to proactively manage executive health risks? To be effective, you cannot simply rely on your employee wellness programs or health plan resources, as they are not designed to address the broader needs of this risk profile. Instead, you need to implement a program that incorporates three critical components:
• Executive health assessments, such as an executive physical program, which helps benchmark current health status and provides an opportunity for early detection of issues
• Access and guidance to top-notch specialty care to ensure health concerns are handled swiftly and with the highest degree of expertise to get your executive back to health and to the business
• A comprehensive suite of travel and medical emergency services that can be quickly deployed to deal with small and large emergencies while on the road, help ensure proper preventive steps are taken prior to travel and, if necessary, evacuate your leader to a hospital back home.
Given the significant investment your company is already making in these strategically impactful people, adding this additional dimension of protection is a small price that pays off in spades when a health issues strikes.
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1 “The Health Risks of Business Travel.” Harvard Business Review.
2 “Why Frequent Business Travel Is So Bad For You.” Fast Company.
3 “Executive Health a Top Priority for Stock Holders.” Corporate Wellness Magazine.
4 “Understanding Presenteeism.” Standard Insurance Company.
5 “If Executives Aren’t Engaged Employees Won’t Be Either.” Gallup.