(2006), "Back to work", International Journal of Productivity and Performance Management, Vol. 55 No. 1. https://doi.org/10.1108/ijppm.2006.07955aab.005Download as .RIS
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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Back to work
Becky Bastuk’s job at Dow Chemical is to ensure a 100,000-square-foot herbicide plant runs smoothly. After 29 years on the job, Bastuk knows the shelf life of valves and pumps. Before one has a chance to break down, she sends someone to repair or replace it. As a result, the facility has few unplanned shutdowns, clients get their herbicides on time, and Dow saves money.
Dow executives have recently taken a page from her book by working to prevent health problems among employees the same way Bastuk prevents equipment problems.
Three years ago Dr Catherine Baase, global director of health services at Dow, led a survey of nearly 7,800 of its full-time workers at five sites in Michigan and Texas. Of those surveyed, 65 per cent reported at least one chronic condition, such as allergies, arthritis and back disorders.
Dow compared the chronic conditions to other factors, such as rates of absenteeism. This helped the firm estimate the economic impact of workers’ medical conditions.
It also gave Dow a chance to save money by working to prevent problems rather than treat them after they occur.
When Bastuk had her second back surgery in 2003, Dow sent her a nurse coach to guide her through the medical paperwork. The company also sent an on-site physical therapist and, recently, a dietician to keep her in good health.
Dow now employs dozens of these nurse coaches, doctors, exercise instructors and dieticians to help workers stay healthy or recover faster and return to work.