2nd International Congress with Innovation Fair

Sustainable Management In Action

19-20 September 2005, University of Geneva, UNI MAIL

SMIA05-News 2


2nd International Congress with Innovation Fair
19 - 20 September 2005, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Official Carrier : Swiss International Air Lines

PME-vital / Sustainable health management in SME's (small and medium size enterprises)

Over the last decades, the economic development has accelerated so fast that so called external health effects are becoming increasingly evident. As a result, a growing number of employees complain of psychological strain, due to too high a work load, growing time pressure and the fear of loosing their jobs.

In companies, this evolution provokes increasing absenteeism, a decrease in working efficiency and motivation, as well as a decline in employees' health and threatens their earning potential.
In national economies it causes an increase in external damages and costs:
According to the Federal Institute for Working Safety and Medicine, the annual cost due to psychological strain in Germany amounts to approximately 24 billion EURO
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs of Switzerland (seco) estimates the national health cost to companies at 8 billion CHF per year.

In answer, to these problems, innovative instruments for the work health promotion (WHP) have been developed during the last years whose aim is to promote the well-being of employees, to prevent illness and to improve their health. They provide directly measurable benefits: reduction of absenteeism, work accidents and insurance costs, as well as an improvement of productivity, competitiveness, the companies' image and employee and customer satisfaction.
In Finland it has been demonstrated that every Euro invested in programs for maintaining work ability provides a return of Euro 4 to 6 in productivity. Moreover, cost benefit ratios established in US-studies range from $ 3 to $ 8 for every Dollar invested in health promotion programs within 5 years.

In spite of the above evident benefits, work health promotion (WHP) in SME's cannot keep pace with the evolution of related damages. Only a few practice preventive WHP.

For this reason, between 2001 and 2004, the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Zurich, developed SME-vital, a practical program for health promotion in SME's. Available free of charge via Internet (, in French), it consists of 10 modules: Introduction, planning, analysis (survey of managers and employees, health circle), development of organisation (work and ergonomics), employees development (teamwork, PME-vital as executive function) and health behaviour (wellness and stress management).

The program has had a successful start. Already six months after launching, approximately 500 companies have already downloaded more than 3000 modules.

At the SMIA05-Congress, PME-vital will be demonstrated as an outstanding instrument for sustainable management. It will be presented in the Workshop "Tools for SME's" by Katherina Lehmann of Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine of the University of Zurich, and by Ralph Thomas, RT-Consult, Biel, Switzerland.

Information: and
Organising Committee: Hubert Klun: Phone. +41 21 646 59 80, E-mail: hklun@(ch)