Health and wellness are becoming an important topic today, and for many great reasons. Todays modern work environment consists of long periods of sitting, which results in weight gain and back strain, computer screen eyestrain and quick, unhealthy meals between meetings and lunch break. This type of environment isn’t accommodating to the mental and physical well being of employees. Another reason is the cost of healthcare is growing exponentially. On average, health care costs per employee in the U.S. increase around $500 per year. See, for example, the graph below from Statistica on Employer’s healthcare costs per employees in the USA.
As a physician, I am encouraged by the changes that companies are making to be proactive and add wellness programs at work to prevent health issues from arising in the first place. A common complaint is that employees are not taking advantage of the resources available to them. Here are my tips from both my experience with patients, working with medical practices as well as large organizations, trying to encourage behavior change.
- Make it comfortable and familiar: Each program usually has its app, website and customer support number. Consolidating all of the resources into a single mobile app as the common launchpad increases utilization – leading to better health and wellbeing. New enterprise solutions available today allow you to customize a mobile application for your company and make changes as needed. All without the need for your company IT department to get involved.
- Create Awareness: Having an easy way to communicate about existing and new wellness programs are a great way to get people engaged. Snail mail and even email tend are often overlooked. Newer and more convenient communication tools help get the message out. For example, check our article on using videos and podcasts as alternative sources of engagement.
- Live help: In a world of AI and automation, never underestimate the value of human contact. Having 24/7 access to a health ambassador to answer medical questions and promote resources to keep employees healthy has a significant impact on user engagement and satisfaction. These triage nurses are also able to prevent unnecessary ER visits as well as encourage utilization of your wellness programs.
- Provide a safe space: Having a trusted medical resource not affiliated with the insurance company creates a safe and confidential channel that encourages employees to reach out. Our surveys show that employees are hesitant to call their insurance company to evaluate symptoms. Having a confidential separate resource encourages usage.
- Provide assistance with mental health: Our busy lives today are creating a rise in stress and depression. When short-term stress leads to chronic stress, this can take a considerable toll on employee health and well-being. Short-term stress can cause physical complications such as headaches, stomach aches, and difficulty concentrating. All leading to a less productive workday and unhappy employees. Providing a standard EAP program is no longer enough. Look for programs that have supportive counselors available on demand and that are willing to help you create awareness and encourage their usage.
A wellness program at work is an effective strategy for making employees happier; resulting in better productivity, lower healthcare costs, and fewer turnovers. Through the combination of mobile technology, health ambassadors and nurses, and ease of communication, you can build trust, communication, productivity, and behavioral changes. Contact us today for a free evaluation on how to build a customized program to encourage wellbeing and decrease healthcare expenses in your company.