At the 2018 RIMS Annual Conference, Kimberly George from Sedgwick and Dawn Watkins from LAUSD talked about the challenges and benefits of embracing a whole health model for your workforce.
The definition of “whole health” varies depending on your point of view. For some, it means integrating the benefit delivery model to include workers’ comp and disability. For others, it is a more holistic approach to total employee wellness.
Whole health is about breaking down silos and fully focusing on the person and their needs, not which bucket pays for it. If your employees are not at work for any reason, it impacts your business. For instance, a school district wants their teachers in the classroom for continuity of the education. We all remember what happened in school when we were children and there was a substitute.
For many employers, Risk Management and Human Resources are not in the same silo and, because of that, getting those departments to work together can be a challenge. There are also legal issues with these silos as federal, state and local leave of absence laws also apply to workers’ compensation claims.
Communication with employees who are off work for any reason is important. You want them to continue to feel part of the workplace community. This encourages a prompt return to work because they know their co-workers care about them and it also avoids the anxiety associated with being away from the workplace. You should consider using employee satisfaction scoring to evaluate your programs to ensure they are providing good customer service to your workforce.
Good communication with the medical care team is also important. Encourage your employees to ask questions to the medical providers so they fully understand the treatment and outcome expectations. It is important for employers to fully engage in their healthcare.
Employers have a wide variety of data about the health of their workforce. On a big picture level, they will know what diagnosis the providers are seeing, what treatments the employees are receiving and what medications are dispensed. For instance, when you see your employees have a high frequency of diabetes, there is an opportunity to improve wellness efforts for your workforce, including awareness about pre-diabetes, the importance of a healthy diet and fitness.
Mental health is an extremely important aspect of any whole health program. Unfortunately, this has not received enough attention due to a combination of stigma, inadequate insurance coverage and a shortage of medical providers.