This session at the 2015 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference connected wellness and injury prevention in the workplace, including the importance of creating a corporate wellness program.
- Sue Parks, CEO at iCount Wellness
- Michael Simmons, MAOM, CSRM, Director, Risk Management at Riverside Community College District
There are a lot of health issues in our workforce. The biggest risk factor is that we all are aging, so risks and costs are increasing. This is why it is so important to have a preventative strategy in the workforce.
There are two categories of health issues that are affecting the United States:
- Physical – The standard American diet is, overall, poor and most of us are sedentary at work.
- Mental – Many suffer from stress, distraction and depression.
The good news is that wellness can work if done well. Behavior change and culture change can happen, and bottom lines for organizations can improve.
Methods to promote physical wellness:
- Annual biometrics can engage workers and bring awareness to the creep cycle.
- Education can be done on how to eat healthily.
- Exercise incentives could motivate employees to get moving.
- A wellness coach can help set small, achievable goals.
- An overall culture of wellness is important to reinforce all efforts.
According to Health Advocate, roughly 30% of workers reported extreme stress, which causes them to be prone to fatigue, mistakes and are more likely to be absent. Extreme stress can also incur health costs two times higher than other employees. It is estimates that $200-300 billion a year is lost in productivity due to this issue.
Methods to promote mental wellness:
- Health risk assessments uncover stress issues.
- Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction programs (MBSR) help employees learn stress reduction and get back in the present.
- Technology rules modeled by leadership, including no texting in meetings, not emails while on vacation.
- Education on important stress-reducing items like getting a good night’s sleep and the importance of exercise.
What makes a wellness program successful:
- Engaged leadership at multiple levels.
- Strategic alignment with the organization’s identity and goals.
- A design that is broad in scope and high in relevance and quality.
- Broad accessibility.
- Internal and external partnerships.
- Effective communications to engage employees.
- Keep moving forward and improving your program.
Cultural change has to occur to influence personal behavioral change. There’s nothing better than seeing your workforce, that you care about, take better care of themselves.