by Bryce Davis, Field Manager, PreCare Inc.
Workplace (Corporate) Wellness programs – Why are they important? How does the Employee benefit? How does the Employer benefit? These are all questions that have been surrounding Corporate Wellness Programs for years, however as more programs are developed and larger pools of information are accessed, these answers are being defined with additional clarity and specificity.
Workforce health and medical costs have been attributed to the ‘bottom-line’ of corporations, both large and small, for decades. This appeared to be a relatively straightforward problem with easily addressable solutions (i.e. Medical Costs, Pharmaceutical Costs, etc). However, according to the study Health and Productivity as a Business Strategy: A Multiemployer Study completed by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine; the one area not addressed with enough attention was Lost Productivity, particularly lost productivity due to “Presenteeism” (a situation that develops due to a medical condition or illness: an employee shows up for work, but cannot perform his job at full capacity). Some of the major factors involved in “Presenteesim” are obesity, arthritis, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and back and neck pain (Loepke MD, et al., 2009). It is estimated that the overall impact of poor health on the workplace is estimated at $1.8 trillion (Statistics, 2009). It has been these revealing statistics, as well as many others, that have brought about the transformation of current Corporate Wellness Programs.
Workplace Wellness programs can range from providing Health Risk Assessments, Annual Blood Pressure Screenings, group exercise classes, providing pamphlets on specific health concepts and exercise, to individual health assessments and structured guidance based on employee specific metrics and goals. Wellness Services are provided in many different formats; virtual, one time onsite training, program development from an outside source with implementation by the corporation’s staff, and implementation of a Wellness program using specific onsite staffing.
The benefits to utilizing an onsite clinician to initiate employee-centric programs are multidimensional; increased employee motivation, encouraging follow through and commitment to the program, specific modification to an employee’s program mid-stream, and early recognition of risk factors and potential life threatening illnesses, e.g. High Blood Pressure. The Workplace Wellness program PreCare Inc. has developed was designed to be personal, educational, and directionally specific to the questions and goals the employee presents. This program allows a clinician to systematically direct employees within their current health and wellness goals, while helping provide direction and proper access to their current health care benefits, i.e. Primary Care MDs, Dentists, Ophthalmologists, Annual Physicals and Exams, etc.
The onsite clinician has the ability to offer specific classes, both group and individual, on topics that are relevant to the employee and the employer as a whole site, i.e. Physical Activity Guidelines, Balancing Calories and Intake, Nutrition, Strength Training, and Overall Wellness Guidelines. The onsite clinician provides the most important part of a successful Wellness Program: Education and follow up. Comprehensive and continuous education continues to be the “X” factor in the outcomes derived from Corporate Wellness Programs. A quality program alone will not provide the results a corporation is seeking, without the consistent and knowledgeable follow up from a health professional, usually over an 8-12 month period.
Within the initial 12 months of implementation, PreCare, Inc. has noted tangible and positive employee specific changes in response to the program. PreCare’s onsite clinicians are also in the position to recognize potentially serious health issues and immediately refer the employee for medical intervention. During routine blood pressure checks for the wellness program, onsite clinician noted a significantly high blood pressure (>180/145) with one of the employees, in conjunction with reported severe headaches and dizziness. The EE was referred to the nearest ER and admitted for observation and proper treatment.
Providing employees with the proper tools (education) and resources to maintain their health is essential when attempting to maintain a positive workforce and high levels of productivity. This type of program not only helps maintain the health of the employee, but also contributes to a healthy bottom-line by lowering healthcare costs!
Works Cited Loepke MD, R., Taitel PhD, M., Haufle MPH, V., Parry PhD, T., Kessler PhD, R., & Jinnett PhD, K. (2009). Health and Productivity as a Business Study: A Multiemployer Study. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 411-429. Statistics, B. o. (2009). The Employment Situation: December 2008. Washington, DC: US Department of Labor.