How Can Your Health Plan Be More Personal?

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Investment bank Morgan Stanley recently hired a Chief Medical Officer. General Motors made the Detroit-based Henry Ford Health System the only in-network option for 24,000 salaried employees in southeast Michigan. And, Apple joined many other large employers in using on-site clinics to provide more personalized care. These tactics are being used to address a combination of risk factors contributing to costly chronic conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

Filling Voids in Wellness Programs

We all know how hard it is to change lifestyle habits. While traditional wellness programs can offer great tools and improved access, more and more employers are realizing that to boost engagement and keep it from fading over time, you must tailor a program to the needs of each individual.

This level of involvement, sometimes referred to as condition management, includes more personal involvement and communication. Providing guidance and support on nutrition, exercise, stress management and other concerns can help at-risk employees overcome the challenges that have kept them from enjoying their best life.

Corporate Fitness & Health

What’s in a Wellness Program?

scaleThe thought of a corporate wellness program conjures up visions of apples and scales. The notion that wellness programs are built only to keep weight in check barely scratches the surface of what wellness can do. A well thought-out program takes the health needs of your employee population into consideration, but also envelopes the bigger wellness picture.

Supporting overall wellness is a carefully-orchestrated act that requires regular attention to a variety of topics beyond just diet and exercise. While these things are important, a great wellness program exceeds screening for health issues and takes into consideration the social, financial, spiritual, intellectual and emotional factors that make up overall well-being. Ignoring these and solely focusing on biometrics would be like trying to fix a broken pipe without turning off the water!

Wellness programs are fun!
Engaging activities are a great way to educate and motivate employees to make positive lifestyle changes. Creativity is king in corporate wellness. Delivering information in a meaningful way could utilize table displays, interactive presentations, health fairs and field days, one-on-one health coaching and much more.

Extracurricular activities during the workday improve employee morale and show that the company cares. The result is a happier, more productive and more engaged work force. A company that values employee wellness has a greater ability to attract and retain key employees, enhancing their business overall. Focusing a wellness program where employees need the most help has the potential to lower the cost of healthcare and reduce absenteeism and presenteeism over time.

A truly successful wellness program shifts company culture to a healthier place. It takes cooperation from all parties within the company to instill significant change in wellness culture. Creating a healthy and happy work environment is a daily affair that is within reach with the help of a professional wellness partner.

If starting a wellness program for your company has you scratching your head, call to set up a consultation with Corporate Fitness and Health! What works for one company’s employees may not work for another. Each program is tailored to the needs and budget of the group. Our experienced staff can help determine your company’s needs and develop a unique program designed with your employees in mind.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month – Why Your Company Should Care

This article was published on May 4, 2018 on Corporate Fitness & Health’s blog. Photo Credit Corporate Fitness & Health.

Given that most of us spend a good amount of our time at work, it should come as no surprise that our work environment plays a significant role in our mental health and overall well-being. Despite the role that office culture plays in employee health, companies rarely, if ever, mention mental health.

As mental health issues become more prevalent in the workplace, employers should consider taking ownership, and learn how to best combat the stressors that are particular to their workforce.

2016 Work and Well-Being survey by the American Psychological Association (APA) reported that less than half of the 1,501 workers surveyed felt their organization supported employee well-being, and one in three reported being chronically stressed on the job.

Mental Health Problems Cost Employers

Less than one-third of Americans are happy with their work. Half of the workforce is “checked-out.”  18% are unhappy with their current position with some even sabotaging the success of their workplace. An unhappy or unhealthy work environment is bad for a business’ bottom line and bad for employees.

Employees with untreated mental illnesses cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance abuse, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services.

Workplace Stress

Stress is on the rise. More than half (54%) of employees are reporting high stress levels, up five points from last year. Further, 37% say their stress levels are higher than the previous year, according to the 2017 National Business Group on Health/Aon Hewitt Consumer Health Mindset Survey.

The good news? There are a number of ways employers can help combat stress, such as creating an emotional fitness strategy to reduce stigma and address stressful, top-of-mind issues.

If we recognized that all of us deal with our mental health every day – from personal health or family stressors, to work demands, to upsetting world events – we would understand the value in protecting it and promoting our personal resilience to deal with whatever life presents to us.

Who is your population? Evaluate your work environment to address issues that negatively impact employees’ emotional health and train leaders and managers to spot the subtle warning signs of a suffering employee.

Those in unhealthy work environments tend to gain more weight, have more healthcare appointments, and have higher rates of absenteeism. Stress from work can also impact their family life, mental health and even increase risks for chronic illnesses and heart attacks.

Mental Health Awareness Month Is an Opportunity

People aren’t considered either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum, and an organization’s culture can greatly impact where an employee falls on that continuum.

Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.

Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to open up the conversation about mental health issues in the workplace. Implementing stress awareness, or a corporate wellness program are just a few ways companies can promote positive mental well-being in their workplace.

The Diversified Group family of companies includes Corporate Fitness & Health. With over 30 years of experience, CF&H can help your organization implement a wellness program that will keep your employees happy, healthy and engaged.

Tailored wellness programs improve the bottom line

The article below was published on June 21, 2017 by Employee Benefit News, written by Alicia Kelsey.

Employer-sponsored health plans are taking up an increasing amount of real estate on companies’ operating budgets, and management has had to get creative in order to slow the rise in costs.

One creative solution that companies have turned to is a customized employee wellness program. By using data of the health of their population, enlisting industry specialists and vendors to help structure plans, and applying new technologies, many employers are seeing that tailored plans are surprisingly effective at managing costs.

“Tailored” is the key word when creating an effective employee wellness program. The first step is for an employer to know the health issues that their employees, and their spouses and dependents face. This is commonly done by asking plan members to complete a health risk assessment. Health reimbursement arrangements now include such details as average hours of sleep per night, nutritional and exercise habits, and biometric data including weight, cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

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Image Source: benefitnews.com

The latter information in particular, introduced into the HRA process in the past decade, adds the critical physician component into health management. Typically collected by third-party vendors following doctor visits for privacy reasons, biometric details provide a superior snapshot of the overall well-being of a person. This data, when paired with advanced claims details and analysis, have vastly improved companies’ abilities to tailor their employee wellness programs to their employees’ needs. The more a company can perfect that tailoring, the more effective that company will be at managing costs and risks.

Technology has notably played a key role in improving the data available to companies and increased the participation and utilization of their wellness programs. Whereas physical activity was once self-reported, for example, a fitness device can now provide not only more accurate, but also more extensive information.

Similarly, programs can be administered online, increasing ease of use and reducing implementation costs. Many wellness companies have the ability to sync fitness activity from devices into their platforms so it can be managed all in one place.

It’s difficult for companies to manage all of this on their own, and it’s not a one-size-fits all solution. While there are many pre-existing program options out there, it’s better to tailor it to a company’s population. In the past decade, the number of options available has increased exponentially. Companies now have access to wellness tools of all shapes and sizes — arguably to an overwhelming degree. In other words, now is a good time for companies to look at their wellness programs and ask some sharp questions. Is the program tailored to the company’s employees? Does it meet the employer’s goal?

An effective program requires a concerted effort from the company’s leadership team. To incorporate a properly designed wellness program, a company must take time to determine both the needs of its employees and the goals of the company.

A third party — usually in the form of an insurance broker — can provide key assistance in these efforts by bringing in both the health claims data, benefits plan integration and an extensive knowledge of the wellness program options available. They have the ability to help the employer research and vet the right wellness vendor for the issues plaguing their population as well as fit it into the companies’ overall employee benefits strategy.

Wellness programs are no longer a stand-alone initiative. They are becoming more baked into the overall management of a company’s health population. With increasing healthcare costs, now is a perfect time for companies to revisit how they are managing their wellness program and what can be done to align it with their overall benefits goals.

Corporate Fitness & Health

Is Your Organization Encouraging Wellness?

A worksite wellness program that consists of only a health risk assessment is missing out on the opportunity to impact the broader factors that influence unhealthy behavior in employees’ lives – such as physical and emotional stress, both at work and home.

The Institute for Wellness Education has conducted research that shows significant gaps in understanding as to what constitutes good health and wellness. Studies show that more than 1 in 3 Americans do not recognize the difference between wellness and the absence of diagnosed illness or disease. In addition, misconceptions are prevalent with regard to how to make effective and sustainable lifestyle changes.

For example, despite evidence demonstrating that multiple factors – including psychological, social, physiological and sustainable weight loss, 73% of men and 68% of women believe willpower to be the most important element.

Sustainable change requires solutions tailored to the individual’s needs, interests and desires. Employers can impact unhealthy behaviors by offering a variety of programs that encourage or promote healthy habits and activities, both in the workplace and at home.

For more health and wellness tips and information, view the Diversified Group’s Summer Group Scoop Newsletter.

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