Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Put Focus Into the Wellness Culture

If a company hasn't asked employees to fill out a health risk assessment (HRA), then it's spinning its wheels and wasting energy trying to find traction for its wellness program. If done well, a HRA provides the necessary aggregate data about the highest risks that your group of employees face. From this data, you can prioritize education pieces and activities.

At one company, we learned that one of the high risks was for back injuries to increase. We had some talks about that and increased a safety program element regarding it. Some back injury risk was due to a prevalence of being overweight and a lack of fitness. We could also talk about core muscle strengthening and encourage people to have daily exercise through some programs we did.

We learned that smoking was not a big problem so we could reduce the amount of effort focused on that. However, we learned that people were not sleeping well, and that led to other problems: sustaining energy levels with high calorie foods leading to obesity; no energy or desire to exercise; depressed emotional enjoyment; and, important to our business, lower levels of productivity, higher levels of absences and more prone to injury while at work or commuting to/from work. We tried to teach people about the importance of getting enough rest. We discussed setting up a nap stations. We stressed the importance of work-life balance.

We also found out that financial stress was playing a big part in the health of our employees, so we provided some guidance for personal budgets and other financial matters. We had a committee involved with open book management and they helped co-sponsor this effort.

Wellness efforts were focused. You can see also that the collaboration with other organizing efforts in the company and the risks' relation to business results that we made all of these efforts part of the improvement culture. It was a well-being culture, not just wellness. This will keep the effort from being a program, which is hard to sustain, to being a way of life, which has a momentum of its own.

For more information, see Dee Edington's book Zero Trends, and Dr. Rosie Ward's writings.

No comments:

Post a Comment