Population health is concerned with improving the health of an entire human population, typically by focusing on three, main components: health outcomes, the ecosystems that people exist in like social, environmental and cultural, and finally policies and interventions aimed at improving or maintaining positive health and well-being. With 159 million workers in the U.S., (US Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 12, 2016), I don’t think anyone can argue that the workplace is a significant context that individuals are embedded in addition to their families, communities, cultures and social networks. Work, along with its’ environment, policies and practices impacts the health behaviors of individuals and health impacts work. It’s an organic connection, which makes the inclusion of workplace wellness in the world of population health a natural fit. In short, improving the health of employee populations is an important solution for improving population health overall. From a big picture point of view, effective workplace strategies can be the spark that ignites a culture of health in society, that reduces the burden of health risk and illness, improves the health and productivity of our nation’s workforce and enhances the profitability of employers. That ‘s a tall statement, but is meant to shine a light on the opportunity that I believe exists when employers approach health and well-being in a strategic and comprehensive way. Dee Edington wraps up this idea well with a big bow in his book, “Zero Trends”. He says that by helping employees flourish, the organization flourishes, and so do families and communities. I couldn’t agree more.
Wellness is a cultural trend these days and employers, whether large, medium-sized or even those with under 50 employees are increasingly paying attention. The reasons organizations invest in wellness vary from wanting to improve employee health to saving on health care costs. Other businesses see it as a way to attract and retain the best workforce or to enhance productivity. Whatever the reason, there are plenty of companies and new technologies out there…and more popping up every day that offer solutions. Confusion also exists though, about how to do wellness at work in the right and most cost-effective way. In other words, I believe the questions that comes up for many employers when they think about employee wellness programs are… “where do I start” and “what is the best way to deliver wellness at my workplace”? The answers to those questions start with exploring and deciding what your objectives, as an organization, are in offering health and well-being initiatives for your employees. Once your why is clear, various types of data (depending on company size) can be collected and used to drive a strategy, and to develop, implement and evaluate a plan that targets your objectives. Wellness programs that work are also built on the premise that they are done “with” your workforce rather than “to” them so a process that invites employee input is especially crucial when it comes to getting participation and engagement down the road.
Wellness Wisdom that Works has a passion for helping small companies navigate the process of collecting data, planning, implementing and evaluating great wellness programs that make sense…and ones that align with business objectives, culture and employee needs and interests. Carol Spader is a workplace wellness consultant and the owner of Wellness Wisdom that Works. She has 10 years of experience in public health leading and facilitating community-based, health promotion initiatives along with 5 years working in human resource management in non-profit, manufacturing, medical and professional office environments. She also has firsthand knowledge regarding the value and process of building successful workplace wellness programs after spending the last 6 years leading these initiatives in her own family’s business and for other business clients. Contact Carol today for a free consultation on how your business can foster a positive culture of health and well-being!