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Pillars of workplace wellness

Workplace wellness is increasingly becoming a necessity, rather than a choice. A wellness program should be an amalgamation of physical as well as mental wellness. Equally critical is finding the right health partner who can identify the diverse healthcare needs of employees, and deliver a customized end-to-end health program: Manasije Mishra, Managing Director, vHealth by Aetna

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A workplace culture sets the tone for its employees. When employees are encouraged to follow a healthy lifestyle, it not only helps them live a healthier life but also improves employer’s productivity. While the employees cannot be forced to do so, the objective is to drive a culture that motivates them to do so.

As per a recent ASSOCHAM report, lack of an effective employee wellness strategy is costing Indian organizations up to USD 20 billion a year. The report also states that only 48% of respondents’ company offers wellness program. In cases where wellness programs are offered, 62% believe the program needs improvement. In the meantime, healthcare costs continue to go up. The factors contributing to the rise include rising health insurance premiums, poor guidance about treatment options, inappropriate and wasteful procedures, new and expensive medical technologies and underuse of preventive services.

Strong workplace wellness programs bolster employee trust and help employees do their best at work. A well-designed employee wellness program can lead to a 25 percent reduction in health plan costs, sick leave, disability pay and worker’s compensation. An ideal employee wellness strategy addresses concerns at different stages of the healthcare journey - wellness, preventive and curative health. It should help them understand their health and health-related risks, provide guidance on adopting a healthy lifestyle, create social health programs that motivate them to stick to a healthy lifestyle, empowers them to access cost-effective and quality healthcare services at their convenience.


An employee wellness strategy should include the following pillars:


Access to primary health care for employees and their families

The absence of a robust primary care infrastructure in India leads to the tendency of symptoms being ignored, self-medicated or inappropriately treated until they become serious – often leading to higher costs and poor clinical outcome. In the UK, where primary care is very well established and GPs act as guides & gatekeepers, has the lowest medical costs in the OECD, with some of the best clinical outcomes.

In this scenario, Digital primary care can be an excellent solution. Experts say nearly 75% of all physician, urgent care, and emergency room visits are manageable remotely by phone or video call. Available at a nominal cost, telephone/video consultation can help employees and their family to get appropriate advice and treatment for any health concerns that include day to day health problems, management of chronic diseases, interpretation of diagnostic reports and advice on alternative treatment options. While this can deliver a great peace of mind to the employees and their family, it can help corporates reduce their claims/ medical expenses, absenteeism and productivity issues.


Health Risk assessment & management

Today, 80% of the employee health issues are chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiac problems, stroke & cancer. While every health risk demands a varied approach, it’s essential for the employer to identify these high-risk groups and strategize an appropriate intervention. With a right health partner and sophisticated tools, we can identify such risks at an early stage and empower them to manage with treatment that an individual employee can accept. This involves digital health risk assessment, combined with low-cost physical assessments and blood tests followed by proactive guidance and support through digitally enabled, remotely assessable, primary care doctors. Employers can also create fun programs that use peer pressure to encourage better lifestyle choices amongst their employees.


Tax efficient benefits

An urban Indian family spends around Rs.25,000 to 40,000 on day to day, out-patient health care. These expenses are incurred out of post-tax income. An out-patient program can provide health benefits. For example, a pre-paid medical package can allow employees access doctor consultations, health check-ups, medicines and can help them save between 50 – 70% on their out of pocket medical expenses.


Commitment to good health should start from your workplace

With the belief that the commitment to good health starts in the workplace, organizations have introduced innovative health initiatives like sit-to-stand workstations, flexible working hours, office fitness opportunities and healthy snack options. Some companies have invested onsite in medical rooms or clinics. These clinics tend to have in-experienced professionals and merely help comply with statutory guidelines. A digital health clinic with state-of-the-art diagnostic devices, trained paramedic staff and high bandwidth internet connection to facilitate online consultation with experienced telemedicine doctors can be a great advantage. A 2015 Towers Watson study shows that more 35% of surveyed organizations in the USA offer telemedicine services, with another 12% planning to in the next two years.

Workplace wellness is increasingly becoming a necessity, rather than a choice. A wellness program should be an amalgamation of physical as well as mental wellness. Equally critical is finding the right health partner who can identify diverse healthcare needs of employees, and deliver a customized end-to-end health program


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