Wellness & Self-Care
A wellness and self-care program can improve the present state of health and reduce the risk of illness and injury by affecting the lifestyle choices of employees and facilitating more meaningful interaction with healthcare providers.
A wellness and self-care program provides appropriate health information to employees when they can best act on it. A multidisciplinary team of experts provides information on:
- medical condition (tests, diagnosis, treatment)
- nutrition & fitness
- medication (effects and side-effects)
- accessing counselling resources
- accessing community resources
- accessing medical resources (public and private)
Most benefit programs spend very little on preventing poor health. Medical expenses are eligible if they treat an illness or injury (not prevent it). The focus is on disease management instead of disease prevention. A wellness and self-care program costs approximately $1.50 monthly per employee.
Eliminate Risky Habits
- smoking cessation
- drinking cessation
- treat eating disorders
- avoid fatty foods, caffeine & salt
- safety training
- nutritious diet
- aerobic exercise
- proper rest
- back care
- health screening
- stress management
- time management
- conflict resolution
- positive relationships
It can take 20 weeks to replace a bad habit with a good one.
Employers can encourage good habits by making the choice easy to make.
- hotline to wellness and self-care experts
- audit the menu of your cafeteria
- subsidize accessible fitness programs
- provide time management software
- promote counselling services
- regular lunch and learn days
- disseminate information from health associations
It is critical that the wellness program be convenient, done on company time and have participation incentives. You can provide tools and support healthy choices, but employees want to do wellness in their own way rather than have it prescribed to them. They need the autonomy to decide how to go about achieving their goals.
First Steps for a Small Business
A great starting place is providing healthy food and beverage choices for your staff while they are at work:
- Bottled water to support hydration and replace caffeinated or sweetened beverages.
- Healthy snack foods (fruit, nuts, veggies, protein bars, yogurt) at low prices to support employee’s efforts to eat healthier and make healthier food choices on a cost-recovery, honor payment system.
The next opportunity is helping employees help themselves:
- Employee assistance program to provide quick access to professional counselling in an effort to resolve stressful situations. The cost ranges from $3 to $5 monthly employee based on the number of face-to-face sessions provided.
- Lifestyle development subsidies for fitness, weight management and addictions (nicotine, alcohol, drugs, gambling, etc.). A cost sharing approach (i.e. 50% of the program cost) with an annual maximum (i.e. $500 per employee) enhances employee commitment and manages costs.
- Health assessments provide employees with the information they need to improve their health and provides the employer with aggregate (non-identifiable) data that can be used to improve the relevance of the wellness program. (approximately $0.90 monthly employee).
Finally, specific support services based on types of illnesses:
- Second medical opinion service confirms the diagnosis and treatment of serious illnesses and explain the implications and choices to the patient. (approximately $1.81 monthly employee).
- Cancer care support service provides emotional and educational support to employees who are dealing with the impact of cancer. (approximately $2.77 monthly employee).
- Mental health support service provides educational resources to help employees who are dealing with mental health issues. (approximately $0.62 monthly employee).