Workplace Wellness in Lincoln, NE – 2018
A focus on wellness in the workplace has become increasingly prevalent in organizations of all types and sizes, from SMBs to multi-million dollar corporations.
As individuals, it’s important to pay attention to our health and wellness in all aspects of our lives. Since much of our time is spent at work, it only makes sense that we are mindful of supporting behaviors that promote good health as well as modifying or avoiding those that compromise or negatively affect our health. Even committing to changing something small is a step in the right direction.
For employers, as you’re probably already aware to some extent, there are a wealth of benefits tied to having a healthy workforce. Doing what you can to support good habits in the workplace and offering programs or incentives that promote health and wellness are both well-advised.
Kristina Saunders, APRN, NP-C, CDE with Honor Health & Wellness, provides a few ideas for employers to consider. “Offering incentive programs for obtaining health screenings and other preventative health services gets great results. I have worked with employers who collaborate with their insurance provider to incorporate incentives into their offerings. When employees complete a health screening, they receive a specified amount of money on a card that can be used towards their deductible or copays. Or, offer to pay a portion of a gym membership.
Arranging for opportunities to have activities that promote health and wellness take place at your worksite is another course of action you could take. This might include influenza vaccines, lunch-hour exercise groups, chair massages, etc. Or, offer to host meetings that encourage healthy behaviors, such as lunch and learns or demonstrations conducted by local experts who provide healthy offerings.
Lastly, allow flexibility and practice sensitivity when employees need time off for appointments and illness. After all, if you have one employee report to work ill because they fear repercussions of absence, you risk having several others exposed and out for illness, not to mention the decrease in productivity when an employee reports to work ill. Self-care, as well as mental health, are still the most overlooked aspects of wellness in the workplace. Develop a culture of sensitivity and safety, not only in the physical environment, but also in relationships between coworkers and employees/management.”
Also touching on insurance options offered to employees, she notes, “Employers MUST pay attention to the health plans they are selecting for their employees. Choosing a plan based on low cost that does not support employees’ health by charging high copays and deductibles, not covering medications that have been shown to lead to improved outcomes when compared to less expensive alternatives, or excluding benefits and services that could allow an individual to optimally manage a chronic disease will not lead to a healthy staff, especially in the long run, when access to preventative care is necessary.”
As for individuals, Saunders lists the following points of emphasis: “Move more! Get up every 30 minutes and walk around the office. See if your employer can accommodate a standing desk. Enlist your coworkers to join you for walks on breaks and over lunch. Bring your lunch to work, and be sure to include fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. Drink 8 glasses or water per day. If you must consume caffeinated beverages, drink one additional glass of water for every caffeinated drink consumed. Stretch at the beginning of your day at the end of the day. Take mini meditation breaks when able; concentrate on deep breathing or use guided meditation recordings. There are several free apps available.”
In agreement on a few items just mentioned, Dennis Varley with The Body Shoppe adds, “Pre-work stretching at minimum, and possibly even light workout beforehand to get the day started, is highly recommended. Providing chair massage in the workplace is gaining popularity among employers and it’s definitely something that employees appreciate. There have even been studies done that show the benefits of chair massage in the workplace, particularly linking it to improved brainpower, increased productivity, and decreased stress and anxiety. The best time to schedule this would be mid-day. The Body Shoppe offers corporate chair massages at a discounted price.”
Also touching on the importance of getting up and moving around throughout the work day, Nancy Hopkins with Physicians WEIGHT LOSS Centers advises, “It’s proven that spending the whole day sitting will eventually take a toll on one’s health. But so many people do just that without noticing or being aware that it’s a problem. Simply encouraging employees to make sure to take a break at specific intervals, during which time they engage in some form of moderate physical activity, will be a nudge in the right direction. Just getting up and going outdoors for a 10-15 minute walk does wonders. In addition to the exercise and a breath of fresh air to clear your mind and reenergize, sunlight is a great source of vitamin D, another essential nutrient that provides great health benefits.
That being said, no amount of exercise will counteract the negative effects of a poor diet. To help with that, we specialize in putting together customized meal plans as well as providing ongoing support through recommendations and counseling as needed. As a medically-guided facility, we’re uniquely situated to offer a host of services to individuals and at the company level. Our team is able to come alongside a company and provide options for what would make the most sense and have the most impact, and to support the objectives they put in place.
Maintaining good health is about making good choices. If your employees don’t know what they should be doing, and there’s no one to help them figure it out or encourage them to do the things that support a healthy lifestyle, their habits won’t change. Employers can play a part in influencing their employees to make good choices, which in turn is beneficial to them. Offerings in the workplace that support health and wellness are important, and thinking outside the box will make you stand out. In a time when retention of the best and brightest employees is critical, you need to show your employees that you care about them as people.”
Natasha Plooster with Eat Fit Go further emphasizes, “Nutrition is so important. Employers can create incentives for bringing lunch to work, or better yet, cater a healthy lunch for employees! We can provide the perfect meal for any team member. Low carb, paleo, vegetarian, etc.–it doesn’t matter what the diet is, we have you covered. We are able to feed teams ranging from 15 to 500 people by providing individual meals, hot for immediate consumption or cold to allow flexibility in a busy workday. Let’s be honest, not everyone wants to eat their lunch between 12-1 p.m., nor is that time frame always going to be ideal. We love to work with teams to deliver a plan that fits you and your company’s needs.
Companies are also getting active together, and this push towards community wellness is so refreshing to see. We love the being a part of this healthy movement and are ecstatic to fuel this revolution!
Even something small like creating a step challenge to motivate people to move around during the day will have a positive impact. Since accountability leads to better outcomes, consider making some of your activities, events or initiatives team-oriented. It will double as a team-building exercise!”
At the individual level, she advises, “Sleep, drink water, move every 30 minutes, and plan your meals.
Proper sleep gets people ready for the day ahead, instead of waking up tired and cranky. Drinking water throughout the day will help keep energy levels up and keeps the body working properly. Dehydration can cause hunger, headaches, irritability, and keeps the brain from functioning to the best of its ability. Moving around, even if it’s just a lap around the office or filling up your water bottle, is a great way to get the blood pumping, which will help keep you awake and energized all day. Having a plan for food sets you up for success as opposed to having no plan and going with what everyone else is doing. Going out for lunch or happy hour adds up at the end of the week!
Good nutrition has a ripple effect in the other important areas mentioned too. If you eat right, typically you sleep well, wake up feeling rested, your clothes fit better, and your body has fewer aches and pains. Proper nutrition allows everything else to work the way it should.
If you can get your team eating quality foods and moving throughout the day, as an employer, you will have a very healthy team.”
With the rising cost of insurance and other challenges that exist with access to affordable healthcare, there are plenty of disruptors in the industry who are identifying ways they can better serve individuals and employers in our community alike.
Take the relatively new Direct Primary Care model, for example. “In today’s economy, it is very difficult if not nearly impossible for small businesses to offer a health care benefits package to their employees due to the rising costs,” explains Todd Johnson, MD with Access Family Medicine. “Direct Primary Care was designed to help employers offer an extra benefit to their employee package without jeopardizing their business. At Access Family Medicine, we offer small business owners one low flat monthly rate for their employees to receive Primary Care Services. We are finding that employees are thrilled with this benefit. It is not an expense coupled with premiums, deductibles or copays. Your small business and your employees will no longer have to worry about the rising cost of their health insurance due to submitting claims for primary care needs. Direct Primary Care is designed around basic finance principles; pay for what you can afford and ensure what you cannot afford or predict.
Here are a few examples of the benefits your employees will have as members at Access Family Medicine:
- Low flat monthly rate for your employees; we will also extend this rate to their spouses and families if they would like to sign them up as well.
- Unlimited access to your physician.
- Same-day and next-day appointments.
- Full access to virtual medicine via phone, email, text, webcam and more.
- Wholesale labs, imaging, and medications at up to 90% off the retail price.
Promoting health and wellness in the workplace is exactly what Access Family Medicine was designed to do. As I previously mentioned, it is very difficult for small business owners to compete with larger companies when it comes to offering a benefits package. Because we offer low monthly membership rates for small business owners, they can offer health CARE to their employees. With access to their physician in a variety of ways, this gives employees the flexibility to address an issue from where ever they may be, oftentimes without having to leave the office or worksite. Our small business owners really like our model and what we have to offer their employees; they realize keeping their workers healthy and at work is very beneficial for their businesses.
As a primary care provider, our focus is on prevention. We work with each patient, focusing on their needs, in order for them to be their most optimal self.”
Dr. Johnson goes on to mention, “Creating a work environment that not only promotes productivity for the business, but one that also promotes health and wellness of the individuals who work there, is critical for employers to consider when designing their work environments.
Employers should consider some of the following:
- An abundance of natural light.
- Ergonomically-correct seating at the desk as well as the correct computer keyboard and monitor heights.
- Background noise/music–adding something other than phones ringing and people talking can lessen the stress that builds up over the work day.
- Allow frequent breaks–avoid having your employees sitting for excessive amounts of time on end, even if it is just a 1-minute walk to the drinking fountain and back.
As an employer, it is important to lead by example and demonstrate health and wellness yourself, as well as to encourage your employees to take good care of themselves. This involves eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of sleep and exercise. It is also very viable for individuals to see their Primary Care Doctor annually. A routine exam will help ensure that necessary measures are being taken to help prevent a major medical issue from potentially occurring. This may include managing high blood pressure, diabetes or stress. It is a well-known fact that healthy people are productive people.”
Although just the tip of the iceberg with respect to what you could incorporate into your own work life or in the workplace for the benefit of your employees, it’s an excellent starting point. We encourage you to consider the recommendations provided by our local experts and do what you can to get on board with anything that supports the health and wellness of you and your fellow colleagues and coworkers!