Mental health issues are often overlooked by coworkers or swept under the rug by employers. That means many workers are battling these issues alone. One of the most memorable stories I heard during my years in worksite wellness starts with a training class. The instructor was training their employees on a new computer system for a week. She noticed one employee kept to herself, seemed withdrawn and would always be late coming back from lunches and breaks. Normally your first reaction would be to reprimand the employee, but this instructor went above and beyond. She found the employee in the restroom crying and when she approached her and offered to help, the employee said she was fine. After spending a little time with her it was revealed that she was having some family trouble. The stress of the crisis affected her and her work. They found a counselor for her through their EAP and this helped her work through this stress before it became a bigger issue.
Millennials are those born in the early 1980s up to the early 2000s. According to the US Census Bureau Population Estimate in April 2016, millennials are fast becoming the biggest percentage of the workforce and a leading influence on the employers’ health plans and employee wellness programs. Nine out of ten millennials have health insurance and 85% of them are employed. *
Workplace wellness programs are constantly evolving, not only from the planning and strategy of the programs but also from the compliance aspect. Last year was an active year in for the EEOC. They had two new regulations passed in regards to employee wellness program that refer to the guidelines from the ADA and GINA. Both of these regulations passed last year and became effective for plan years beginning on or after January 1, 2017.
The first rule provides guidance around the employer-sponsored wellness programs as they pertain to employees with health restrictions and disabilities (ADA) and non-employee/spouses health information (GINA). It states that programs must be voluntary and an employer cannot deny access to the health plan if an employee refuses to participate. Reasonable accommodations must be available to employees with disabilities that are unable to participate or complete the program.
It’s the beginning of a new year and you and your Wellness Committee have strategized your company’s health improvement plan. You are feeling confident that you will address the main health risks in your employee demographics. Of course, we know it is impossible to hit all the topics needed within a wellness program, but are you covering some topics that could be very detrimental to their health and your claims? I am referring to gaps in care for preventative, age appropriate, screenings such as mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA screenings, skin cancer screenings, dental and vision exams.
Some employers have gone above and beyond to address this situation, such as giving employees a chance to “call in well”. This program gave the employee 4 hours PTO to use for a preventative visit (with verification required). Another program would incentivize the employee with points or gift cards when they show proof of screenings and immunizations completed.
As the workforce is showing a significant number of older workers, are they being proactive about their health? One of the best programs that I ran across in my years in workplace wellness was at a local school system. They started a “Mention Prevention” Campaign and reminded the employees about the services available to them for free and celebrated success stories. Not only did they post the educational materials on their intranet, they send out postcards with the information. They had pictures of breast cancer survivors holding a very large number, that number represented the number of years they have been a survivor and told their story of early detection and the importance of screenings. They invested in posters and worked with their carrier to make it easy for the employees to find what screenings they should be doing and what was covered and the in-network providers.
To give another example of closing the gap on prevention, I was at a client’s biometric event. After a few years of the biometric screenings they decided, because they had an older workforce population, to offer PSA screenings and thyroid screenings to employees over 50. (This is an option with most on-site biometrics vendors.) The next year a gentleman came up to us and thanked us. He said he was 57 and never went to the doctor because he thought he was healthy. Last year at the biometrics event he took advantage of the free PSA screenings and the results showed an elevated PSA. He followed up with a doctor and was told he had early stage prostate cancer. It was caught it in time to be treatable and he was grateful to his employer for offering this service.
It is stories like these that make employee wellness such an important part of today’s workplace culture.
I know what you are thinking; we don’t need a new logo. Our company has had the same logo for generations and we have built a reputation around it and our customers relate to our logo. And yes you would be correct, but that is not the logo I was referring to in the title. I was referring to a branded logo for your wellness program.
Imagine if you had a Wellness Logo that your employees could identify with and know that your company is committed to their health improvement. A logo that shows what you are trying to accomplish through the wellness program and to create a sustainable culture of healthy lifestyles and healthy employees. The employees will relate more to future communications branded with the logo and it will help distinguish your wellness program communications from the multiple emails and flyers they receive regarding benefit, compliance, payroll, etc.
To take it one step further, you can order branded merchandise that the employees can use on a daily basis and as an additional benefit this will add exposure to your wellness program. Examples of these branded items could be shirts, hats, water bottles, lunch bags, resistance bands, etc. You can either distribute these items to each employee, give to employees when they participate in an activity, or use as prizes for wellness champs. The more they see the wellness logo, the more they will accept the new healthy culture that you are working towards.
Your logo should represent your goals for your company and for your employee wellness program. Putting a jpeg of an apple with your company name is not an effective wellness logo but a car dealership that uses “Driving to good health” would be a good example. If you need assistance with designing or ideas, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy New Year and happy new logo!
With the holiday season approaching, you and your employees are probably going to consume extra calories, fat grams, and alcohol that your body doesn’t need or want. Many catered dishes served at Holiday Office Parties are loaded with fat, sodium, and preservatives that can add weight on quickly. Since you strive for a healthier employee population ten months of the year don’t give in to unhealthy options now.
Start new healthy holiday traditions for your office:
- If you want to take your employees out for a holiday dinner celebration, look for healthy restaurants that specialize in organic cooking or ask for a limited menu with healthy options. You can limit the alcohol consumption by giving limited drink tickets instead of an open bar.
- If you are planning the party during office hours, host a “Healthy Holidays” Pot-Luck instead. The employees can bring in healthy dishes along with their recipes to share. A prize incentive for the healthiest dish can always add a little competition.
- Instead of a formal party, host an event that involves more activity and less consumption of fatting foods and alcohol. Activities such as a team bowling night at a local bowling alley, or a family picnic with fun tailgating-like events (lawn darts, corn hole game, bocce ball, Cam Jam Frisbee game, scavenger hunt), or plan a coed kick ball tournament where all the teams dress festive for the event.
- In lieu of the traditional office Christmas party, plan a “Give Back to the Community” day and teams of employees can volunteer. Have healthy snacks for their breaks and celebrate their accomplishments. There are website that will help you locate corporate volunteer opportunities: Points of Light or Habitat for Humanity.
These options will help make wellness part of the culture twelve months a year. On behalf of W3 Insurance, we hope you and your employees have a safe and happy holiday season. If you need assistance with ideas for a healthy holiday planning, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com.
The American Heart Association publishes free guide of how to eat healthier and stay active through the holidays. Feel free to distribute this to your employees. American Heart Association’s Annual Holiday Healthy Eating Guide
With the stress of the holidays, your employees may need some assistance with a variety of life challenges. This is a good time to promote your company’s Employee Assistance Program and let the employees know that they have an employer that cares for them. Most EAPs are designed to help with many facets of stress management, including mental health, substance abuse, work-life balance, marriage, family and relationship issues, and legal or financial concerns.
The services through your company’s EAP are confidential and the employees can access them in the comfort of their own home through a website or a phone call. It is a win, win for everyone. Once the employee reaches out for help managing their concerns it will mean they are not missing time away from work, their productivity will not decline due to stress, the chance of a possible workplace accident due lack of concentration will decrease, and the employee will be more likely to stay with your company and therefore decreasing turnover rates.
Since we can all agree that this service is vitally important to the health of your business, the next phase is to plan your marketing campaign. A multi-media approach is the best strategy which entails digital, print, and personal promotion. The personal promotion from a manager or fellow coworker, also known as word-of-mouth advertising, is the best promotion because they can explain the concept and handle the concerns and questions about the EAP’s offerings. I have listed several promotional examples below:
||Posters/flyers||Promote at staff meetings, have managers promoting within their own departments.|
|Intranet promotion||Table tents in breakrooms||
Be aware of any changes in behavior in your employees and remind them of the services available.
|Employee facebook page||Payroll stuffers||
Health Fairs- invite EAP representative
Share success stories
After reviewing several studies of EAP utilization, statistics have shown that a very small percentage of employees and families are using this service. With education about EAPs and proper promotion you can increase awareness of the offerings and decrease the skeptic’s concerns about confidentiality and stigmas associated with mental health.
Let’s plan to make this a stress free holiday for your employees and your workplace. If you need assistance with your EAP promotion, please feel free to contact me, firstname.lastname@example.org. If your company does not offer an EAP your WWW representative can obtain plan details and cost for your review.
This is the month you start to see a lot of pink; pink shoes, pink ribbons, pink hats and shirts with pink ribbons embossed into the fabric. No matter how commercialized the message has become please use these subtle reminders as inspiration. Be inspired to spread the message of breast cancer awareness and early prevention within your organization. There are many ways you can promote and incentivize these cancer screenings.
- Encourage employees to wear pink for awareness. Have a competition for the best pink outfit.
- Have pink promotional materials available for the employees to wear- pink boas, ribbons, bracelets, shirts, hats, ties, etc.
- Offer PTO for doctor’s appointments or screenings.
- Celebrate survivors and their stories.
- Host a lunch and learn about breast cancer detection, screenings, prevention, and advocacy.
- Educate your employees on the participating providers and facilities in their area where they can go for well women exams, mammograms, ultrasounds, etc.
- Distribute educational materials about self-exams and age appropriate screenings.
- Incentivize employees for completing an age appropriate screening.
- Post a link to a CDC podcast on your intranet about Breast Cancer.
Another factor that could affect your employees is the stress, either the stress of being a cancer patient or the stress of caring for a family member that is a cancer patient. These employees may benefit from resources that they do not know about.
Promote support and comfort:
- Promote your EAP.
- Find services that can assist with them; for example carrier resources, community resources, or advocacy groups.
- American Cancer Society’s Reach to Recover program helps people and caregivers cope with a breast cancer diagnosis.
- Offer a quiet room for them to go during breaks or lunches.
Many workplace toolkits that can assist with promotion and education are available through your carrier, Susan G Komen workplace website, CDC resources, and American Cancer Society. If you need further assistance with a cancer prevention program, please contact me at email@example.com.
Even the healthiest person can get the flu. The best defense against your employees getting the flu is to promote flu vaccines. One outbreak in your office can spread quickly causing a disruption to your business. The good news about the ACA is that insurance carriers will cover this vaccine as a preventive service. In accordance with the contractual obligations, employees need to go to a participating retail location for this to be processed correctly. The participating retail locations are listed on the carrier websites under Participating Pharmacy/vaccines.
Whether you schedule an on-site flu vaccine clinic or promote locations for the employees to get the vaccine, now is a good time to start planning. If you are not sure if your group qualifies for an on-site clinic or if you need assistance with promotional materials please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.
Marketing is the next important piece to a successful flu vaccine season. The more forms of promotion that you utilize, the better participation you will get. Suggestions include: texts, e-cards, flyers, stickers, table tents, posters, and even social media (facebook, twitter, linkedin). The CDC even has a twitter and you can follow them at @FluGov for the latest information about the flu.
Health insurance carriers offer many options for your employees to become better healthcare consumers and make more intelligent decisions about their healthcare. Promoting the information to your employees is vital. If the information is not made available to them, they will probably not utilize these great options. At Open Enrollment meetings these topics may have been discussed, but the employees were overloaded with data and probably did not retain it all.
I suggest implementing a marketing plan to promote these services either monthly, quarterly, or bi-annually. Your marketing should include multiple layers of marketing such as flyers, posters, table tents in break rooms, payroll stuffers, lunch and learns, webinars, social media blasts, links on intranet, or emails. Below are services available, but they may differ depending on the carrier, the group size, and whether you are fully insured or self-funded.
- Prescription drug services
- Find a provider/facility
- Healthcost estimator
- Preventive care
- Health coaching
- Advocacy programs
- Use carriers’ websites and apps for access to insurance cards, benefits, claims, and much more.
- Wellness discounts
If you are unsure of your carrier’s offerings or would like assistance to prepare this information, please contact me and I will be happy to assist you.