Beyond attracting and hiring qualified job candidates and onboarding and training staff into an organization, there are many steps that employers can take to promote both safety and the continued wellness and productivity of their workforce. A process to support and engage your workforce that focuses on safety and wellness can help employees adopt a healthier lifestyle, both at home and at the workplace.
Employers have long recognized the importance of programs to retain talented and experienced employees. Increasingly, employers are also adding workplace wellness programs as a tool to help promote their employees’ overall wellness.1
According to the 2015 Travelers Business Risk Index, 60% of U.S. businesses worry about medical cost inflation. Given that the average worker can spend up to half of their waking hours on the job, employers are recognizing the role they can play in promoting the health and wellness of their employees, including helping them prevent or manage some chronic health conditions.
An Expanding Focus on Wellness
While most companies offer general safety training and are beginning to embrace the importance of a culture of safety, health and wellness programs are often less defined. Companies are beginning to consider implementing wellness programs to support the health and well-being of their employees.
“By considering employee safety and wellness holistically, business owners have exciting opportunities to reduce the potential for accidents, improve return-to-work outcomes and better manage overall medical costs,” says Marty Henry, Senior Vice President, Risk Control. “For example, we’re working with many of our customers with trucking operations to encourage them to address the importance of driver health and wellness and consider the impact that may have on overall loss and medical costs.”
Creating a Program to Support and Engage Employees
Supporting and engaging your existing workforce includes promoting safety and encouraging a healthy lifestyle, both inside and outside of the workplace. There are three key elements to consider:
- Injury and illness prevention programs: These programs can identify common injuries and illnesses related to the specific position, and recommend preventive measures.
- Safety leadership and safety culture: This is an opportunity for the organization’s leadership to lead by example, demonstrating the importance of a culture of safety across all operations.
- General safety training: This includes many of the traditional safety practices and programs that employers offer.
Following an injury on the job, it is important to have a plan for returning employees to work as soon as they are medically able to return. How you manage injuries can impact business continuity. Travelers has a Corridor of CareSM post-injury management process designed to assist employers in supporting the injured employees from the moment they are injured through their return to full duty.
A transitional duty program can help:
- Employees to receive prompt, quality medical care.
- Keep employees at work, allowing the company to get meaningful, productive work done while the employee recovers.
- The employee, employee’s medical provider, employer and insurance professional to work together to help the employee to return to work as soon as possible.
Health and Wellness Programs
One study found that half of all adults in the U.S. – 117 million people – have one or more chronic health conditions and/or illnesses2. Common chronic health conditions can include, but are not limited to, obesity, diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. By offering wellness programs in the workplace, companies can help create a healthier workforce, improve productivity and potentially reduce the cost of medical claims3.
There are two key components of a health and wellness program: helping employees identify and manage chronic health conditions, for example, by offering information to educate the employee about various chronic conditions, and helping employees to prevent future health conditions and illness by promoting healthy behavior, such as exercise and smoking cessation. For more information on starting a workplace wellness program, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
Health and wellness programs are most effective when they are customized to the specific workforce or to the individual employer’s needs. Programs range from weight loss and healthy eating initiatives to on-site flu clinics. Employees can also bring home some of the safe and healthy behaviors they learn at work, so they can continue their healthy living in both their personal and professional lives.
1 The Nation’s Health, http://thenationshealth.aphapublications.org/content/43/8/1.3.full.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/overview/.
3 Katherine Baicker, David Cutler and Zirui Song, Workplace Wellness Programs Can Generate Savings. Health Affairs, 29, no.2 (2010):304-311.(published online January 14, 2010:10.1377/hlthaff.2009.0626). http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/29/2/304.full.pdf+html.
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