What Makes Healthy Companies Healthy?

Most of us spend more time at work than we do at home and research has proven that the modern workplace is not the healthiest place. Due to too much time sitting at a desk, eating poorly and the constant stress, today’s employees suffer from back pain, weight problems and a variety of stress-related disorders, among many other maladies.

Entrepreneur.com recently explored what makes a healthy company healthy for their article, “How the 100 Healthiest Companies in America Handle Wellness Differently Than You Do.” Tapping into an annual report of the “Healthiest 100 Workplaces in America” done by health analytics software company Springbuk, they noted some characteristics that healthy workplaces had in common.

Wellness needs to be a core value

Healthy companies emphasized wellness as a core value. Entrepreneur.com noted a difference between those companies creating a wellness program because it’s trendy versus prioritizing employee health. If wellness isn’t a core value, it will be pushed to the side and forgotten when times get tough.

“…healthy employees are more creative, passionate and productive….”

One company on Springbuk’s list, The Starr Group, a Milwaukee-based insurance and risk solutions company, incorporated health and wellness into its core values, mission and vision. “We have experienced first-hand that healthy employees are more creative, passionate and productive, which equates to better customer service and retention, as well as a more profitable company overall,” said Mary Starr, EVP .”

Health is about more than the physical body

Health of the mind and the body are tied together. A person can run marathons and eat healthy, yet derail his or her overall wellness by not taking care of the mind.

“…29% of those with a medical disorder had a comorbid mental health condition…”

Unfortunately, Springbuk’s report found that just 8.5% of the 8,000 companies analyzed focus on mental health. A wellness program can’t be completely successful without supporting employees’ mental health, as well as physical health.

Our experience at Espyr has shown that mental health is a greater concern than many may think. Mental and physical health often go hand-in-hand. According to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), more than 68% of adults surveyed with a mental disorder had at least one medical disorder. And 29% of those with a medical disorder had a comorbid (the presence of two chronic diseases or conditions simultaneously) mental health condition.

Workplace stress is a real issue when it comes to mental health. In their 2017 Work Health Survey Report, Mental Health America reports:

  • 80% of employees stated that workplace stress affected their personal relationships
  • 35% of employees “always” miss 3 – 5 days of work a month because of workplace stress

Fortunately, research also shows that instituting the proper wellness initiatives focusing on both physical and mental health – from exercise facilities to naps to a comprehensive EAP (Employee Assistance Program) – leads to healthier employees and a healthier bottom line.

Entrepreneur.com went on to provide a couple of great ideas to get employees on board:

Take advantage of wearables

As part of a university study, Buffalo, N.Y.-based insurance firm Walsh Duffield started offering wearables to employees. The program allowed employees to gain a deeper understanding of their wellness level and helped land Walsh Duffield at No. 42 on Springbuk’s list.

“Pre-wearables, people weren’t able to see how simple movement translates into success,” said wellness coordinator Courtney K. Moskal. “People are now more motivated to take that extra lap around their neighborhood after work to reach their goal and understand what it might take to maintain or lose weight.”

While some startups can’t afford to buy top-of-the-line wearables, there are affordable alternatives. Almost every smartphone, for instance, has a built-in pedometer or allows you to download one for free.

Offer the right incentives

Not everyone is athletic or into fitness, but they can still participate in wellness programs. They just need a bit of incentive. The best corporate wellness programs offer a wide range of incentives to get employees moving.

To get employees to reach fitness goals – miles walked, steps or hours in the gym — some companies offer insurance premium reductions, some give cash and some offer gift cards.

Some companies, like San Francisco-based health coaching platform Optimity, let employees choose their own motivation to exercise. “We provide a full catalog of gift cards — Starbucks, Amazon, Sephora, Target, etc. — as well as customized rewards like trophies, company swag, paid days off and health-spending account contributions,” said CEO Jane Wang.

Entrepreneur.com found that wellness initiatives are paying off for those companies who approached wellness the right way. Of the companies that track financial ROI, more than one in 10 reported seeing $2 to $3 back on every dollar they invested in employee health.

If your company is developing a wellness program and you want to be sure that you have the right EAP component, call Espyr anytime at 866-570-3479 or click here and we’ll follow up with you.

The Benefit That Retains Talent and Cuts Cost?

You’re In For A Surprise. It’s always a challenge to attract and retain good employees. But in times of high employment – like today – the challenge is even greater. Of course, in any economy, you’re still limited in terms of benefits; when it comes to salaries, health insurance, 401(k) matching and the like, there’s only so much money in the bucket.

Fortunately, there’s one often-overlooked benefit that can provide a true retention and recruiting advantage over your competition – a comprehensive EAP (Employee Assistance Program). That’s right. A comprehensive EAP, implemented correctly, can yield surprising benefits, including decreased healthcare costs, reduced absenteeism and a happier, more productive workforce. Increasingly, employers and employees are recognizing the value; on their 2018 list of ten perks that attract and retain employees, BenefitsPro.com places EAPs just behind Snacks and Coffee, Flexible Work Schedules and Working from Home.

The Behavioral Health Drain

Everyone understands how physical illness in the workforce can lead to employee and employer hardships, financial and otherwise. In much the same way, behavioral health issues can be a huge drain on productivity, as well as overall healthcare costs. Of the 1,500-plus workers interviewed by the American Psychological Association (APA) for the 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, one in three reported being chronically stressed on the job, and less than half of the respondents felt their company supported employee well-being.

Not All EAPs Are Alike

Any EAP can address behavioral issues, but a comprehensive plan can do more, and do it better. Some leading edge EAPs, for example, are using data analytics to proactively address behavioral health issues, which leads to increased employee engagement and reduced healthcare costs. Addressing the issues, though, is more than a trend; it’s a necessity. “Employers who understand the link between employee well-being and organizational performance,” says David Ballard, PsyD, MBA and head of the APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence, “are best positioned for success.”

But beware of the “free” EAP. While the goal of any EAP plan is to improve employee wellness by helping them deal with personal and work problems, not all plans are alike. Most of the free add-on plans offered by health insurance companies and brokers, in fact, contract with third-party providers with limited offerings and a reduced level of service. Employee care is not a priority; checking off the EAP box is. In addition, these plans are never truly free; employers are paying premiums as part of their overall package.

A comprehensive EAP plan offered by a specialty vendor is a very different animal. These providers are true partners in the behavioral health of your employees. They’ll help you with program marketing and employee awareness. They’ll help you address the stigma often associated with behavioral health issues. They’ll help you make the program work better. Plus, they have the experience and knowledge to help employees and their family members in a professional, clinically-appropriate manner.

The list of services offered by a comprehensive EAP is surprisingly extensive. And for employers watching their bottom line, these plans more than pay for themselves in increased employee productivity, improved retention, reduced absenteeism and reduced healthcare costs.

Features of a Comprehensive EAP

Just like there are comprehensive, best-in-class insurance plans, there are comprehensive, best-in-class EAPs. Make sure your EAP provider offers a full breadth of counseling, coaching, work/life balance and organizational support services, including:

  • Counseling and referral services by licensed counselors
  • Provider/employee matching and access to services in-person, telephonically, by video or via chat
  • Financial and legal consultations
  • Eldercare and childcare consultation, resources and referrals
  • Unlimited management consultation around formal referrals or other workplace issues
  • Identity theft recovery
  • Leadership coaching
  • Critical incident response services and reporting
  • Proactive awareness initiatives
  • Options like 24/7 HIPAA-compliant texting support, personal coaching, Video call doctor visits and more

Create Better Employees

Helping people live better, happier lives is only one of the benefits of providing a comprehensive EAP plan (although, admittedly, a big benefit). A decrease in problems and worries leads to an increase in productivity.

But there’s a bonus benefit to providing such a plan, whether employees find they need these services or not. When people feel valued, appreciated and cared for, they naturally become more empowered and motivated to do their best work. If you want a loyal and happy workforce, in other words, create a workplace that enables them to be their best.

Learn More

Want to be sure that you have the right EAP for your company?  Click here or call Espyr at 866-570-3479.