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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.