Whether you oversee a handful of employees or thousands, you are likely aware of the financial and productivity implications of your employees’ health and wellness. Even minor employee health issues can affect production schedules, client relations, morale, and retention – and impact your bottom line. Here CEO Today hears from Dr. J. Jordan Romano at Massachusetts General Hospital on the top 5 steps to striking the perfect balance within your firm.
There is a deep connection between your employees’ lives and your role as their employer: the average UK worker spends one third of their waking hours at the office. How you support staff wellness is an (often-overlooked) opportunity to foster a culture in which employees feel valued and more committed to the company’s success.
In my role at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston, US), Harvard’s largest and oldest teaching hospital, I spend most of my time caring for patients who are corporate executives. My team specializes in delivering comprehensive annual exams and world-class care for corporations to ensure their staff are well. In our years partnering with companies on employee health, we have identified areas to consider when determining your corporate wellness strategy.
- Keep age in mind:
The healthcare needs of your 20- to 30-something employees will center on seasonal flu shot compliance, stress management, family planning, children’s health, reducing overindulgence in alcohol, and promoting healthy sleep, exercise and eating habits.
For employees in the 40-55 age range, disease incidence and age-related risk factors become increasingly prevalent and should prompt cancer screenings, routine wellness exams and strategies to manage conditions that cause comorbidities such as diabetes and obesity. High blood pressure and high cholesterol develop more frequently at this age, as do the health effects of stress (particularly as many employees at this age shoulder the dual role of caregiver for children and aging parents).
For older employees (55+), a focus on resiliency and longevity are central considerations. Your help to guide employees towards healthy habits and resiliency training is as important as promoting access to more frequent, comprehensive health checkups and risk-factored screenings.
- Bring healthcare to the workplace:
Seasonal flu shot clinics, blood pressure checks and screening lab checks can be offered on-site at your company’s offices. “Lunch and learns” and time for activities around wellness, healthy eating, and work-life balance recognize the holistic needs of your teams. By bringing healthcare to the workplace, you save time for everyone, promote preventative health measures, and minimize the downstream impact to business productivity.
- Pay attention to mental health:
Work-related anxiety and depression are costly. Per the OECD, mental health issues cost the United Kingdom roughly £70 billion annually in lost productivity at work, health care expenses, and benefits payments. It is important to ensure your company fosters an environment where employees have a robust and confidential option to seek mental health care. Whatever the cause, untreated mental health issues can result in workplace discord, retention issues, and burnout, as well as severe manifestations such as substance abuse, violence, and even suicide. This, of course, can damage morale across departments. You may find the best approach is to ensure all employees have access to annual wellness exams or an Employee Assistance Program.
- Reward employee tenure or seniority:
Consider creating a special benefit for your C-Suite staff, board members, and long-term staff in the form of an annual Executive Health Physical. This type of program is an opportunity for individuals to receive a comprehensive health evaluation from a team of senior physician specialists, and is more thorough and personalized than one can expect from a brief annual check-up. These customized assessments are thoughtfully designed around the patient’s medical history, national medical association guidelines, and the patient’s personal health interests. The Executive Physical is typically completed in a 1- or 2-day appointment itinerary to minimize time away from the office. Beyond the practicality of scheduling and the physical benefit of the exam, these experiences show star employees that your investment in them is more than their paycheck: you are invested in their wellbeing.
- Partner with experts in employee wellness:
This is not a path you must walk alone. Numerous healthcare organizations such as hospitals, non-profits, and start-ups are dedicated to helping companies implement corporate wellness programs. Consider collaborating with a well-reputed hospital or a company that specializes in employee health management. My team here at Massachusetts General Hospital partners with companies in Boston, the USA, and globally, and cares for a number of patients from the United Kingdom. We are happy to answer questions or help guide you on this important path. For more information, visit www.massgeneral.org/executivehealthservices.
Dr. J. Jordan Romano is a Board Certified Internist with the Center for International & Specialized Healthcare Services at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US, where he cares for executives and patients from around the world.