More than ever in the corporate space, there is a strong demand for better wellness solutions. Employees are largely driving the workplace wellness shift as they are demanding more from their employers in regard to meeting their well-being needs. This calls for some reflection from employers, therefore, to challenge the “norms’ of well-being in their organization and begin to provide solutions that truly meet the needs of their employees.
Mitch Martens, Senior Wellness Manager for Population Health at Northern Arizona Healthcare, in a recent episode of the Edelheit Experience talks about how employers need to redefine their wellness projects with personalized and intentional solutions that meet the needs of their workers where they are.
Mitch starts by describing the conventional model of employee wellness as “this thing employers do to their workers from the position of a boss who knows what’s best for their workers,” with wellness programs completely initiated by the managers and employers and being forced down the workers’ throats. But the shift and the needed growth in employee wellness begins by first recognizing that wellness means different things for everyone, and employees have to call the shots when it comes to creating solutions for their needs.
For instance, your employees may not be showing up to your smoking cessation programs because that does not solve their deepest wellness needs at that time. For some, smoking may just be a way to get away from the stress of work or pressures from other areas of their lives, and forcing them to quit smoking without addressing those deep, present wellness concerns may be counterproductive.
“Where I see wellness evolving to is where employers will say, wait a minute, let’s allow the employees to decide what’s important to them and let us partner with them on their wellness path as opposed to us authoritatively shoving solutions down their throats,” Mitch said. “Wellbeing is personal, it's multidimensional, and it lives in the now.”
This underpins the subject of inclusion in wellness. In meeting employees’ needs where they are, solutions have to factor in employees’ cultural, racial/ethnic, and social differences. One solution may not work for everyone, even if it is aimed at achieving the same results everyone needs. Solutions need to fit an individual’s context for them to achieve any significant result.
Mitch further talks about tools his organization, Northern Arizona Healthcare, designed to meet the prevailing wellness needs of their teams. One of such is the bereavement boxes, aimed to help their employees cope with the death of loved ones during the pandemic. The bereavement box contains resources to help an employee grieve and effectively deal with the emotions that come with it.
Mitch also said Northern Arizona Healthcare is helping to rebuild a multispecialty hospital and other outpatient centers with a plan to create what it calls a wellness village that caters to all employees’ health and wellness needs in one place.
"I think most people know that going to a hospital usually feels yucky. I mean, unless you're going through a pregnancy, we associate hospitals with death, with pain, with difficulties, and with challenges. We [NAH] want to be a beacon of health, not just a four-walled building that solves your immediate problem and then pushes you out. We want to be this ecosystem of health and well-being to encourage longevity by creating a community and a space that magnetizes people to want to come together."
Mitch also talked about “wellness ninjas” in NAH, who are designated staff members that promote work-life wellness, helping employees deconstruct their work-life dynamics, identify the gaps in these areas, and provide targeted solutions.
Essentially, Mitch says employers need to take a holistic approach to health and wellbeing, and then they can identify blindspots in wellness and achieve good health metrics for their employees.
For instance, employees with diabetes need a wide range of wellness solutions to optimize their health while at the same time lowering healthcare costs and helping them remain productive. A holistic approach to this would involve integrating diet solutions that fit the individual’s cultural and social contexts, clinical pharmacist involvement to help employees get the most from their drug treatment, an effective weight loss strategy, and other solutions that address other risk factors or potential complications of the disease.
Mitch also talked about the need for some form of third-party evaluation and validation of an organization’s wellness policies and programs. For NAH, leveraging the Global Healthcare Accreditation for Business has been instrumental in helping the organization find the right solutions and set the right standards for employee wellness.
"That's really what this accreditation does [GHA For Business]. It forces you to tell your story about how you take care of your people's health, safety, and well-being, both employees and customers, in your work environment."
GHA For Business helps employers redefine wellness and reposition their wellness solutions to safeguard employee well-being, health, and safety. The accreditation is packed with trusted resources and information that comply with global best practices in wellness and employee health. These resources help organizations create an adaptable and scalable framework to achieve a healthier workforce and a safer work environment.
In the post-pandemic era of work, trust is a big issue. Employees are weary and are drifting away from organizations that do not show a commitment to their health and wellness. The GHA For Business is a great tool to rebuild confidence and trust amid this shift. The third-party validation and standards that GHA For Business encapsulates demonstrate your commitment to overall health and wellness and help you to retain the best talent and tell your own story.