Workplace wellness programs should include a holistic approach. Whether programs aim to inspire healthy living through fitness competitions or focus on medical goals with worksite acute care, the most common, and limited priority for many companies addressing wellness in the workplace is physical health. In fact, addressing physical health can be a great first step to reaching other factors that holistically affect well-being.
Physical Health is just the beginning
Physical health in the workplace is just the beginning of a journey to better health, and getting the first step right is essential to achieving population health outcomes. When an employee makes an appointment at an onsite health center for symptoms of illness or minor injury, the healthcare provider has the opportunity to treat the whole person, instead of just one momentary complaint. During diagnosis and treatment, the provider will discover underlying risk factors or chronic conditions, which can range from family history, established habits, social or behavioral issues, or much more.
A medical appointment that leads to a discussion of an individual’s health risks and goals can then result in a health improvement plan that the patient and provider jointly design. The clinician-coach supports a personalized, step-by-step plan through an ongoing relationship that leads to better health for the employee. These plans take into consideration all the factors that impact physical health by going beyond diet and exercise to address environmental and lifestyle influences on health.
Even if employers don’t offer onsite healthcare, they can still offer programs that address physical health in the context of holistic wellbeing. Physical activity challenges can be complemented with a stress-reducing activity, such as a “mindful Mondays” program. Better yet, integrating aspects of social, behavioral, and environmental health into physical health programs shows an elevated understanding of how the interconnectedness of wellbeing, and will certainly lead to the most diverse and long-lasting outcomes for employee health.
There are many ways to address physical health in the workplace but a focus on wellness will pay off substantially more if improved physical health leads to improved social, behavioral, and environmental health. A focus on physical health can be a gateway to addressing other aspects of well-being, all of which affects productivity and morale in the workplace.