It’s important to note that before we can begin to talk about the type of health promotion program appropriate for any organization, we must begin to shift from a culture of sickness and disease to one that is rooted in prevention and wellness. There are a range of activities and interventions geared towards reducing health risks or threats to an employee’s health. Listed below are some primary prevention strategies, which are aimed at preventing disease or injury before it happens.
• Lifestyle management
• Health education
Primary prevention strategies focus on creating a healthy place of work, including identifying and controlling stressors or barriers so that employees are engaged in their health, have access to healthy resources on site, and have access to programs to get and stay healthy.
Strategies could be focused on the individual or the entire organization through group wellness or team based activities. Some primary prevention strategies focus on education about healthy and safe habits, such as: exercising regularly, eating well, and not smoking.
Oftentimes employers assume their employees already have this education, but it’s our job to continue to remind people of healthy practices and to create an environment where people can be rewarded and/or be encouraged to practice healthy habits at work. Many companies offer lunch and learns about a variety of health topics or offer nutrition or walking programs. Sometimes the best strategy is to go directly to the employees to discern what their needs are. When surveyed, employees said they would like basic education about healthy snacks to stay fueled throughout the workday, as well as motivation and resources to quit smoking. Many employees weren’t aware there was an Employee Assistance Program available to them when dealing with a difficult situation, whether personal or work-related. Providing health education in our ongoing employee materials and communications is a key prevention strategy.
Secondary prevention strategies – Help people assess, identify and manage conditions early:
• Biometric screening and early detection programs
• Health coaching
• Health risk assessments
• Work disability prevention programs
Secondary strategies work in conjunction with each other and with primary prevention strategies. Secondary prevention strategies aim to reduce the impact of disease that has already occurred, such as with early detection and treatment to slow or halt its progress. Good examples of secondary prevention might include return to work programs for people who were injured on the job or health risk assessments to report and record their health related behaviors and indicated readiness to change based on what they reported. Preventive exams and biometric screening tests also help detect disease at its earliest stage. Removing those health risk factors ensures an improved transition of risk.
Tertiary prevention strategies— Help people manage long-term, complex health problems
The third type of prevention strategy is tertiary prevention, which is aimed at people who are managing long term and often complex health problems. Tertiary prevention aims to soften the impact of an ongoing illness or injury that has lasting effects, such as chronic diseases and permanent impairment, in order to improve as much as possible ability to function, quality of life, and life expectancy.
Some examples of tertiary prevention might include cardiac or circulatory rehabilitation programs, chronic disease management offered through a carrier in your workplace for diabetes, arthritis, and depression, support groups that allow members to access informational material and share strategies for living well with their peers, or vocational rehabilitation programs to retrain workers for new jobs when they have recovered as much as possible.
Types of Wellness Programs:
• Health Education and Participation only programs (not related to the health plan)
• Participation only (related to the health plan)
• Health Contingent Activity only (related to the health plan)
• Health Contingent Outcomes Based (related to the health plan)
Contact Us: If you have questions or would like an initial consultation on your wellness program.
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Full article: Create an outcomes based approach to wellness with a focus on prevention: click here for article.
We’ve highlighted a particular employer and how they went down the path of implementing a workplace risk reduction strategy in this case study.
Additionally we’ve invited our legal counsel, Iris Tilley from Barran Liebman Attorneys, to address legal considerations to be aware of when moving forward with a health contingent wellness program, click here.
Webinar video: In this Webinar video we share ideas and strategies for implementing a workplace wellness program into your workplace. First we focus on the benefits of a workplace wellness program, both from the employer perspective and then also from the employee perspective. We also share some tips for focusing on prevention and talk about specific risk reduction strategies that you can implement in your workplace. Then we wrap it up with what’s next in workplace wellness. Within the Employer Services Division of the Partners Group, we not only offer employee benefits, we also provide employee health and productivity consulting services, healthcare analytics, total absence management consulting services, as well as employer retirement plans. Please contact us if we can be of further assistance to you.
Alexa Galluzzo, Managing Consultant, Health and Productivity, The Partners Group