Tag Archives: Wellbeing

Social Determinants of Health

March 8, 2019


Population Health Managers have long known that the health of an individual is dependent on a complex variety of factors, not just genetics and lifestyle. Health can also be determined by the places and conditions where employees work and live. Poor social and environmental conditions can negatively affect the health outcomes of those employees. For example, unsafe neighborhoods, low income, poor access to healthcare, poor quality education and low literacy can affect the health and wellbeing of the employee population. These conditions are referred to as the Social Determinants of Health (SDoH). Healthy People 2020 defines SDoH as: conditions in the environment in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age that affect a wide range of health, functioning, and quality-of-life outcomes and risks. The Kaiser Family Foundation has organized the SDoH around five key categories and their sub categories:

  1. Economic Stability: Employment, income, expenses, debt, medical bills, support
  1. Education: Literacy, language, early childhood education, vocational training, higher education
  1. Health and Health Care: Health coverage, provider availability, provider linguistic and cultural competency, quality of care
  1. Neighborhood and Built Environment: Housing, transportation, safety, parks, playgrounds, walkability, zip code
  1. Social and Community context: Social integration, support systems, community engagement, discrimination, stress

Understanding and addressing how these social determinants can affect the health outcomes of an employee population is imperative for an employer. Although employers may feel that they have no influence on the conditions and environments where their employees were born, live, learn or play, they have a substantial influence on the conditions and environments at the workplace. For example:

  • Employers can offer financial wellbeing resources to assist employees with economic instability and make sure that all employees earn a living wage. http://livingwage.mit.edu/
  • Employers can offer tuition reimbursement and allow employees travel time to attend evening classes.
  • Employers can provide affordable healthcare benefits to employees.
  • Employers can offer bus tickets and train vouchers for employees who use public transportation.
  • Employers can assist employees with food insecurity by directing them to appropriate resources or by providing meals or snacks at the workplace.
  • Employers can offer resources on stress management and access to appropriate care through an Employee Assistance Program (EAP).

Many initiatives have been launched at the federal and state levels, but many challenges remain. Employers should proactively seek ways to decrease the burden of poor conditions in which their employees may work by assessing their current environment and needs of their employee population and commit to find ways to improve.





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September is Fruits & Veggies – More Matters Month

September 21, 2018


Most Americans know the importance of eating fruits and vegetables, but most still aren’t getting the daily recommended servings. The minimum requirement is 5 cups of fruits and vegetables a day. A cup is equal to one tennis ball-size piece of fruit or one cup of cooked or raw vegetables. Most individuals need to do some planning to ensure they are getting the minimum daily intake. Planning involves, purchasing, cleaning and preparing the fruit and vegetables. Keep a fruit and vegetable bowl in the refrigerator with a variety of ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables to snack on. Be sure to add a vegetable at meal time and double the portion so that fruits and vegetables make up one-half of you plate. For more ideas visit www.choosemyplate.gov .

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Wellness to Wellbeing: Is it time for a change to your program?

July 24, 2018


Workplace wellness programs have definitely grown in the past 20 years. While the focus in the past was on wellness programs that addressed the physical health of employees, an important shift has taken place. Employers are shifting their focus and addressing the whole person, not just the physical health of an individual. Wellness programs are confirming this change in direction and are changing their name from Wellness to Wellbeing. Wellbeing programs involve coordinated and comprehensive strategies to meet the health and wellbeing needs of their employees. Comprehensive wellbeing programs focus on several aspects of an employee’s health such as:

Physical Health – Wellbeing programs still offer physical health programs such as walking challenges, flu shots, biometric screenings, walking challenges, healthy vending options, healthy food & beverage policies, smoking cessation programs, lactation rooms and other programs that address the physical aspect of employee health.

Mental/Emotional Health – Wellness programs have addressed the mental health of employees primarily with stress management programs, but wellbeing programs integrate mental health & wellbeing as part of the culture. Wellbeing programs offer onsite meditation rooms, onsite yoga classes, employee assistance programs with unlimited one-on-one counseling, mindfulness resources, access to natural lighting and other programs and policies to address the mental and emotional wellbeing of employees.

Financial Health – The management of financial resources can be very stressful for employees and the ability to make wise financial decisions becomes essential. Wellbeing programs address the financial health of employees by first of all offering comprehensive benefits packages. Other offerings can include voluntary benefits, legal resources, employee assistance programs that offer financial planning resources, tuition reimbursement, retirement planning, identity theft protection and others.

Career/Intellectual Health – These types of programs may seem most foreign to traditional wellness programs, but an employee’s wellbeing is certainly affected by their personal satisfaction and investment in their career development at the workplace. These types of wellbeing programs address flexible work schedules, guest speakers on various educational topics, employee training, mentorship programs, paid time off policies, leadership development and more that treat the employee as a creative asset to the organization.

Social/Community Health – These programs are especially important to Millennials at the workplace, but affect all generations. Social or Community health looks at the connections that employees make at the workplace and in the larger community. Leverage the social activities that may already be part of the organization. Programs that communicate the importance of relationship such as social outings, interest groups or clubs, employee appreciation events, team building and projects in the community.

A comprehensive Wellbeing program will address the employee holistically and provide opportunities for employees to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Is it time for a title change and focus for your wellness program?

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