Prevention is always better than cure, and many employers now realise that engaging with staff while they are fit and well is key

healthy workplace

What does good health and wellbeing look like? With so many factors, it can be a difficult question. An individual’s health and wellbeing can be affected by diet, activity levels, their relationships with friends and family, the way they perform at work and even their finances.

Take time to think about what’s important to your employees, as well as encouraging them to think about key areas that affect their wellbeing. Many employers are now recognising that proactively engaging with their staff while they are fit and well can help reduce instances of ill health in the future. The employer mindset is moving away from focusing on caring for their staff only when they become unwell, to encouraging them to actively manage their health and fitness.

A digital health risk assessment (HRA) is a popular starting point for understanding people’s needs and issues, both inside and outside of work. Digital HRAs are a great tool to understand just how healthy – or unhealthy – a workforce may be.

Aggregated data from completed HRAs can help identify areas of concern such as job satisfaction and stress, and lifestyle challenges like smoking, poor diet and low physical activity levels.

This information provides useful insights on key areas of focus for use in health and wellbeing programmes.

Supporting employee health improvement

Exercise plays an important role in keeping us in good physical health. The NHS recommends adults aged 19-64 should try to be active daily and should do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week. Cigna research indicates that people in the UK aged 25-39 are the most satisfied with their physical health, with 38% of people in this age group exercising regularly.

Consumer research from Cigna shows that 73% of people are interested in developing a better understanding of their health and the opportunities available to improve it. Employers are in an advantageous position to support their employees’ efforts in this regard.

A first step many employers take is to have regular, workplace-based health fairs. On-site massages, free fruit, gym discounts and health screenings are just some of the popular features of such events that can re-energise employees and motivate them to make improvements to their health and wellbeing.

Another popular option is creating a competition or initiative that encourages employees to accumulate physical activity minutes as part of a team. Using an online platform, which can sync to popular fitness devices such as Fitbit or Garmin to record team achievements and physical activity, can provide employers with a detailed account of how fit, active and keen employees are to make health improvements.

Engaging employees in digital health

Cigna’s research shows that 68% of people are interested in health provider tools that help turn data into a more detailed picture of their overall health and wellbeing. Cigna’s new app, Cigna Virtual Health®, is one example of a digital tool that can support and enable people to get healthy, stay healthy and access care easily when it’s needed.

Not only do health apps provide easy access to practical advice and tools, some also provide access to general practitioner appointments via video. Employees can receive a quick diagnosis and, with e-prescription options only a click away, these apps can provide a swift and convenient solution for all. Cigna Virtual Health® users can also complete an assessment that measures their health status and receive personalised feedback. They’re then encouraged to improve their health by participating in lifestyle coaching programmes.

If employees need to make use of their healthcare plan, apps can also provide a link to providers’ helpline numbers, making clinical advice and treatment easy to access. Where self-referral pathways are available, such as for physiotherapy or cognitive behavioural therapy, employees are empowered to quickly access the treatment they need.

Digital technology has an important role to play. Apps can help employers to encourage healthier lifestyles, while making it easier for their staff to access advice and treatment when they need it. It’s a win-win all round. 

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