By Teri Dreher, RN.
Whether your client is back in the office, still working from home, or doing a bit of both, if they employ people, they need to be concerned about their physical and mental health. Overwork impacts physical and mental health with stress and burnout. It does no favors, either financially or personally for the client or the company.
Today, it is a smart company that cares about the well-being of its employees. And what can you, as a CPA, do to help make a difference?
Let’s start with what constitutes corporate health promotion. There are five things to look for. Your client’s business
- Offer practical and accessible programs?
- Do you have a health-conscious work environment?
- Integrating well-being into the corporate structure?
- Link wellness to existing support programs?
- Offer health screenings and education?
Not surprisingly, more than half of large employers offer such services to their employees, in addition to generous vacation and day off policies.
The human resources department is generally in charge of employee well-being. But HR staff don’t have a background in health, wellness, or healthcare. And they’re limited in what they can do without violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Where HR can be effective, such as offering smoking cessation support or providing free flu shots, it helps create a culture of health and well-being. He also strives to reduce the company’s insurance costs, which affect the bottom line. The question is: what is the priority?
There is also the issue of trust. I don’t blame people who are reluctant to share health information with their employers.
One solution is for a company to contract with a health advocacy consultant, such as a private patient advocate. They don’t need to appoint someone on staff to help employees with health issues, and employees are dealing with someone whose concern is their well-being, not the bottom line.
Since most patient advocates have a health care background (most are registered nurses), they are knowledgeable about the health care system, resources, and treatments. They can also escalate employee concerns to HR and management while protecting employee identities. This goes a long way in building trust.
A health advocate can help research a disease or condition; make the best use of insurance; and advise what questions to ask a doctor. Employees can confidentially discuss sensitive issues, whether it’s addiction or mental illness. If the source of the stress is managing the care of a loved one, the health advocate can help organize the help needed.
When a company spends money on a consultant, it is paying for advice. The Health Advocate can make recommendations to create a workplace that cares about the health and well-being of employees. They could, for example, recommend healthier choices in vending machines and cafeterias.
Some recommendations cost nothing, such as encouraging outdoor walking and chatting meetings to get some exercise or letting employees know it’s okay to disconnect from chat channels and email when they’re on the go. are free.
You probably can’t convince a company to contract with a health defense consultant on your own (well, unless you own the company), but it’s worth making the suggestion to your customers through the channels available to you.
In the meantime, if you’re supervising a team yourself, here are some things you can do with them and for them to promote health and wellness:
- Move. Stand up and stretch in the office. Take the stairs. Go for a walk.
- Make sure everyone follows safety protocols (shoes, goggles, etc.).
- Host a healthy potluck and swap recipes.
- Reward results, not effort.
- Recognize people who use their work time wisely and get assignments on time.
- Allow team members to disconnect from email and chat when not working.
- Encourage everyone to use their paid time off.
- Set aside 15 minutes in the afternoon, turn off the lights and relax or meditate.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised at the performance and productivity if you put such practices into practice. And you might just feel better about yourself!
Teri Dreher, RN, is a patient advocate in Chicago. Her business is NShore Patient Advocates, www.northshorern.com, and she would be happy to consult with you or your clients on setting up an employee wellness program.
#clients #businesses #health #wellness #programs