Holistic Health the Key to Employee Wellness (and Productivity)
There have been many clinical studies directed at assessing the correlation between employee health and performance, with the latter’s effect on costs in particular focus. Without repeating too many of the well-known maxims, healthy and happy people make for good employees, and good employees do well for their employers — plus, they tend to stick around longer too.
The effects of isolation during lockdown are becoming apparent in the HR metrics of many companies, which are adding to the more obvious problems caused by staff absences over the last two years. Underlying health problems have risen to the surface, existing conditions worsened, and overall mental health and wellness have suffered. Combatting these problems means addressing employees’ health holistically. To this end, there has been a slew of apps and technological services coming to market that claim to solve the problem.
However what’s not often publicized but is apparent on even the most cursory of inspections is that many of these services have little credible scientific evidence behind their methods. There may have been some clinical involvement at a software program’s early stages of development, but in the main, software development companies rarely, for example (read, “statistically negligible”) employ physicians permanently.
For some programs, that’s not necessarily a hindrance. Pure-play mindfulness apps, for instance, help people relax, sleep, and concentrate better — with positive consequences for the workplace. But mental wellbeing is only one of the five pillars of good health: nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, and intermittent fasting (the latter comprises of leaving 12-16 hours between meals – a good night’s sleep and a late breakfast, for example).
Ensuring continuous clinical involvement in a service concerned with health is an important differentiator. Managing issues like weight, BMI, nutrition, and blood glucose needs specialist oversight. That’s particularly important given the enforced sedentary nature of many of our lifestyles recently, which has generally worsened all of health across the full gamut of conditions & problems.
Dr. Shelagh Fraser, Chief Medical Officer at LifeOmic Precision Wellness, says that many of us are “simultaneously less resilient because [of] growing fatigue and frustration with how COVID has adversely impacted […] lives over the last two years.” Therefore, making wise choices regarding health-focused employee apps is particularly important as people begin to get back to some form of normality. But organizations choosing to invest in their employees in this manner are doing so at exactly the right time.
Thankfully, there is now a broad range of aids and guidance out there to help improve each of our five pillars of health. Medically validated portable testing devices for blood glucose, insulin levels, and liver function are increasingly mainstream, and these can give important data for well-designed apps and online services.
As people begin to change their habits, those biomarkers can reflect an individual’s response to diet and exercise. For example, some devices, like blood glucose monitors, allow people to plot data points in real-time. That means it’s now possible to adjust lifestyle behaviors daily according to clinical readings, rather than checking in with a physician every few months, which may still be a good idea in any event
While knowledge about some of these tools is widespread among sufferers from syndromes (such as diabetics), tools and apps are useful to anyone interested in optimizing health and performance. In workplace cultures, people’s progress down the path to a healthier lifestyle can be gamified, with, for example, competitions for each of the five pillars of health, with prizes for the winners weekly.
When employers sign up their people for the LifeOmic Precision Wellness service, for example, staff form a private, company-only “circle” where results and gains can be shared and celebrated. In the same way that a buddying system for stopping smoking works better than solo efforts, making better health a workforce-wide community goal helps everyone.
The LifeOmic Precision Wellness program offers features chosen from a range of health tools available from a central marketplace that satisfy most organizations’ specific needs. These can range from simple educational programs for people just wanting to know a little more about, for instance, nutrition, to getting one-on-one coaching from a health professional.
Organizations can also add their own HR resources to the app (education and accreditation programs spring to mind in this regard), so employees have a single-point-of-wellness that’s individual yet communal. Users can opt, too, to extend their own personal circle to friends and family, keeping them informed as to their wellbeing.
With clinician direction, powerful technologies are helping organizations improve people’s health: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Some advantages may end up experienced by the employer, who’ll benefit from fewer sick days on the staff roster, but the real winners are the users of the service.
To find out more about the five pillars of health (nutrition, exercise, mindfulness, sleep, and intermittent fasting) and how your people can feel better about themselves, look at the Precision Wellness platform.