Companies want their workers to be aware of health care resources, but more importantly, to be able to effectively use them.
The poet, Virgil, once said, "the greatest wealth is health." Although quality and coverage are ranked highly as health care goals, most Americans rate the U.S. system as unsatisfactory. Employers are interested in helping consumers be more conscious, thoughtful, and informed in making health choices.
The American Heart Association (AHA) promotes comprehensive programs that address the following:
- cardiovascular disease prevention;
- tobacco cessation and prevention;
- physical activity;
- nutrition education;
- stress management/reduction;
- weight management; and
- early detection/screening.
Other features may include direction regarding effective use of the health care system, back pain prevention/management, alcohol and substance abuse assessment, adult vaccination, and maternal and infant health education.
The Office of Minority Health (OMH) agrees that "cultural competency is one of the main ingredients in closing the disparities gap in health care." When developing a health wellness program, language and culture influence:
- how health conditions and causes are perceived;
- workplace wellness belief systems;
- attitudes toward health care providers;
- behaviors of consumers; and
- delivery of health services.
According to an article in Family & Community Health, "culturally sensitive and appropriate programs must be developed to engage economically challenged minority and other underserved populations."
Take a look at The Dow Chemical Company. Dow's health and wellness programs in South Africa and Latin America have focused on reducing health risks and attending to long-term HIV/AIDS prevention. Significant increases in longevity and reduced rates of HIV highlight Dow's success.
When businesses search for cost-effective ways to meet their employees' health needs, they obtain a variety of health and wellness quotes. Workplace wellness programs vary, not only financially, but in how each addresses the health of employees.
Don't forget to cover bases and consider how family, community, and work affects employees and business practices. A wellness program must address employee health needs through these lenses as well.
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