If you are a current employee client: 1-800-648-5834 | 425-454-3003

;retaining employees;

19
Dec

Reasons to Have an Employee Assistance Program

j0405586The primary purpose of an Employee Assistance Program is to maximize employee productivity while helping employees face life obstacles that can interfere with your business.

An EAP helps increase your bottom line while building morale, and support for employees and their managers.

According to a study published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, anxiety and depression rank among the top five reasons for absenteeism. The National Mental Health Association reports this problem costs American companies more than $200 billion each year. Stressors such as family problems and financial crises are often at the very core of these concerns.  A high quality EAP can provide a multifaceted approach to improving the life of employees and by doing so, employers can save significant amounts of money in lost productivity, absenteeism, turnover and poor performance.

Fully Effective Employees provides the following employee assistance services:

  • Comprehensive assessment of an employee or family’s member’s presenting problem
  • A referrals to reputable mental health and substance abuse resources
  • Brief, short term assistance with problem resolution
  • 24/7 telephone access to professional counselors
  • Legal assistance and referrals
  • Financial counseling and resources for debt management and financial concerns
  • Wellness coaching and programs for disease prevention and management, smoking cessation, exercise, weight loss, nutrition and stress management
  • Worklife services including referrals for eldercare, childcare, dependent care and pet care and referrals to community resources for social services
  • Extensive website with self-assessments, resources, articles and more
  • Webinars on a variety of social/emotional topics
  • Online interactive trainings with printable certificates of completion
  • Onsite brown bag trainings
  • Assistance with drug free workplaces
  • Employer assistance program- coaching and training on dealing with problem employees
  • Critical incident debriefing
  • HR consulting services and small business HR programs

There are a lot of companies that offer Employee Assistance services, so why choose Fully Effective Employees?

  • We have been providing EAP services to a variety of businesses since 1976.
  • In-house EAP trained professional counselors have been with the company an average of 13 years.
  • Expertise with small businesses, drug testing programs, training and HR issue
  • Personalized services tailored to meet the unique needs of your company.
  • Available for very small businesses
  • A local, Puget Sound based company with the capacity to work with national and international clients with an affiliate network of over 50,000 counselors.
  • Personalized, professional services tailored to meet your company’s unique needs.

An Employee Assistance Program offers an excellent return on your investment.

Contact us for more information!

16
May

Combating Workplace Negativity

Businessman Looking Suspiciously Over His ShoulderNegativity is a habit. It is contagious and quite common in many workplaces and can easily become part of a company’s culture. Negativity can include gossiping, poor morale, badmouthing management or the company, lack of enthusisasm, bullying, harassment, and lack of loyalty to the employer.  Restructuring a negative workplace can take years.  Therefore, it is better to prevent negativity from occuring in the first place and when it does arise, recognize it and nip it in the bud.

According to Cheryl DeMarco http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cheryl_DeMarco, some business consequences of workplace negativity can be:

Customer complaints

Errors and poor work quality

Increased employee turnover

Absence and tardiness

Pesonality conflicts

Poor morale

Loss of loyalty to the organization

Decreased creativity

Negativity has a tremendous impact on a company’s bottom line. It will also affect the worker, emotionally and physically and when employees work in a negative environment, it is hard not to take it home with them.

As a manager, be consciously aware of someone’s attitude when determining if you wish to hire them.  Look for hints of negativity and if you pick it up, listen to your gut and don’t hire that person.  Also, carefully listen  for negativity when requesting references.  If you have an employee who has become negative, react quickly. Meet with the employee and discuss your observations and concerns. Sometimes the reasons may be justifiied and you should acknowledge that and help find ways to resolve the cause, if possible.  Help this person take responsibility for their negativity.  Even if there are valid concerns for one’s feelings it is not appropriate to express them negatively at work. You may not be able to change someone’s point of view but you can influence behavior during work hours.  Describe exactly what you expect.  Tell the employee exactly what you have observed and how if has affected the company and co-workers.  Help the employee replace negative behaviors with more positive ones.  Negative behavior is a performance issue and it may be very approprate to refer the individual to the EAP as a management referral.  When you use the EAP as a partner with management, you can monitor an employee’s motivation to improve and their progress, while staying out of the personal issues or details.

If the behavior has been ocurring within a group of employees, it would be advisable to consult with the EAP about how to handle the situation. Depending on what is happening and the causes for the negativity, it may be appropriate to meet with the group together or to meet with individuals separately.

Unfortunately, sometimes you will have no choice but to fire a really negative person.  As a leader, you model by example and if you allow a negative or inappropriate employee to remain, it sets a bad tone.  Be the change you want to see.

For information on preventing or dealing with negativity in your workplace and how the EAP can help, contact us at 425-557-0907.

 

 

10
May

Do Your Employees Have Financial Problems?

While there are signs the economy is improving, people continue to experience unemployment, foreclosure, bankruptcy and credit card debt. Many Americans live well beyond their means and survive from paycheck to paycheck.  Financial problems create stress, anxiety, relationship issues and depression. As a result, employees may have a difficult time keeping their financial problems separate from their work lives.  Stress and emotional difficulties can lead to absenteeism, accidents and performance issues which will affect an employer’s bottom line.

Although the economy has been the primary source, there are other reasons employees may be experiencing financial difficulties.

These include:

  • Gambling
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Shopping addiction
  • Depression
  • Poor money management
  • Divorce

The following are some signs that employees may be experiencing financial difficulties:

  • Requesting paycheck advances
  • Requesting an employer loan
  • Often volunteering to work overtime
  • Taking out 401K loans or discontinuing contributions
  • Calls to verify employment or wages by lenders
  • Garnishment of wages
  • Change in work peformance, attitude or behavior
  • Frequent phone calls
  • Overly emotional behavior

Employers can take a proactive approach to help employees with personal and financial problems by providing a good employee assistance program.  You can actively encourage the confidential use of  the program for employees and their families by distributing promotional materials, linking the EAP website to the company’s Intranet, and reminding workers about the EAP in meetings, company newsletters and emails.  Fully Effective Employees provides an optional legal and financial assistance program which allows employees the opportunity to speak with an attorney or CPA about their financial situation.  We can also arrange to have financial planners provide financial seminars at no additional cost.

If personal problems have begun to affect performance, you should refer the employee to the EAP for the performance issue and if you suspect financial issues may be the reason,  you can share that information with the EAP counselor.  Investing in your most important asset- your employees makes good business sense.

 

 

12
Apr

Ten Reasons to Have an Employee Assistance Program

Most employers retain the services of an Employee Assistance Program to help employees and their families with personal and work related problems. If employees function well at work, they contribute to the well being of an organization as a whole.  Most EAP’s help with a wide range of problems including stress, depression, anxiety, family or relationship difficulties, work issues, financial, legal, worklife, work problems and more.  An EAP can be highly effective at reducing employee problems and increasing the bottom line.  However, there are many choices in the EAP market and like all services, it is important to understand what you need and what you are receiving from your current or potential vendor. The following is a list of the top ten reasons to have an EAP:

1. Increase productivity

When employees are faced with personal problems, their concentration, focus and motivation are all negatively impacted so an EAP can help them deal with these issues which will improve productivity. An EAP reduces absenteeism, accidents and turnover, thereby making employees more productive.

2. Reduce Company Costs

Employee problems are costly.  Troubled employees take more sick days, have more accidents, and make more health insurance claims. When employees suffer emotionally, their work and productivity also suffer.  An EAP will improve work peformance and help increase the bottom line.

3. Confidentiality

When a third party company provides EAP services,  employees are more likely to seek help, when they know their employer is not privy to their confidential personal information. Employers are not put in the position of assisting employees with personal problems when they are not trained or equipped to do so. They are able to manage people but not their problems.

4. Aids in the Recruitment and Rentention of Valued Employees

An EAP is a value-added benefit for employees and their families which provides confidential access to counseling and resources they might not otherwise have. It builds morale and loyalty when employees know their employer supports their physical and emotional well being.

5. Resolution of Work Related Problems

EAP’s help employees deal with personal problems that have begun to affect work peformance which will hopefully prevent termination and get the employee back on track. The EAP can also help the employee  to develop skills to deal with work related stress and problematic work relationships.

6. Assistance in Getting the Right Help

When left to their own devices, employees may be confused or overwhelmed about how to access services, treatment or counseling in their own community or may not even know where to turn.  The EAP counselors sort out the issues and assist with appropriate referrals and resources for ongoing support and problem resolution.

7.  Management Assistance

Managers and supervisors may need help confronting and dealing with problematic employees or workplace situations. The EAP provides management training, coaching and consultation. The EAP can also assist with drug testing, harassment and potential workplace violence.

8. Drug Testing Programs

The EAP can assist employers with their drug testing programs by providing assessments, referrals, case management and assistance with Return to Work Agreements when employees test positive for drugs at work. Drug testing prevents serious accidents, injuries and fatalities and the EAP can help employees get back on track without losing their jobs.

9. Training

The EAP can provide online and onsite training to employees and supervisors on a range of topics. Training also increases awareness of the EAP. Most EAP’s also provide critical incident debriefings after a traumatic event has occured at the worksite.

10. Resourcs and Referrals

The EAP can be a wealth of information for employers, employees and their families. Not only can the EAP counselors assist with the pyschological well being of employees, they can also assist with legal issues, childcare and eldercare referrals, treatment programs, community resources, human resource assistance and much more.

For information on how Fully Effective Employees can help your company, contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com

 

 

 

1
Mar

Managing the Workplace After the Death of an Employee

As a manager, one of the most difficult situations you may face in your career is managing the aftermath of the death of an employee and the multiple repercussions that may affect your work group or department. Because a critical incident of this nature may be traumatic for co-workers of the employee, it is recommended that you, or your Human Resources support person contact your Employee Assistance Program to assist you. It is helpful to schedule a debriefing session after news of the employee’s death has been received. Your EAP specialist will be available to facilitate the session once it can be arranged. Research has shown that early intervention with the affected work group, within 24 to 72 hours after the word of a death arrives, reduces the stressful impact of the news. Co-workers have the opportunity to volunteer expressions of grief and time to share thoughts in remembrance of the person. Plans for gestures of condolence to family members can be completed and satisfy the general need to do something to commemorate the loss. Effectively managing what may be an extremely emotional situation for you and your work group may mean delegating certain duties associated with the death to those who are more detached from the situation.

Because an incident of this nature can result in a traumatic stress response, it is recommended that you or Human Resources contact the EAP to facilitate a debriefing session for all affected employees within 24 to 48 hours after learning of the death. Research has found that early intervention with a work group reduces the possibility of delayed stress responses and enables the work group to return to their normal level of productivity sooner. Another benefit of the debriefing is that the organization and its management staff are viewed by employees as responsive and caring people.

Since each member of the work group may grieve the loss of their co-worker in individual ways, it makes sense to recognize that need. Provide ways for these emotions to be channeled and recognized. There is a wide range of normal and appropriate reactions to grief and loss.

When you contact the EAP, you will be asked to provide whatever relevant information is available regarding the death of the employee and your assessment of the work group’s reaction to the situation. A one to two hour debriefing session or meeting for employees should be scheduled as soon as possible. This meeting should be voluntary; interested employees are encouraged to attend. Individuals may choose to speak or not speak. There may be individual employees, identified by you or by the EAP counselors, who may need one-on-one attention, due to the severity of their grief reaction.

Listed below are subject areas to be considered when trying to effectively manage this kind of workplace situation. You will not be able to think of everything or meet every need – this is an unusual work situation where there are few protocols. You will, however, want to thoughtfully consider the following steps:

First Things First

Get all of the assistance you feel you will need to effectively manage the situation. Assess your own reaction to the news in order to anticipate the need to involve other resources within the organization.

Staff Notification

There is no way to anticipate how you will learn of the death of one of your employees. You may be the first to know from the family, but often the news will travel a more circuitous route and another employee may alert you. No matter how you learn of the incident, react quickly by notifying immediate staff and close work friends directly, and the rest of the company through written communications, such as an email or memorandum. Remember to contact staff who are away or on leave. Share whatever information you have and explain that more details will be forthcoming.

Attending the Funeral or Memorial Service

Arrange time for your staff to attend the funeral or memorial service if they would like to do so. You may need to hire a temporary worker to answer phones for a few hours so that everyone can attend. Attending the memorial service is an important part of the grieving process.

Remembering the Deceased Employee

The relationship the employee had with co-workers will often determine how the workplace decides to remember the deceased. Examples of work group responses include: creating a memorial bulletin board with photos and other meaningful images, holding a workplace event such as a luncheon or reception to honor the deceased employee. Invite family members and close friends outside of work to share their memories with the group. You might also: create a memory book filled with stories and sentiments from co-workers to give to the family, have a fundraiser to give a financial donation to a chosen charity organization, or write an article about the employee for the in-house newsletter.

Other Workplace Issues

Some of the more concrete issues which you, as the manager, will need to address are:

Desk and personal belongings.

Family members or a close work friend may want to handle the task of boxing up the in dividual’s personal belongings.

Changing the voice mail message, retrieving messages (voice mail and email), handling inquires intended for the deceased employee.

These tasks could be shared or rotated among staff to ease the emotional burden of having to tell callers that the employee has died. Prepare a brief statement to assist those who reply to calls.

Staff coverage for unfinished or future work assignments.

A temporary, short-term plan can be put into place until a more permanent decision can be made. It is best to put a temporary plan into action as soon as possible to lessen the level of anxiety that is already present among the staff. Make it clear what is needed and who is responsible.

Office space.

It is best not to make any abrupt moves in regard to space changes; people need time to grieve the loss of their co- worker before seeing his or her workstation dismantled. In a month or so, there will be more acceptance of the changes which come from the loss of the co-worker.

The replacement employee.

Under the best of circumstances, a new employee needs to be prepared for possible negative comparisons with the deceased employee. If the deceased was particularly well-liked, the transition will be even more difficult. It is advisable to give staff notice of the new employee’s start date, relevant work background and to prepare them for the change. It is a normal part of accepting a loss to welcome someone new.

Loss of work productivity and motivation.

As the manager, expect the death of an employee to result in lower productivity and motivation for a brief time. The debriefing held soon after the announcement will ease the impact of loss, but it cannot be avoided entirely. Eventually, the work unit will return to its normal level of functioning.

Referring to the EAP.

If one to two months pass and you notice that one of your employees has not returned to his or her normal level of functioning and appears to still be grieving, talk to that employee, give them feedback on what you have observed and share your concerns about them. You may suggest that they seek counseling from your EAP. Often, a loss in one area of someone’s life, as in the loss of a co-worker, triggers unresolved feelings about previous losses or anticipated losses. This person may need extra assistance in coping with these feelings.

This article was written by Nancie Bowes Kenney, M.S.W. Edited by Mary McClain Georgevich

CopeLine is published by: COPE, Inc. 1120 G Street, NW Suite 550 Washington, DC

Additional Resources

Necessary Losses, The Loves, Illusions, Dependencies, and Impossible Expectations That All of Us Have to Give Up in Order to Grow, Viorst, Judith, Fireside, 1998. Section IV, Chapters 16 through 20 are particularly significant in regards to loss and grief.

Death and Dying, Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth, Scribner, 1997.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People, Kushner, Harold, Avon, 1997.

 

23
Sep

Employee Engagement and Retention

I attended an HR Roundtable sponsored by Resourcefulhr in Seattle today.  A group of HR professionals met to discuss challenges and ideas for enagaging and retaining employees.

The major topics that we discussed included:

  • Finding certain specialized talent in the high tech fields where the larger companies are able to entice employees with large salaries, benefits and the prestige of the big name corporations.
  • Retaining employees in companies where the hourly salary is very low due to economic constraints.
  • Engaging employees and keeping them loyal and happy.
  • Dealing with generational differences including things like social media, work ethic, expectations and more.
  • Work life balance.

Research has shown that unless the salary is very low, financial incentives are not always the way to reach the hearts and minds of employees.  Appreciation, acknowledgement, and recognition will go a long way towards keeping employees motivated to perform. A sense of belonging to the community in which they work, feeling valued and supported by their employer are important to keep employees loyal to. Low- cost benefits like health club membership discounts, wellness and worklife programs and employee assistance programs can be implemented for a great return on investment.

The members of the roundtable discussion offered some great ideas that worked for their workplaces. Some of these included:

  • Hosting a community garden which provided a place for employees to plant, tend, weed and water flowers and vegetables and then reap the rewards of the garden by picking flowers for the workplace or making a salad with the fresh picked vegetables.
  • A monthly theme such as wellness or “stress less”, where speakers, massage therapists and other professionals were brought in to assist with the theme and provide benefits for employees.
  • A “Rock Star” program where decorated rocks with positive sayings would be passed to deserving employees who were nominated for certain acts of kindness, good performance or when they were going through a tough time.
  • A book club meeting weekly to read and discuss books relevant to the workplace or personal interests.
  • Webinar trainings or onsite trainings on new technologies such as Linked in, Facebook and Twitter, for the older generations to help bridge the generational gap.
  • Social media policies to clarify the use and time spent on social media in the workplace.
  • Nominating employees for exceeding performance, helping others, etc and then entering the nomination into a monthly drawing for a prize.
  • Host meetings to listen and hear employee concerns and to solicit ideas for improvement, change, etc.

All of these are fabulous ideas for keeping employees engaged. We all know the cost of recruitng and retraining new employees, so we need to be sure we keep our current employees happy.

Do you have any other ideas to contribute to this list?  We would love to hear from you!

 

16
Aug

Why Should a Small Business Have an EAP?

While smaller companies have fewer employers and therefore lower utilization of an EAP program, small employers with employee problems may suffer the effects   of  those problems more. Decreased performance and productivity will hurt a smaller employer’s bottom line faster.  Workplace negativity can spread like wildfire in small company and if employees leave on masse, a small company could be damaged beyond repair.  As a result, an employer that provides a high quality, personalized, full service EAP (Core-Technology EAP)  can help both the employer and employee by decreasing liability and risk, reducing accidents and improving employee morale and loyalty.  Employees who feels supported by their employer will be far more enagaged. The EAP helps a small employer decrease the stress small business owners encounter when managing a lot of responsibilities with little support.  Small businesses with a high quality EAP will find the EAP is a partner in helping them with issues such as change, lay-offs,  employee personal and work problems and potential serious employee problems such as intoxication on the job, recipients of domestic violence, threats of workplace violence, allegations of sexual harassment, death or serious injury at work and more.  No business is immune from human problems, regardless of their size.

The Core-Technology EAP that deals with employee problems, (and those employees who may have problems with management), is often the first to learn of an employee’s intent to sue their employer.  They may tell the EAP counselor, “I am upset with my supervisor because…and I am thinking of suing”.  If handled properly, the EAP can be a front line defense against employment claims and related lawsuits.  Professional EAP counselors help employees to seek alternate solutions to personal problems and more constructive alternatives to meet their needs.  Some options would be to refer them to human resources, provide mediation or conflict resolution services or other dispute resolution channels.   When employees have a safe, confidential place to process their anger or feelings they can be defused enough to work toward a resolution or in some cases, the employee can be coached to pursue employment elsewhere which may be the best course to avoid the pursuit of a lawsuit, while making the employee happier.

EAP’s can help save employers money by preventing lawsuits including harassment, wrongful termination and hostile workplace allegations. When the EAP is well promoted and troubled employees are encouraged to contact the EAP in order to get their needs met in appropriate ways, they are less likely to sue.  In addition, managers should be taught to consult with the EAP as soon as they are aware that an employees is disgruntled or troubled.

Employee assistance programs that prevent Employment Practices Liability and loss prevention may far exceed health insurance cost containment.  According to  Dan Fuerst,  www.workexcel.com, the average jury award for wrongful termination is $500,000 with out of court settlements averaging $100,000.  The low cost of a fee per employee based program is so minimal compared to the potential risk employers face by being sued by their employers.

The Core-Technology EAP is one that is not a “free” program that is embedded in an insurance or disability program but one that not only provides assessement, referrals, counseling and case management, but also provides training, management coaching and consultation and ongoing support to both the employer and employee.

For more information about how we can work with small businesses, contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com

9
Jul

Employee Assistance Programs Lead to Healthier, More Productive Employees

EmployeesMorneau Shepell, the largest Employee Assistance firm in Canada, released a new study that said that intervention through employee assistance programs leads to improved employee mental health and higher productivity, as well as a reduction of 25 percent in costs due to lost productivity.

The study collected data to measure four specific outcomes: general health status, mental health status, productivity, and absenteeism.  Here are some of its findings:

  • Employees rated their mental status 15 percent higher after receiving EAP support.
  • EAP intervention resulted in a 34 percent reduction in costs related to lost productivity.
  • Before EAP intervention, decreased productivity and absence was costing organizations almost $20,000 per employee per year.

75 percent of North American businesses have an employee assistance program and they are a key component of employee benefit plans.  The Morneau Shepell study made two key recommendations:

1. Organizations should develop a more strategic partnership with their EAP provider as a first step in reallizing the return on investment.  The provider can recommend strategies to optimize the use of the EAP as a preventative measure with the objective of saving costs on the bottom line and using the EAP to support the organization’s health priorities.

2. Organizations should consider a strategic approach to absence management, cost management and strategies related to employee engagement and retention.

For more information about this study go to http://bit.ly/kZ2Xx1

While 75 percent of employers may have an EAP, all programs are not alike.  Employers should investigate their vendors to be sure they are meeting the needs of their company. The company contact or HR representative should have a good relationship with their EAP provider, with the ability to consult or to seek management assistance on a range of personnel issues.

Your EAP should be your partner in assisting with your employees’ emotional health.  The more the employee assistance program is supported by management and  promoted and marketed to employees, the more it will be used.

Healthy, happy and engaged employees will save their employers thousands in lost productivity,  morale issues, performance problems and health insurance claims.   Employees who feel supported by their employer will be loyal in both good and bad economic times.

29
Jun

Does Your Company Have a Social Media Policy?


Social media has been a topic of growing concern for employers. We have had managers calling us because their employees are using company time and equipment to update their Facebook accounts, to check email, and to tweet at their workstations repeatedly throughout the day. More and more, employees feel the need to constantly update their “friends” and to be in touch all day.

Social Media has exploded and will continue to be in the forefront of most of our lives. There are more than 500 million active users of Facebook and with more than 50 million active users logging in everyday. Other popular social networking sites include Linkedin, Youtube, Twitter and more are being developed every day.

I attended a recent seminar presented by the employment attorneys at Foster Pepper, a large Seattle law firm. Here is a summary of what I learned:
Most employers are now using social media for advertising, public relations, customer relations, market research, to investigate vendors and service providers, and to investigate candidates for employment. While all of these uses are important and valid, there are risks that employers should be aware of when it comes to employer-sponsored social media. Employers have to deal with a lack of control, employee misconduct, violation of confidentiality, exposure to securities laws and more. Employers must draft a clear policy, designate eligible staff to engage in the company sponsored media, discipline employees for unapproved or improper use and be sure to review and revise posts. Employees must be aware that when engaging in company sponsored social media, they have no privacy rights.
Off duty social media can be very problematic. When does an employee cross the line by talking about their employer on their own Facebook site? Are they disclosing confidential information? Complaining publicly about their boss or co-workers? Disparaging their employer? Is one of your employees cyber stalking a co-working or harassing someone? As an employer, you might want to consider updating your harassment policy to reflect social media issues beause an employer has a legal obligation to investigate if he should have known about harassment issues. The employer could be directly liable and vicariously liable.
People forget or don’t realize that social media is viral, what is said to one person can reach millions. When work issues are posted or tweeted, it goes way beyond office gossip or water cooler talk. Once it is posted, it is very hard to remove. If an employee’s friend posts pictures of her on a beach in Mexico when she was supposed to be on Family Medical Leave or short term disability, all kinds of employment issues may arise.
All employers should have a social media policy which addresses the  following issues:
* Address business use
* Warn that social media is not private
* Suggest care and discretion
* Require compliance with the law and rights of others
* Protect confidential information
* Prohibit false information
* Warn employees that misuse of social media may result in discipline
* Address business use
* Warn that employer controls access and content
* Address personal use and limit to off duty time and own equipment

* Restrict employees to using personal email accounts for personal business
* Prohibit negative conduct that might damage an employer’s reputation, business or mission

In addition to having the policy, it needs to be implemented properly. Train all staff, supervisors and HR staff, distribute to all employees with a signed acknowledgement, enforce the policy in a uniform manner and update the policy with advances in social media.

For a sample social media policy, courtesy of Foster, Pepper, PLLC., please email me at audreyr@fee-eap.com

17
Mar

Workplace Wellness

National Workplace Wellness Week is April 5-11, 2011. It’s a good time for employers to assess the health of their workforce and make plans to improve it. “Workplace wellness programs are critical to improving employee health, increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and lowering health care costs,” says Dr. Craig Thorne, spokesperson for the American Heart Association.

Medical research reports that 145 million American adults are overweight and 74 million are obese, making more than a third of the working-age population at risk for chronic illness. Obesity-related health conditions cost employers about $30 billion per year, according to some studies.

Wednesday has been marked as “Walking Day,” and the groups are encouraging employers to take advantage of free wellness programs, such as Start! and National Start! Walking Day. The programs push employees to walk before, during and after work.

“Getting your employees to walk briskly for just 30 minutes a day can help lower chronic disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure,” says Thorne. “Educating them about basic cardiovascular disease prevention and developing health education programs that focus on lifestyle behavior change is a huge investment that will increase any company’s bottom line,” he adds.

Companies that create opportunities for employees to improve their health while on the job create a culture of wellness that unltimtely generates the best results. Employers who promote and support wellness, tend to have successful programs. While it is difficult to measure a wellness program stictly on the bottom line but it can be evaluated by the cost of health care and absenteeism. Some employers are finding that a successful program can allow them to move to a high-deductible health insurance plan which can significantly cut their annual health premiums. Under these plans, employers can help pay the deductibles and still save money. Some companies allow employees to earn points for participating in healthy activities which can be used to reduce their share in annual health insurance costs.

The Healthy Workforce Act (S.803/H.R.1897) is a bill to improve the health of America’s workforce which would provide a tax credit to businesses to supprt comprehensive workplace wellness programs. It would provide employers with the means to implement evidence-based strategies for improving the health of workers by addressing causes of chronic disease including obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use.

If you would like to implement a wellness program for your company, we have a very low cost on-line program or a very comprehensive program tailored to fit your company’s needs.
Contact us at audreyr@fee-eap.com