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TAKING Wellness to the workplace

17 NOVEMBER 2016

Did you know that organisations that actively promote health and wellbeing are two and a half times more likely to be a best in class performer? That their employees are eight times more likely to be engaged? And perhaps most importantly, that these organisations are four times less likely to lose talent within the year?*

Paul DebrabanderePaul Debrabandere, Deputy Director and member of the Antwerp Wellness Council, is here to present the tools that will get your wellness strategy going and how you can measure the impact of your investments in health and wellbeing.

Why is it important for employers to have a solid health and wellbeing strategy in place for their employees?

This is a very relevant question. Often and especially in the past, the 'why' to invest in health and well-being was approached purely from a financial angle. I do not believe in this short term thinking model. It is indeed financially rewarding for an organisation to invest in health and well-being tools, as it significantly increases performance, engagement and productivity. But there's more to it than the financial side.

Within Cigna, we have identified four major benefits for the employer: productivity, engagement, affordable quality care and being the employer of choice. The last one is even more important than the financial benefits, in my opinion. There is a growing interdependency between work, life and health. And it is increasingly seen as the employer's responsibility to empower and equip their staff with everything they need to perform, both in their private and working environment.

How does Cigna tailor its health and wellbeing initiatives?

Cigna has developed a suite of health services to support our clients in creating a culture of health. And throughout the years, we have introduced many health initiatives, within Cigna and together with our clients. Experience taught us that a tool cannot be 'standard'. Health initiatives need to be tailored or localised so they make sense for both the organisation and the individual. Our advice is to think globally but adapt locally. A health initiative has to be multilingual, but maybe even more importantly, multicultural taking into account background, duty station, eating and sleeping habits etc.

How could these be promoted within the employee population?

Building a sustainable culture of health is a combined effort: from HR, senior management, Cigna, staff associations and the employees. Changing behaviour also doesn't happen overnight. It goes by small steps and it is a continuous process. And when doing this, consistency is important, like always using the same catchy name for your programme and initiating a regular programme re-launch and enhancements to keep it fresh and appealing.

We shouldn't look at all programmes as stand alone. We need to look at them in a holistic way, as they are all complimentary. Eating is linked to stress, stress is linked to sleep and sleep to eating. Approaching health is also multidisciplinary. We need to look at health from all angles: whether it concerns occupational return to work policies, international EAPs, prevention, fun, yoga or training. Many people and departments are involved and need to be consulted in the planning phase.

How does Cigna help its clients create a culture of health?

As I said, creating a culture of health is a continuous process. Organisations that believe that a one-off or one-year investment is sufficient will be disappointed. It is very important to learn and adapt to the many changes in the organisation's environment. The first step is to know your organisation and knowing your people. We help our clients to build their health and well-being roadmap.

Cigna's workplace wellbeing evaluation provides our clients with insights and recommendations for their organisations. The evaluation consists of an interview conducted by our wellness experts with key stakeholders in the organisation, such as the medical division, HR, staff associations and administration. The deliverables are tangible and allow our clients to define the next steps.

Our health assessment tools provide our clients with insights into the health status of their staff. The assessment evaluates people on the four pillars of health as we call them: nutrition, physical activity, sleep and stress. Once insights are gathered, a roadmap can be built, implemented and fine-tuned. We advise clients to go for a year-on-year follow-up and improvement.

How is the impact measured?

One of the steps in the building of a roadmap is to determine which metrics will be used over the years to quantify the impact of the health interventions. For this, I would revert back to the four benefits for employers. For each benefit, the wellness team will define the adequate metrics: productivity, engagement, affordability of care and employer of choice. Again, it's important to note that this is a combined effort. Some of the metrics will come from Cigna, like claims reports and health assessment results, while other metrics like the Bradford factor to measure absence need to come from the organisation itself.

If you would like to know more about our Health & Wellbeing solutions, please contact us.

*Dornan, Alistair et al. The well-being Imperative: Creating More Effective Organizations. DAVOS, Switzerland: World Economic Forum in partnership with Right Management (A Manpower Company), 2010. Web. 21st May 2015.