The concept of workplace wellness is still not clear to many employers, and there are several reasons for this. Several employers just disagree that they have some responsibility toward the wellness of their workforce. Although the number of such employers is few, such employers believe the employees themselves should take care of their wellness.
On the other hand, most employers believe that they need to play a vital role in their employees’ physical and mental well-being as it offers many benefits to them and their organization. Fit and healthy employees are more productive, but they also have reduced absenteeism. When the atmosphere at the workplace is healthy, employees undergo less stress, and they also seldom think of leaving the organization.
Interestingly, a clinical trial published by the Journal of the American Medical Association and reported by the New York Times showed that employee wellness program efforts don’t provide any substantial benefit in terms of healthcare savings. More importantly, it doesn’t impact employee health that much. Nevertheless, workplace wellness is of paramount importance and, fortunately, more and more employers are beginning to realize this.
Lack of wellness programs in the workplace
The problem with some employers is that they have no idea whatsoever about quality workplace wellness programs. Even though workplace wellness programs have been in existence for four decades now, there is a lot of confusion about what exactly they are. In some cases, there is also confusion over how to achieve workplace wellness.
The healthcare system in the United States has the most expensive in the world, but you can prevent 80 percent of chronic ailments. As a result, employers constantly experience a higher healthcare expenditure every year. Employers would not have to spend much on their employees’ healthcare if they focused on quality workplace wellness.
Obstacles to workplace wellness
The main barrier to workplace wellness is that our healthcare system focuses on treating symptoms rather than adopting preventive measures. Throughout the United States, only five percent of the healthcare budget is spent on preventative measures despite 80 percent of the diseases being preventable. Hospitals and doctors receive vast amounts of money to treat conditions and not prevent them. Even the insurance companies are happy when the healthcare costs go up. There is hardly any incentive for developing a sound healthcare system that can effectively prevent people from falling ill. Employers seldom invest in creating a workplace atmosphere that promotes their employees’ sound mental and physical health.
Present workplace wellness scenario
Currently, most workplace wellness programs focus only on fitness and weight loss regimes. These are undoubtedly important, but only these cannot help achieve the absolute wellness of the employees. Although many employers encourage their workforce to visit doctors and undertake various tests, they are of little use because the doctors are not trained to prevent or reverse ailments. They mainly suggest treatment through medication. Some even offer surgery, but these are expensive and not healthy and have side effects.
Absence of functional or holistic medicine
Today, there is a nearly total lack of functional or holistic medicine, sometimes referred to as alternative medicine, in the workplace. When we talk about functional medicine, we mean studying how the body functions and the use of natural treatments to prevent and reverse chronic ailments. Scientific studies have backed such natural remedies. Prevention and reversal of chronic diseases are important as studies have shown that over 80 percent of such conditions can be prevented. Findings of studies published in medical journals like Lancet Oncology have shown that functional medicine is highly effective in ensuring wellness, including workplace wellness.
Introduction of functional medicine
The shift from allopathic to functional medicine in the workplace is difficult at present and a time-consuming process. While the majority of the doctors, hospitals, and, of course, drug manufacturers will oppose the change, many employers are also skeptical. However, it is the employers who will have to take the first steps as the wellness of their employees should be top on their and their organization’s priority list. Embracing functional medicine will considerably reduce the insurance premiums they are paying for their employees and ensure that their employees remain healthy and raise their productivity.
How to achieve functional medicine
There are several ways employers can introduce functional medicine in the workplace. Below are a few basic steps:
- Funding: Employers need to spend at least $100-$200 for each employee every year to get the best results from their wellness program.
- Functional medicine: Instead of going by the conventional treatment, employers need to embrace functional medicine to help their workforce prevent chronic ailments. Traditional medicine should only be used when it is backed by scientific research.
- Audit wellness plan: Employers need to use an audit tool to assess the existing wellness programs in the organizations and subsequently develop a quality program with a focus on specific targets. Employers can also set up medical panels at the workplace to ensure that their wellness plans are implemented effectively.