Enhancing workplace well-being

Keeping employees healthy and happy at work is about more than just ensuring that they have the medical care they need. It’s also about fostering a commitment to personal well-being that will help employees make better life decisions, miss less work and be more productive on the job.

Employers cannot afford to overlook the well-being of their employees. According to Department of Labor statistics, as referenced in a 2016 Forbes article, “8 Things You Need To Know About Employee Wellness Programs,” wellness programs have been shown to boast an average return on investment (ROI) of about 3:1. Outside of the direct financial gains, companies have seen reductions in employee absenteeism, staff turnover and employee stress. However, even companies with wellness programs aren’t all seeing the desired results.

Through a more integrated employer group wellness model focusing on company well-being assessments, personal coaching, and employee assistance and work-life programs, Humana is showing that a smarter investment in employer group wellness pays dividends for the healthy futures of companies and their workers.

Personal coaching

Not all employees will be able to achieve better well-being all on their own. That’s why a major element of Humana’s well-being strategy is coaching. Humana Wellness Coaching provides individuals with the expert guidance, support, and personal attention they need to make positive health changes and work toward greater balance. Members have access to credentialed health coaches who support members in identifying a long-term vision for their well-being, then developing goals and action plans that support positive change. Coaches provide communication at teachable moments, enabling members to overcome barriers to reaching their goal, whether it’s quitting smoking, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, or something else.

Communications with employees are customized according to individual needs and preferences. Rather than telling people what they must do, coaches enable them to figure out what goals they want to achieve and then support them in taking incremental steps to get there. Throughout the program, coaches rely on positive psychology, building on members’ strengths and successes to help them envision the positive changes and the effect these achievements will have on their lives.

According to a 2016 study of Humana Coaching participants, the positive results are clear for both companies and members.

  • 75 percent lost weight, on average about 10 pounds
  • 59 percent increased their physical activity
  • 56 percent completed their primary program goal
  • 54 percent vigorously exercised for at least 150 minutes each week
  • 40 percent lost more than 5 percent of their body weight
  • 30 percent quit tobacco use six months after enrollment
  • Consumption of fruits and vegetables increased while consumption of fatty foods and sugary beverages decreased

Employee assistance and work-life programs

The concept of work-life balance involves prioritizing both career and personal responsibilities. Humana understands that in practice, however, the boundary between work and life often is blurred, and many employees struggle to find — and maintain — a good balance.

Employees who are distracted by or busy dealing with personal concerns may not be able to focus fully on their professional responsibilities during the workday. Over time, such difficulty in striking a work-life balance can create a cycle of stress that may lead to or exacerbate physical health problems, ranging from headaches and backaches to more serious conditions, such as heart disease.

Ignoring the stressors on employees' lives outside of work has real costs. Job stress is estimated to cost the U.S. more than $300 billion per year — money lost due to a wide range of reasons, including absence, turnover, legal judgments, and direct medical expenses, the American Institute of Stress currently reports. Companies offering flexible work arrangements that include part-time schedules and telecommuting options can help some employees balance work and personal demands. But Humana understands that some employers want to go a step further to assist workers in finding new approaches to balance the components of work, home, community, and self.

That’s where Humana’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and Work-Life Services come in. EAP consultants work with employees to address their issues and can refer them to community services, further counseling, and other employer-sponsored benefits — always taking into account the employees’ preferences, needs, and health coverage. Work-Life specialists carry out research on all types of daily-life needs, and they provide guidance and customized referrals, saving employees and their household members time, effort, and stress.

A company offering services that aid employees in solving their problems quickly helps stave off stress and allows workers to refocus on the tasks at hand during the workday. At an employer level, Humana’s EAP and Work-Life Services can help increase productivity and reduce absenteeism, and as a result, boost the employer’s bottom line.

A well-being strategy that works for companies

Unfortunately, too many employer wellness programs don’t work the way they should or don’t demonstrate that companies are dedicated to their workers’ well-being. Humana’s strategic approach to employer group well-being demonstrates that with a smarter design, actionable data and targeted resources, companies and their employees don’t need to keep paying such a steep price.