Why preventative healthcare is so important for workplace wellbeing, and how technology can help
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Benjamin Franklin said that way back in the 18th century. And, by the sounds of it, the United States founding father would be joining the growing movement toward preventative healthcare in workplace wellbeing had he been around today!
The cost of poor workplace wellbeing for employees and employers is well-documented. In 2017/18 alone, the Health and Safety Executive calculated that 22 million UK working days were lost due to work-related stress, anxiety, depression and musculoskeletal disorders. In addition, RAND Europe’s Why Sleep Matters – The Economic Costs of Insufficient Sleep (2016) study found that sleep deprivation costs UK business £40 billion a year. And there is the individual impact on health and wellbeing caused by issues such as burnout, and a sedentary lifestyle that can lead to obesity and cardiovascular disease.
There’s no doubt the headline numbers can be scary, but they can be influenced by being proactive, rather than reactive, when it comes to workplace wellbeing strategy.
Taking early action to prevent serious health issues from developing should form the cornerstone of any company wellbeing programme. It not only saves money in the long run, but can set staff up for a journey toward increased productivity and happiness.
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to spot when people aren't feeling their usual selves or are setting out on a path that can lead to the mental and physical health issues described above. Underlying problems and their causes aren’t always obvious above the surface.
That’s where technology comes in.
As technology advances, and the population continues to adopt it into their daily life, there is a growing opportunity to get in on the ground floor and implement a holistic wellbeing approach that leads staff towards a healthier, happier work-life balance.
Here are a few ways technology can help a preventative healthcare strategy thrive in your workplace.
It is human nature to sometimes shrug things off and have a ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality, even when we have an inkling things are taking a turn for the worse.
Wearable devices or lifestyle assessments can help to provide the objective data that can spark meaningful change. By pinpointing things that may otherwise go unnoticed or ignored – like daily stress levels, sleep quality or the amount of exercise during the day – technology can help people avoid developing bigger issues in the future.
But what happens when you know there are areas of your routine that need addressing to improve wellbeing? Thankfully, in the age of apps, technology is on hand to help here too. There are some great apps out there that encourage mindfulness and support positive mental health. Offering these to staff as part of a wellbeing programme can be the intervention that is needed to maintain a healthy stress-recovery balance.
Remove the guesswork
Businesses can remove the guesswork through technology that allows easy and instant data collection. This lets you base preventative healthcare decisions on firm, scientific ground. From sick days and excessive overtime, to gauging the impact of shift patters on happiness and engagement, decision-makers can use this hard data to spot trends and connections and adapt wellness programmes to focus on the right issues.
A wellness program is only as good as its engagement level among staff, so we should always be trying to create fun methods to boost workplace wellbeing.
Gamifying elements of your wellbeing strategy can help achieve this. For example, tracking the department that racks up the most steps in a month is an engaging way to keep people active and get all areas of the business involved.
The bigger issues preventative healthcare is trying to stop often manifest themselves because individuals have been left alone with their problems. These kind of tech initiatives can help employees start discussions among each other, spurring each other on to improve their health.
This article is provided by Firstbeat
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