Working Towards a Healthier Workplace and Workers
Studies have shown that investing in employee wellness not only helps organizations cut healthcare costs, but also benefit from healthier and a more productive workforce. Healthy employees are less likely to take time off work due to illnesses, and good health is an important contributor to morale. On the other hand, health problems can weigh on employees’ minds, potentially distracting them from achieving their full potential at work.
We are passionate about helping our employees be healthy, and for several years TeleTech has been investing in our employees’ wellness. After surveying the health of our staff members in 2009, we were faced with shocking results—because many of our employees lead a sedentary lifestyle, lower back pain is a major problem while high rates of obesity put them at risk of cardiovascular disease and chronic conditions, like diabetes.
This knowledge of our employee population highlighted the need to take action to, first, educate our staff with the necessary information to help them better take care of their health, secondly, to help them acknowledge that they need to start to take action to become healthier, and finally to enact their healthy lifestyle choices. The necessity for a sound strategy to improve employee wellness was underlined by the realization that employer-covered health expenses are climbing by a steady 8 percent every year. Sometimes individuals don’t realize the extent of their health risks and need to be shocked into accepting that they have a problem so that they will make the necessary changes to their lifestyle.
We started in 2010 with an education campaign, sharing tips that could help them make small but highly effective changes to their lifestyle, including healthy eating habits and exercise. TeleTech made heavy investments in our infrastructure, setting up kiosks where employees could have their blood pressure read, check their body weight, and have their blood checked for glucose and cholesterol levels. Apart from the fact that keeping these at healthy levels entitles staff members to premium discounts, we believe that by making employees aware of their crucial health biometrics, we can spur them into taking positive action that will improve their health. Designated health and wellness generalists are present at the majority of our sites to spearhead these initiatives and every TeleTech employee is provided with company-paid access to telephonic health coaching to help them attain their healthy lifestyle goals, including eating more fruits and vegetables, managing stress, decreasing sugar and sodium intake, and increasing aerobic activity.
The main benefit for the Health and Wellness program is providing employees with programs and tools to make sustainable, positive lifestyle choices for their mind, health, and finances. But, TeleTech also wanted to go a step further in helping employees take action to be healthier. We wanted to incentivize them to lose weight. The chance of winning a large prize is very appealing to our BPO employees so we launched several wellness-related contests. Some 1,500 people took part in the “Lose & Win” competition, losing over 5,000 pounds. Although the prospect of winning an all expenses paid trip to New York was what initially drew employees to take part in the competition, seeing positive changes to their health soon became their main motivation, and many retained their healthy lifestyle even after the competition ended.
This year, we decided to move away from short-term competitions and instead developed a one-year challenge that encourages our workers to take care of their comprehensive health, encapsulating mind, body, and finances—three elements that are often tied together and interdependent on one another.
Further, we want to educate our employees to make the right healthcare decisions. This includes making the most of preventative care and determining the appropriate level of care they need in different circumstances. After noticing that many employees were going to the emergency room for health issues that didn’t require that level of care, we prepared a leaflet explaining the appropriate healthcare setting for different circumstances. For example, a cough can be treated by the patient’s primary doctor or convenience care centers found in most pharmacies, while someone experiencing chest pains should go directly to the emergency room.
We have also invested heavily outside the United States, including on-site clinics in the Philippines that make healthcare more accessible to employees during their working hours. Not only are these clinics convenient for our staff members, but they are instrumental in early detection of treatable conditions.
Healthcare should not be considered as simply a benefit that organizations offer their employees. Giving workers access to healthcare, and educating them on ways to improve their health, is also a long-term investment in both employees’ wellbeing and their contribution to the company’s success.
Tell us how your organization is creating a healthier workplace.