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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Employee Wellness - Going Beyond Weight!

There has been much discussion both in the blogosphere and in the media about obesity and healthcare costs, but I think it is a mistake for wellness programs to focus all of their resources on weight issues. Wellness programs can be an opportunity to educate employees about multiple health issues. The National Health Observance Calendar is an excellent place to begin. Each month, the focus is on a different ( sometimes many different) health observances. Each one represents an opportunity to touch an employee and remind them to take care of themselves.

Sometimes, wellness programs need to take a gentler approach to begin with. There is heightened sensitivity amongst employees towards programs that appear as if they are poking around too much into employees private lives. If an employer truly cares about the "whole employee" and a wellness program is billed as a program that a corporation implements because they care about the employee, then all aspects of health education and health promotion should be explored. Turning the spotlight on employees that are overweight or employees that smoke without looking at the whole picture could backfire. Not that those are not critical factors in escalating health costs, but if we take a more encompassing approach, employees won't react in a negative way and might be less likely to shut the doors on employer intervention.

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