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How To Create Workplace Health & Wellness Strategies For Effective Leadership

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Written in collaboration with Dr. Stella Muloongo

In light of the recent outbreak of a coronavirus originating in Wuhan, China, now officially known as COVID-19, we’ve collaborated with Stella Muloongo, a medical doctor who graduated from Fudan University in Shanghai, China to share insights on how medical pandemics can be innovatively managed through effective workplace wellness strategies. With medical experience spanning various countries, Stella has spent most of her time in China, mainly at Zhongshan Hospital and Huashan Hospital, in addition to rotations in Sydney, Auckland and Johannesburg.

The novel coronavirus is a new health challenge for our time. As a physician, Dr Muloongo understands the price paid on the frontlines of the healthcare battlefield. Former colleagues at the epicentre of COVID-19 in Wuhan and many more in her former city, Shanghai are fighting so that those infected with COVID-19 have the best chance of recovery. While there are still deaths on both sides and reports flood in about the spread of the virus across EMEA and the USA, there is hope in recent news of the decrease in new cases within Asia and increased patient recoveries starting to outpace new cases.

Lessons have been learnt from COVID-19’s genetic cousins SARS and MERS, and in such crises, we’ve learnt that decisive action early on is our best defence. As we continue to learn from each case of medical pandemics, steps in containment and treatment usually require great sacrifice and a unified front from the scientific community, governments and the general population.

The Background

There are hundreds of coronaviruses but only seven are known to cause humans illness, of which only three have been known to cause serious harm; SARS (2002), MERS (2012) and now COVID-19 (2019). Our history of fighting these strains of the virus has generated mass amounts of data and resources. However, due to the infrequent nature of these threats, frontline healthcare workers usually have to sift through outdated materials, learning as they go, changing and adapting to on-the-spot information as each strain’s unique identifiers are discovered and eventually treated. Despite knowing the importance of sharing information freely amongst the world’s health communities, statistics, successes and failures are manipulated on the global publicity stage to better reflect a country’s response, approach and effectiveness.

The Future

So how useful is a country’s public response in creating the necessary results in public health, primary care and preventive education? What kind of workplace wellness strategies can support governmental efforts in containing the spread of a virus? How can public service announcements effectively help combat the fear that an outbreak causes?

Dr Muloongo believes the answers at the core of all these questions lies in science, technology and the digital transformation of the healthcare system; in actionable knowledge and education that are made accessible to all. She asks, “can technology, care-based approaches and preventive measures be combined to form a healthcare system of the future so that the news is no longer the source of our healthcare education in a crisis?”

New problems require new solutions, and amid the current COVID-19 outbreak we reflect on the world’s response to the most recent fight for the healthcare of tomorrow.

What has worked well in China

  • Insurers have created mini-sites on COVID-19 for their policyholders, with links to information and appropriate healthcare facilities to contact for health checks.
  • Corporate businesses are investing in telemedicine providers, generating the largest-scale adoption and integration of telemedicine technology since its inception. This is particularly prevalent in the healthcare industry, an industry renowned for being overly traditional, process-heavy and slow to digitally transform. Newly-built hospitals in Wuhan, like Huoshenshan Mountain Hospital (note of which was constructed in only ten days), telemedicine is playing a major part in patient monitoring in isolation wards, as in other Wuhan hospitals, progressing China rapidly towards a value-based healthcare system.
  • The government used popular social media platforms AliPay and WeChat with a green, yellow and red traffic-light system on people’s mobile phones helping officials determine if the user should be allowed past guards at checkpoints.

What has worked well in Singapore

  • Singapore’s Ministry Of Health website has the most up-to-date, concise and relevant information available to the population on COVID-19. The real-time, accurate resources and intuitive site design has even garnered praise from the WHO. Publishing geographic clusters where increased numbers of infections occur, and baseline details on confirmed cases, this educational tool allows the general public to avoid higher risk areas around the island and encourages the sharing of information on affected cases of COVID-19. By empowering the average person and dispelling fears of the medical situation, the population responds effectively, containing and reducing infection. What is happening in Singapore is an example of value-based preventive healthcare in action.
  • DBS, Singapore’s largest bank is offering all their customers and their immediate family complimentary COVID-19 relief insurance coverage to further cushion affected patients’ expenses. The COVID-19 Hospital Cash policy is a 30-day free coverage that provides a daily cash benefit for hospital confinement and a lump sum payout for ICU confinement in relation to the virus. It also provides worldwide coverage for policyholders who must travel during this period.
  • In order to uncover COVID-19 infections that may have otherwise evaded detection, Singapore’s health authorities decided early on to test all influenza-like and pneumonia cases, implementing a rigorous detection and quarantine schedule free of charge for all its citizens. The government also offers SGD100 per day for self-employed citizens in quarantine, and prevents corporate employers from subtracting quarantine days from an employees holiday leave. Singapore still maintains zero deaths from COVID-19, despite being the first country with the second most infections outside of China in the initial stages of the outbreak.

What has worked well across Asia

  • Several new medical training courses on COVID-19, such as a recent one by MDBriefcase, are now available for medical professionals. These courses are a good start for basic knowledge on the virus itself and sharing of new treatment information including new medications and vaccinations as and when they become available.
  • By February 1st, aggressive travel restrictions early on in countries like Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore contravened WHO’s initial insistence that travel bans were not necessary. The precautions came at a significant economic cost to these international hubs, which all rely on mainland China as their biggest trading partner and source of tourists. Looking retrospectively just 6 weeks later these countries’ low reported cases prove that decisive action early on wins.
  • Following SARS in 2003, Taiwan established a central command center for epidemics. By Jan. 20, it was coordinating the government’s response to the coronavirus. It quickly compiled a list of 124 “action items,” including border controls, school and work policies, public communication plans and resource assessments of hospitals, according to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Taiwan, just 81 miles from mainland China, was expected to have among the highest number of imported cases, but it has now tallied just 50 cases—fewer than Slovenia.

Lessons from the healthcare industry

  • Further improvements have been made in the field regarding nosocomial mismanagement, addressing the large scale infection of healthcare workers, although there is still a way to go.
  • Measures have been taken to change the way COVID-19 is diagnosed including the necessary time gap required before positive results are given. Improvements in clinical diagnostic criteria has led to better management of patients with pneumonia symptoms and are treated as potential COVID-19 cases until cleared.
  • Public health is about collaboration; only in unity can things progress forward. Public health efforts in China meant the sharing of COVID-19’s DNA structure with the world allowing rapid research into medications, vaccines and the creation of test kits.
  • Continued development of medical and public health courses including the latest data and research to support current treatment protocols, quickest diagnostic methods and the most effective vaccinations and medications to prescribe, creating a dynamic learning environment.

Implications for businesses

A recent executive study by McKinsey & Company “COVID-19: Implications for business” (authored by Matt Craven, Linda Liu, Mihir Mysore, and Matt Wilson) looks at the growing impact of COVID-19 on the global economy. Providing business leaders with a perspective on the evolving situation and implications for their companies, Table 1 outlines three possible economic situations.

Protecting your employees

Looking specifically at a short-term contingency plan to manage an outbreak like COVID-19, senior business leaders should look to:

  • Follow the most stringent guidelines from leading global healthcare organisations such as WHO, CDC and local health authorities.
  • Communicate frequently with your employees and through the right channels, making sure employees that are affected directly receive more targeted support.
  • Benchmark your efforts with others in your industry for example; limiting non-essential travel, ensuring a work from home rotation schedule to reduce the number of employees at one site.
  • Support your CEO with setting up a cross-functional response team of senior leaders that guarantees decisive action and a stable line of communication to reduce workforce anxiety.
  • Consider scenarios of 30, 90, 180 and 365 days and model out workforce management plans.

Develop a 4E’s workplace wellness strategy

Once short-term business continuity planning is complete, next look at a more robust workplace wellness strategy that can weather all manner of workforce crises:

Evaluate

  • Evaluate your current situation including previously run employee programs, employee net promoter scores, budgets, current initiatives and leadership buy-in. Look at the current employee handbook on flexible and remote working practices, on-site protocols and office-based policies. Ideally, interview a range of employees and ask the tough questions about how they feel about their current work environment and working options.

Employ

  • Whether this be investing in a new technology, the creation of a wellness committee, setting up a mini-site in the employees’ portal or the identification of wellness champions, look to create a culture of wellness through each and every employee. New digital platforms offer value to all staff, and encourage the use of innovation to find workarounds that may create longer-term efficiencies in the way the company runs. Be sure to align everyone’s vision on what a healthy workplace looks like, and correlate that with the data you’ve collected in your evaluation stage.

Engage

  • The key to engaging employees is consistency; whether that be in frequency and tone of communications, resources provided, new technologies you invest in or who you target first, creating sustained behavioural change stems from healthy habits from the core of your wellness strategy. Remember that one size doesn’t fit all and a culture of mass personalisation will ensure your workforce feel the company has provided a range of solutions that suit them.

Expand

  • After the first 30, 60, 90 and 180 days, evaluate, adjust and start to expand across the organisation. This could be to regional offices that weren’t previously included, or centralised global headquarters. The importance of this stage is to ensure lessons have been learnt from previous situations and the company is better prepared for what might come next by rolling out the strategy into every area of the company culture. This means collaboration from all departments to ensure everyone is pulling together for success.

In Conclusion

The modern challenges that HR business leaders face provide a volatile, unpredictable new work environment that needs to be expertly navigated to ensure human capital strategies support public health and local government efforts. The global workforce needs to be given flexible, practical and relevant measures to follow to maintain corporate productivity while also protecting employees’ health and wellbeing. If you want more information or would like to talk to one of our consultants you can contact us here.

References

  • Current studies on key risk factors of COVID-19: Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51540981
  • MOH Singapore COVID-19: https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19 (Current updates) https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/past-updates (Past updates)
  • ARV use treating COVID-19: https://news.cgtn.com/news/2020-01-26/Beijing-confirms-use-of-anti-HIV-drugs-to-treat-novel-coronavirus-NyWfDcmeZi/index.html
  • https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/06/health/coronavirus-treatments.html
  • Cured COVID-19 patient plasma for treating severe cases of COVID19: Coronavirus Outbreak: Plasma from recovered patients used as treatment https://news.cgtn.com/news/77416a4e354d4464776c6d636a4e6e62684a4856/index.html
  • https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/coronavirus-china-asks-recovered-patients-to-donate-blood-for-plasma-treatment
  • Previously used for H1N5 (swine flu) &H1N1 (bird flu) as well as in SARS https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15616839
  • MDbriefcase COVID-19 course: https://www.mdbriefcase.net/resources/coronavirus/content/index.html#/
  • https://www.mdbriefcase.com/course/a-canadian-healthcare-providers-guide-to-the-novel-coron
  • https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/coronaviruses
  • https://time.com/5802293/coronavirus-covid19-singapore-hong-kong-taiwan/
  • https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/20200312-sitrep-52-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=e2bfc9c0_2 facts true as of 12 March 2020
  • https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/risk/our-insights/covid-19-implications-for-business
  • https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html
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Is Your Workplace Well?

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Written by Victoria Gilbert, Associate Director, Workplace Advisory Corporate Solutions Asia, Colliers International

Wellness is becoming a strategic priority for companies across the globe. Over the past few years in there has been a significant uptake and rapid growth of wellness building projects in Asia Pacific – which looks set to continue.

Business leaders have identified the ‘war for talent’ as their number one challenge in the region. Millennials – set to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025 – are more focused on their own well-being, changing expectations of the ‘employee experience’. And, research shows that shows failing to take wellness into consideration has serious consequences for productivity and the bottom line. 

It is therefore vital for companies to consider how they can embed wellness into the built environment, develop effective organisational policies, and positively influence employee behaviour.

Industry needs to address the pain points of these companies – by developing services to improve well-being at scale, leveraging new technologies to facilitate the journey, and providing ways to measure the impacts. For many, the focus is shifting from ‘what’ wellness is and ‘why’ it’s important, and asking ‘how’ to build effective wellness programmes, and quantify the benefits to employee and corporate performance. As the wellness industry develops more tools to answer these questions, companies will be more willing to commit time and resources to implementing them.

Serious businesswoman in protective mask looking at screen of laptop in working environment

Given that we spend 90 per cent of our time inside, especially in urban environments like Hong Kong, and that indoor air can be more polluted than outside it is essential to ensure the air we are breathing is high quality. Poor air quality, including high carbon dioxide levels, is linked to increased risk of disease and decreased productivity. Providing clean air not only has a clear health benefit but also gives a psychological edge – it’s peace of mind. Leveraging big data and apps to consistently monitor and communicate this to employees is extremely effective.

We were born to move. Some companies are addressing this through office design by creating circulation routes to ensure people are moving throughout the day. Some have fewer printers or a centralised area for bins so people are naturally compelled to walk and socialise. You’ll also find height-adjustable desks or standing desks that team members use for a break from sitting all day. All of this helps to increase movement and step count – making for healthy internal competitions! Using a digital platform or wearable can be a great driver for healthy habits across the business and a great way to see improvements over time.

Efforts to enhance wellness can encounter multiple challenges, from budget limitations to a lack of staff or management buy-in. It’s crucial for corporates to create a wellness strategy that’s core to a business and its employees, and not just an add-on. This will help practitioners narrow the gap between the growing understanding of the field of wellness and effectively engaging with industry experts to execute it.

How Do You Bring Wellness Into Your Workplace?

Here are ten top tips to improve the work environment for you and your employees.

  • Improve air quality – air pollution kills 7 million people every year.
  • Ensure you’re drinking enough water – dehydration reduces cognitive performance and energy levels by up to 20%.
  • Reduce sound distractions – exposure to unwanted sound reduces concentration by 66%.
  • Get comfortable – 85% of people in Asia suffer one or more musculoskeletal conditions annually
  • Make the most of natural light – employees seated within 10 feet of a window reported an 84% decrease in eyestrain, headaches, and blurred vision symptoms.
  • Focus on your mind and wellbeing – 25% of people report work as the number one stressor in their lives.
  • Embrace nature and green materials – adding plants to the workplace can result in a 58% reduction in depression, 44% in hostility and 37% in anxiety and fatigue.
  • Get moving – physical inactivity is the 4th highest risk factor in global mortality.
  • Be more conscious about nourishment – 1 in 5 deaths are linked to band diets globally.
  • Build a sense of community – the average human requires 6 hours of social interaction per day to maintain overall wellbeing.

To read the article in full, find out more about Colliers International Corporate Workplace Advisory Solutions or contact Victoria Gilbert click here.

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How Healthtech Can Support UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #3

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Written by Natalie L. The Daily Escape

Good health and well-being – the United Nation’s 3rd sustainable development goal (SDG) – is a crucial consideration for future generations but as a goal, it isn’t one that’s so easily attained. With ambitious targets of increasing life expectancy and decreasing maternal/ infant death rates universally, this SDG was previously thought of as a near-impossible feat to achieve. However, with recent technological developments—especially within the area of healthtech, this goal has become less far-fetched and perhaps even attainable in the not-so-distant future.

Healthtech, also known as digital health, aims to simplify and improve various healthcare processes. Modern examples of healthtech in action include electronic patient databases, fitness gadgets and mobile health applications, all of which make tracking health records more streamline. In the pursuit of UN’s 3rd SDG, here are 3 key areas of healthcare which healthtech promises to revolutionize. 

Communicable Diseases

Remember the SARs outbreak in 2003? Or the swine flu in 2009? Or even the recent Ebola epidemic? These are some major examples of outbreaks of communicable, or infectious, diseases. In preventing these outbreaks, early identification and containment are key, and thermal cameras are the epitome of how healthtech comes in handy.

Thermal cameras are probably familiar to those who travel often. These cameras make use of infrared rays to screen travellers for fever symptoms, flagging those who carry signs of infection. Recently, minuscule thermal cameras have also been incorporated into smartphone covers. They send information as “heat waves” to mobile applications, which then translate the information into body temperatures. Such technology makes screening for communicable diseases much less obtrusive and more streamlined.

Non-communicable Diseases

In recent years, diabetes, hypertension and many other non-communicable diseases have taken over infectious diseases as the major causes of death in both the developing and developed countries. To combat this, WellteQ has rolled out fitness-tracking devices, wearables and applications to promote health-conscious behaviours in the public, especially office workers. Some of WellteQ’s current efforts include early screening, health education and health-promoting programmes at workplaces. With a humble background but rapidly-expanding venture, WellteQ has paved the way for digital health innovation to tackle metabolic and other non-communicable diseases.

Mental Health

It’s not surprising to hear how more and more employees can reporting higher levels of stress and lower levels of life satisfaction. As the workplace becomes a more competitive environment, many feel the pressure to “up their game” or risk obsolescence. The accumulative effect of this, as well as the weight of other personal commitments, can have a negative impact on sleep and restfulness, both of which have been shown to be key mechanisms in mental conditions such as depression and anxiety. Healthtech monitoring can serve as a powerful “first strike”  when it comes to addressing such issues. Features such as sleep tracking and mindfulness reminders are small but effective means of assisting an individual with identifying and remedying symptoms as they emerge.

Healthcare Records

This millennium, the development of electronic patient records is probably the best gift to doctors, nurses, allied healthcare professionals and most importantly, patients. The streamlining of the patient’s medical records enables healthcare professionals to better understand their patients’ past medical history. In turn, this empowers them to make the most appropriate treatment decisions for patients. This is just one way in which digital health has revolutionised a key process in healthcare delivery; we expect to see even more game-changing healthtech innovations in time to come.

How Healthtech Enlivens The Workplace

With regard to the UN’s SDG #3, successful integration of healthtech can make monitoring health and physical activity a much more streamlined and convenient for both employers and employees. Incentives can be tied to certain milestones as a means of motivation which can translate into tangible benefits for the company; healthy workers are efficient workers after all.

Taking a look at the bigger picture, such technology can also be used to fuel community-minded pursuits. Charity events and other CSR-related projects thrive on connectivity, and healthtech bridges the gap between workforces that are otherwise separated by geographical constraints. By elevating the level of social involvement, workers feel empowered to be more invested in their work. This can also translate into a greater sense of unity, turning what is otherwise a bland and faceless company into a family of sorts.

Healthtech is powerful: it holds great potential to induce significant growth in the healthcare industry through the incorporation of various emerging technologies and platforms, bringing us much closer to attaining UN’s 3rd SDG of good health and well-being. The possibilities with healthtech are endless and the impact, boundless. Who can say what else lies beyond the horizon?

References:
– https://healthinformatics.uic.edu/blog/the-role-of-health-tech-in-stopping-the-spread-of-epidemics/
– https://www.galengrowth.asia/2016/07/13/the-power-of-healthtech-singapore-in-one-view/
– https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/health/

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EAP: The Baby Boomer Of Corporate Wellness

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The strategy behind WellteQ’s mental health partnerships

Over the last few months wellteq have orchestrated two new partners – Medibio and Lysn. But why and what does this mean for the user and our clients?  Is it a ‘me too’ capability or is it something different in the industry?

These are questions worth answering and to do so I want to share insight into the thinking behind our strategy. Our partnerships are the basis for what we will be building towards in the years ahead. Through introducing our improved system of personalised health management, we will provide what has historically been an unrealised value from EAP and corporate wellness programs.

In essence, the partners extend value to a wellteq user in two ways;

  1. Objective mental health screening 
  2. 1:1 tele-psychology consultations.

Independently these are very powerful capabilities, and when added to our digital health platform, introduce a long overdue innovation to bring proactive risk-based interventions to health coaching.

Who Really Needs It?

Meet 46-year-old Dave. A father of two pre-teenage children who has been a loyal mid-level manager for the last twelve years at the same company. He’s guilty of some middle-aged spread (who isn’t?), he drinks but has three alcohol-free days per week, and his new year’s resolution of running around the block three times a week died over winter, again. Dave is also more stressed at work this year, in fact over the last few years found he’s not sleeping as well as he used to. School fees are not getting cheaper and neither are family holidays, Dave’s boss, unfortunately, has had to hold off the promotion again and his wife wants him to upgrade the bathroom. 

  • Is Dave stressed? Certainly. 
  • Does Dave have a mental illness? Unlikely, but unsure. 
  • Could Dave be helped with knowing a bit more about his mental health? Absolutely. 

Dave’s story isn’t unique to just Dave. He could be 26 or 56 years old. Dave could be a Melissa or Tony, May or Tom. He could be any one of us. Dave could be you.

Like most of us in today’s hectic world, Dave’s problem is not singular and there are a few factors at play. No one problem is urgent enough to do anything about immediately, but collectively they build up and over a period of time, Dave moves past quick fixes and easy solves that require days and weeks, and moves into needing ongoing help and support that can last for months and years.

Health today is not just about a run around the block and saying ‘no’ to the second helping of dessert. Mental health challenges, and most notably, the lack of fundamental education or regular screening, are central to some of the fastest rises in medical costs, accidents and comorbidities. The prevalence of mental illness is sky-rocketing and we’re not sure how to get ahead of it. 

“Mental health challenges, and most notably, the lack of fundamental education or regular screening, are central to some of the fastest rises in medical costs, accidents and comorbidities.”

The OECD cites “mental disorders account for one of the largest and fastest growing categories of the burden of disease worldwide.. with one in every two people experiencing a mental illness in their lifetime”. Statistics from workplace mental health studies are consistent with the global trends, and a recent study evaluating global case data over 3 years uncovered that combined, employee depression, stress and anxiety accounted for 82.6% of all emotional health cases.


The facts are clearly there, and when multi-billion dollar life insurers are trying to get ahead of the problem it’s time to take notice. Munich Re shares “Mental disorders have not only become the second most common cause of sick leave– they are now also the most common cause of early retirement due to illness” Historically, mental health disorders have been a relatively difficult set of illnesses to detect, assess and treat. The increasing burden is not just felt by healthcare budgets, and insurers and employers who are bearing the brunt of escalating costs look for new solutions on how to better deal with this global critical situation.

The Problem Is Growing, But What Resources Do Employers Have?

For decades employers have had access to a solution called Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). EAP stems from the 1930’s where it was originally introduced to assist people with the effects of too much drinking on the job. True story. It has, of course, evolved significantly to what it is today; a stand-alone service where employees have access to psychological counselling to help deal with both work and out-of-work demands. It’s a powerful solution for certain use cases, but as with any deep expertise, it has its limitations in broader usage.

In the current EAP model, the onus is on the individual to seek a counsellor of their own volition or wait for a critical incident response. There’s little to no individual risk profiling or personalised recommendations, leaving the individual to self-assess and evaluate what they might need and when they might need it. There is little proactivity and when a user does try to seek help, the experience is often difficult to navigate and time-consuming, utilisation rates are low and companies investing in EAP are increasingly unsatisfied.

For the HR department, organisational reporting is commonly static, retrospective and extremely light on valuable insights other than month-to-month utilization figures. Employee surveys frequently highlight difficulties in navigating EAP portals, confusion in asking permission when booking sessions and general reluctance to share confidential personal information. 

Let’s revisit Dave’s case again. 

Dave’s company offers EAP. He’s seen posters and heard that there’s a number he can call but not looked any further because he’s got more important work to do, and besides after quick self-evaluation, he’s not depressed, he’s just a bit overworked. Dave decides to soldier on until his next holiday in a few months. And so the pattern continues. Dave’s HR department keep EAP because it has been offered to staff since long before current management was there, and even though utilisation of EAP globally is between 2-4% on average, no one gets fired for buying IBM. Why rock the boat? 

” The World Health Organisation recognises mental health as a major concern estimating depression and anxiety alone to cost the global economy over US $1 Trillion per year in lost productivity.”

But a shift is happening, and thankfully with rapid developments in technology, today’s capabilities are fast improving. Mental health is becoming a boardroom topic with consistent media coverage in many countries. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognise mental health as a major concern, identifying the workplace as a ripe opportunity for mitigation. WHO established the Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2030) outlining relevant principles, objectives and implementation strategies to promote good mental health in the workplace. They calculate depression and anxiety alone to cost the global economy over US $1 Trillion per year in lost productivity. Let that sink in $1 Trillion, that’s about enough to buy Apple – the most valuable company on earth.

Encouragingly, attitudes towards mental wellness have turned a corner in the last few years with initiatives like Movember, Beyond Blue, RUOK and Mental Health Month. Generally, more people are open to talking and learning more about mental health, and with awareness comes support on a grander scale. In 2013, Canada established a national standard in workplace psychological wellbeing, led by Dr Joti Samra which in time will become an International Standard. Mental health, however, is not an annual event. With our busy lives absorbing new and different stresses we need something proactive, automated and convenient to stay on top of things.

The Rise Of Technology’s Role In Wellness

Technology is perpetually enhancing incumbent practices that were seen as the height of innovation at the time of their discovery. For example, Body Mass Index (BMI), invented as a best available weight indication of its time in the 1970s has now been superseded by better science and new technology to provide more accurate outcomes. EAP has a similar story, existing long before IoT, mobile living and digital interconnectedness. But just as body measurements have progressed from height and weight ratios to present-day bioimpedance and AI assessments, so too must workplace wellbeing programs advance in identification and support of employee mental health challenges. 

Corporate wellness, like almost all other industries, is undergoing continued digital transformation. Until early 2000s our industry was almost exclusively offering wellness programs in-person – on-site fitness classes, face-to-face health assessments, lunchtime seminars, workplace massages; the list goes on. 

“Early trends in the digital transformation of the wellness industry tended to overcorrect on-site solutions with purely digital solutions, which also weren’t as effective as a hybrid offering.”

The trend was to then overcorrect towards more pure digital solutions – online platforms offering questionnaires and mass sharing of health articles.  While technology can certainly be more economical, dispersing information easily and scaling quickly, something was missing when it came to connecting with lowly engaged or high-risk individuals. We knew that the best results were usually derived from both personalised experiences and contact with other people, whether that be virtually or face-to-face. We’re now seeing that a hybrid approach gives the scale offered by technology combined with the outcomes offered by rapport and expert consultation.

Retrospectively, it’s not surprising a hybrid model is the best course of action. Technology is greatly superior to humans at many things, and for the wellness industry it’s the ability to calculate and automate:

  1. Speed: By analysing high volumes of health risk profiling data points, blood tests, surveys, granular wearable data etc, algorithms are able to screen people against a global databank and share recommendations personalised to each user. This processing takes a human exponentially longer than an algorithm. 
  2. Follow up: All too often life gets in the way of following up on mental wellbeing. Immediately after receiving results from a health assessment the individual usually understands the importance of taking action, but often the urgency of today’s calendar quickly de-prioritises the next steps they should take. Machine-driven intelli-nudges ensures the individual is reminded until an action has been completed, whether that’s reading an article, setting a goal, or booking an appointment. 
  3. Personalisation: The integration of face-to-face care with a skilled professional that closely matches the needs and personality of the individual ensures personalised care is given at the right time without a templated response, and is scheduled accordingly.

This hybrid approach offers a significantly stronger probability for successful intervention.

Why Are Corporate Wellness Programs So Important?

Wellness empowers people. Typically a workplace wellness program is for the persona that could and should do something about their health but never really get around to committing. If we’re honest with ourselves, this actually incorporates most of us. Wellness is often linked with incentives like rewards or prizes, gamification and challenges. It helps people overcome inertia and get back on the health bandwagon. Wellness programs are able to take serious, often confronting topics like diabetes or depression and make it digestible and more relatable. 

Typically corporate wellness solutions around the globe see an average uptake of ~ 20-40% of employees within an organisation and help prevent some problems from happening, delay others from happening sooner and reduce the impact of those problems that do happen. Where corporate wellness solutions have come up short in some eyes is that they either don’t help those in a time of need like in consultation-based treatment, or its one-size-fits-all approach, which typically only work for the already healthy people within an organisation. 

Livongo Case Study

Livongo is a chronic illness management company based in the US and have recently listed on the NASDAQ. In October 2019 they announced a contract in the US to provide their diabetes solution to 5 million eligible members covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program under one health plan. Through a carefully planned strategic partnership with innovative telemedicine provider Teladoc, Livongo is able to offer telehealth services that give users access to behavioural health, dermatology care, minor acute care and counselling for substance abuse disorders all from their mobile phone. Livongo is a unicorn twice over whose expertise is amplified by partnering with complementary capabilities. 

Wellteq’s strategy to extend functionality with expert partners is not dissimilar. 

The Partnership Equation: 1+1=11

As an exercise physiologist, my peers and I have often been described as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none. Ingrained in our training is that while in general, we are valuable for many people, it’s imperative that we refer patients for specialist areas for optimum care. This concept has been central to our partnership strategy at WellteQ. We’ve identified mental health as an area that while we introduce some material value, we know that to really make a difference, we needed to partner with experts in the respective fields. 

We’ve sought out and partnered with two very complementary companies that can help us better detect and support mental health risks in our users.

Medibio analyses responses to a combination of globally validated psychological questionnaires and correlates passively collected sleep patterns via Garmin and Fitbit wearables. The algorithm indicates risks within major pillars of mental health. The power in this is two-fold; past subjective responses are now able to be assessed objectively; data can now be passively collected for ongoing monitoring presenting opportunities to educate the user on when risk increases and decreases. Armed with these invaluable insights, intervention is automated to provide personalised support and round-the-clock care. That’s a lot more powerful than waiting for someone in an overwhelmed state to take action for themselves. 

Lysn can match a person with a psychologist based on key need and personality traits. Offering face-to-face services and virtual consultation through telephone and video conferencing users can be paired with over 500 psychologists consulting in 11 languages in most countries around the world. Having a wide-reaching network ensures users have an enriched access to appointment times and locations that suit them rather than one that suits the physician.  Virtual consultations allows the call to be taken whenever and wherever is most convenient, improving the likelihood of utilisation, and proving especially helpful for remote and mobile workforces.


WellteQ seamlessly glues it all together by offering personalised employee wellness via a smartphone. A connected health coach in your pocket integrates wearables, behaviour prompts, team and individual programs, social content, rewards and now objective mental health screening that refers to telepsychology for the complete end-to-end solution. Intelli-nudges and smart monitors ensure an individual can be alerted in real-time during peak periods of high-risk, and telepsychology enabled for smartphones allows consultation with a health professional at a time that’s convenient for you, me and Dave.

Summary

WellteQ are a digital wellness company with a specialist offering in employee mental health.  For now, our immediate focus is to quickly deploy this fundamental wellbeing offering before we extend our coaching capabilities into nutrition, exercise and sleep.

We believe the majority of healthcare (or is ‘sickcare’ a more accurate term nowadays?) spend can be prevented, or at the very least reduced by improving lifestyle habits. We’re much more likely to achieve sustained healthy behaviour change if we first address our own mental wellbeing back to, or closer to an equilibrium. 

It’s an exciting time for our industry, come and join us.

Written by Scott Montgomery, CEO and Founder of WellteQ

Learn More

Press release for Wellteq and Medibio

Press release for Wellteq and Lysn 

www.wellteq.co 

www.medibio.com.au

www.welysn.com 

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wellteq Talks: SDG#3 – Good Health and Wellbeing For All

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What are the sustainable development goals and what do they mean for the everyday worker around the globe? Dr Sandy Chong from UNAAWA discusses with Scott Montgomery on this latest episode of wellteq Talks.

https://youtu.be/iVAMkqFr4fw

To discuss how our digital wellness solution can benefit your workforce, contact the wellteq team.

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Toll Logistics Wellness Program Launches

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After months in the making, the personalised wellness program has launched, in time with a newly published corporate video that highlights the data-rich environment the joint platform creates for employers

New Video Supports Launch

wellteq is pleased to update on the April launch of the Toll Logistics application and the newly produced wellness partner video in readiness for a joint marketing push into the 47-billion-dollar global corporate wellness market with MyFiziq.

New video shows the future of AI-driven wellness

Wide-reach Over The Next Year

The platform will be launched on an initial 2,400 employees in April whilst building out the usage to the remaining 18,000 employees over the following 12 months. The newly launched video demonstrates the logistics use case and advanced analytics with the combined wellteq / MyFiziq solution. The video is set to articulate the data-rich environment created when these two applications are brought together.

With the completion of the wellness integration and video, wellteq has commenced marketing to its existing corporate clientele with both Australian multinationals and global Fortune 500 companies including but not limited to Bupa, Prudential, Telstra, Credit Suisse and SCOR to name a few.

Vlado Bosanac, Chief Executive Officer of MyFiziq, said:

“The video is a great tool to have when assisting new potential partners in understanding how we can enrich their data and workplace engagement. Our team worked closely with wellteq in developing this footage to make sure it was on point and explained the capabilities of the combined offering.”

Scott Montgomery, CEO of wellteq, said:

“Offering such an advanced, and comprehensive solution can sometimes come across as overly complex when it’s not. wellteq’s extensive capabilities fall into this category especially in emerging markets. This new video simply showcases the user experience and is helping people, partners and prospects to more simply understand the power of what we do inside two minutes. A powerful tool to help close our growing pipeline”

Being able to very accurately assess and monitor changes in body measurement with MyFiziq, then correlate this data with stress, sleep, activity and environmental data from wellteq enables us to identify health, risk and performance causal factors. This is the only capability of its kind in the world creating a powerful USP for our customers.”

For more information please contact stacey@wellteq.co

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Happy International Women’s Day 2019

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If you follow us on Instagram (@wellteq) then you’ll know we’ve been particularly active today!

Shining the spotlight on the women behind the scenes


In celebration of International Women’s Day we’ve focussed the spotlight on some of the incredible international females behind wellteq! We can’t thank these brilliant minds enough for their input to our journey of success. We want to encourage you to check out the posts on each one of these superstars who offer a truly inspiring insight into the world of wellbeing.

Diversity + inclusion = more success

Did you know that a company that is diverse can generate up to 35% more revenue? And let’s not forget the effect a mixed workforce has on workplace culture! That’s why we believe that diversity can very much contribute to workplace wellness and is essential to the future success of a business.

But it doesn’t stop there. To be truly successful it’s important to ensure you have a workplace culture of inclusion, which is much harder to crack. All employees need to feel they’ve been treated fairly and respectfully, have equal access to opportunities and resources that are relevant to them, and can contribute fully to the organisation’s success.


Think about this…

A local government wants to run an initiative to get everyone mobile, no matter what they’re income status, while still being environmentally responsible. So the government ministers decide to give every citizen a free push bike. Sounds like a great initiative and like everyone has been treated equally, right? But what about those who have physical disabilities and can’t ride a bike? What about those who don’t know how to ride a bike? Will free lessons be part of the deal so they can maximise the use of the free bike? This is the difference between equality and inclusion and beautifully illustrates why HR professionals need to consider both when building a workplace culture.

In order from top right

Our female superstars in more detail

Amelia Thornycroft – Co-Founder and Director of Operations of i-Screen, wellteq’s preferred pathology partner

Mylea Charvat, PhD. – CEO of Savonix, wellteq’s newest partner in cognitive performance testing

Dr Angela Montgomery – Psychologist, Angela developed the content for Mind-Your-Step and Mind-Your-Stress mental health programs

Dr Katherine Iscoe – Body confidence expert who regularly co-hosts webinars with us on a variety of mental wellbeing topics

Dr Sandy Chong – Global Ambassador and VP or Strategy for UNAA, Sandy supported WellteQ to become an official member partner of United Nations

Jennifer Pitts, PhD – Founder of Institute for Positive Organizational Health and acclaimed professor, Jennifer advises us on our programs

Dr. Joti Samra, R. Psych. – Founder & Principal Psychologist at MyWorkplaceHealth, advising wellteq and co-hosting webinars and vlogs

Dr Mariyam Shakeela – Ex-Chairperson WHO, minister and global advocate for multiple organisations and universities, wellteq board member

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Lockton Adds wellteq to Available Client Services

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Lockton and wellteq have inked an agreement that enables the broker to offer holistic benefits and a wellness solution to their clients. Lockton, a global professional services firm with 7,000 associates who advise clients on protecting their people, property and reputations, now includes wellteq’s market-leading corporate wellness solution amongst it’s suite of products and services that it offers to their clients.

Reseller Partnership Dramatically Increases Distribution

Lockton is a privately owned tier 2 insurance brokerage firm with a client retention rate of 96%. With 14 direct offices and a further 9 partner offices across APAC, Lockton is well placed to provide an extended range of solutions in the brokerage industry projected to be worth $54.8 billion by 2021.

Scott Montgomery, CEO of wellteq, said:

“wellteq are thrilled to be included amongst a prestigious list of healthtech peers and best-in-class wellbeing solution providers. To be working so closely with an insurance broker leader such as Lockton provides a great opportunity for us and we’re looking forward to working closely with the talented Lockton team.”


Who Are Lockton?

More than 7,000 professionals at Lockton provide 50,000 clients around the world with risk management, insurance, employee benefits consulting, and retirement services that improve their businesses. From its founding in 1966 in Kansas City, Missouri, Lockton has attracted entrepreneurial professionals who have driven its growth to become the largest privately held, independent insurance broker in the world and 9th largest overall. For seven consecutive years, Business Insurance magazine has recognized Lockton as a “Best Place to Work in Insurance.”

For more information please contact stacey@wellteq.co

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What’s Your Hard Return On Employee Wellness?

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The importance of ROI reporting on your corporate wellness program

In recent years, corporate wellness programs have moved on from being a “good to have” employee benefit to an actual strategic investment that can positively impact bottom line. Corporate wellness companies such as WellteQ strive to address core business goals while improving employee heath, well-being, and performance.

But are these types of programs effective? HR managers need to consider what type of wellness program is worth their time and is best suited to the needs of their organization. There are a few main points that HR managers need to consider when deciding whether a wellness plan is worth carrying through:

  1. What key objectives are you trying to achieve with a corporate wellness program? Reduction in healthcare costs and sick days?
  2. Will your program generate soft returns are such as increasing employee morale and reduction in turnover rates?

Reducing healthcare costs and unplanned absenteeism

Since the early 2000s, studies have repeatedly proven that employee wellness programs directly impact company profits by reducing healthcare costs and lost work days. In 2001 MD Anderson Cancer Center’s introduced their employee wellness that included a well-being department staffed by a doctor and a manager. The astonishing results included a lost work days decline of 80% and modified-duty days by 64%. Cost savings, calculated by multiplying the reduction in lost work days by average pay rates, totaled $1.5 million; workers’ compensation insurance premiums declined by 50%.

World leading consumer goods company Johnson & estimates their wellness programs have cumulatively saved the company $250 million on health care costs over the past decade; from 2002 to 2008, the return was $2.71 for every dollar spent.

The many soft returns of a well executed corporate wellness program have also been well documented over the years. Vicki Banks, Biltmore’s director of benefits and compensation, “Employees who participate in our wellness programs do not leave.” Nelnet, an education finance firm, also report that outgoing employees in exit interviews consistently state the wellness program of the company is what they will miss the most.

HR Managers’ biggest challenge

WellteQ consistently speaks to HR leaders about what their  biggest challenge is when preparing to launch a wellness program  for their company and the one common problem emerges constantly – Convincing  management of the hard returns that comes with the program. Soft returns of effective workplace wellness programs such as higher employee motivation and positivity are a given, but the hard returns such as health care costs savings and productivity increases can be harder to measure. The good news is that it can and is already being done.

What are the metrics you should be reporting?

  1. DIRECT COSTS – The total price of running your corporate wellness initiative
  2. INDIRECT COSTS – Any non-financial contributions enabling delivery of the wellness initiative – ie lost work hours due to employees attending a wellness seminar
  3. LOST DAYS DUE TO INJURY/ILLNESS – The number of work days lost due to an employee injury or illness
  4. MEDICAL COSTS – Any medical costs arising from treatment or assessment of injury or illness
  5. ENGAGEMENT & COMPLETION RATES – Total number of employees who start, consistently participate and complete any wellness initiative

There are many other metrics that you can measure but the above are the most essential ones that should be part of any wellness ROI Report.

wellteq has published a great report named “Calculating Real ROI On Corporate Wellness”. In the report you will find more detailed information about the following:

  • The importance of calculating ROI on your corporate wellness program
  • Easy to follow simple ROI calculation method
  • Making a solid business case to your leadership justifying the need for corporate wellness
  • The Absenteeism crisis in Australia, UK and USA
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How To Be Ok With Making Mistakes At Work

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How to be ok with making mistakes at work

Email blunders are fairly common in the workplace. To make matters worse, there’s no way to recover an email once it’s been sent! However, here are some tips that you can follow to hopefully turn your mistake from an embarrassing memory to a light-hearted anecdote.

What’s your blunder?

  1. Autocorrect

Unless your autocorrect was heinously unfortunate, most of the time slip-ups like these are common and easy to make, and even easier to forgive. In fact, the recipient of your email has probably done something similar at some point in their career. To rectify the situation, send a calm, polite follow-up email explaining that you were in a hurry and made a mistake.

  1. Misspelling a name

If you’ve misspelt a name, the sooner you catch the mistake, the better. Make sure your apology is clear in your subsequent email, bear in mind you need to communicate that your blunder was not meant to be rude or disrespectful.

  1. Hitting “reply all”

The mistake of hitting “reply all” is a fairly common one, and the best way to avoid a potentially sticky situation would be to send a second, light-hearted email to explain your gaffe. However, be sure to avoid sending multiple follow-up emails to avoid the email thread devolving into an office-wide conversation.

  1. Sending an unkind message to its recipient

This is perhaps that most difficult kind of email blunder to fix, but setting out to resolve it is always better than leaving it to fester. Seek out the individual in question and have a private, face-to-face conversation with them. In this case, an apology over email would just come across as insincere. Talk to them calmly about what triggered your frustration, and of course, don’t do it again!

Most of the time, email blunders are nothing to sweat about – everybody makes them! It’s how you handle the aftermath that shows your co-workers the kind of person you are. Take responsibility for your actions and own up to; it’s the adult thing to do!

This article originally appeared on www.thedailyescape.com

https://thedailyescape.com/read/article/5-steps-to-financial-wellness

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