Make the most of workplace health assessments

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Health assessment programs are one of the more recent additions to HR’s wellness toolbox, but many organizations are overlooking the most effective ways to use program data.
“Many companies are doing it because it ticks a box, but they don’t really understand the info or the power of the info for the organization and the individual,” Medisys founder Dr Sheldon Elman told HRM.
Due to a shortage of family physicians in Canada, many workers are not getting the preventative care they need, instead relying on drop-in appointments to address problems as they arise. By helping employees identify the risks in their lives, and potentially address health issues sooner, employers can reduce future absenteeism.

“For a lot of Canadians considering our annual checkups last five to seven minutes there’s not a lot of time for discussion of preventative steps,” added Randy McCaig, Medisys director of strategy and business development.
Health assessments generally include a questionnaire about lifestyle and behaviour risks, and a nurse visit with biometric screening to measure things like weight, blood pressure, and cholesterol. The nurse returns after about two weeks to discuss the results confidentially with each employee. Employers receive data results that provide an overview of their staff’s health.
Nurses provide works with details of their personal risks, and what steps they can take to reduce the risk and improve their own health. Out of more than 1000 people who participated Medisys nurses identified at least one cardio-vascular risk in 40% of employees. Many do not know they are at risk before the assessment.
An emphasis on preventative steps and detailed explanations gives employees the tools to improve their own health, but the collected data can help employers guide health and wellness programs.
“If companies are implementing wellness solutions without doing their benchmarking they won’t know where to spend their dollars,” McCaig said. “If the aggregate data shows 47% of employees have high cholesterol the wellness programs that are launched can have an ROI and can target problem areas.”
Participation rates also increase because employees understand how taking part reduces their personal health risks.
“We give them tangible things they can do to slowly have an impact over the long term,” Elman said. “Sometimes small initiatives make the biggest difference.”
 In addition, well-managed health assessment programs have been shown to going to increase employee engagement, productivity and job satisfaction.
“Good health makes good business sense for everyone concerned,” Elman told HRM.

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