A study reported in the New York Times shows how our behavior is different when it comes to addressing a medical crisis and preventing another from happening:
Smokers are three times more likely to quit if they get a wake-up call in the form of a heart attack, stroke, lung disease or cancer diagnosis, a new study has found.
But obese and overweight people lose two to three pounds at most after being diagnosed with a serious illness like heart disease or diabetes, according to the same report. The study, which looked at weight loss only in people under age 75, was published on Monday in The Archives of Internal Medicine.
It’s not entirely clear why heart disease would motivate patients to quit smoking but not to slim down, but the author of the paper noted that many health plans don’t cover weight-loss programs (my emphasis), with the exception of bariatric surgery, while many businesses and local health departments offer free or low-cost smoking cessation programs.
“People really are open to changing their behaviors after a health event, and this could really be a window of opportunity,” said study author Patricia S. Keenan, assistant professor of health policy at Yale School of Medicine. “I’m not sure the health care system is capitalizing on it, in terms of giving people the support they need to make these changes as they go forward (my emphasis).”
Friends, we’ve got an opportunity here. In the course of our research we’ve identified companies that are offering extended well-care benefits, such as weight loss support, and are achieving positive results for the patients and lower health care claims– why are we all not jumping on this bandwagon?
Here’s a report about a group called Simply Well from Omaha, Nebraska that is doing outstanding work in helping employees take greater responsibility for their own health and, in doing so, enjoying the benefit of increased employee engagement. The article features a local company:
The case study featured was the Greater Omaha Packing Company, Inc. (GOP). GOP has annual sales of nearly $1 billion and is ranked 5th in beef processing nationally. Since implementing simplyWell in 2001, GOP has experienced significant improvement in employee engagement as well as measurable clinical improvement.
Founder and President of simplyWell, james T. canedy, MD, attributed the group’s success to giving employees the right information at the right time as it relates to their health.
“By engaging patients in their own health and providing them the appropriate tools, they can manage their health more effectively,” said Dr. canedy. “Our studies show that a higher engagement rate in one’s health drives a trend of decreasing risk and cost. That is what simplyWell focuses on”.
This results is very much in keeping with our studies of outstanding workplaces– a committment to employee well being is a significant driver of employee engagement.
- Are you actively working to improve your well-care efforts?
- What benefits could you experience with a greater emphasis on “health care”, instead of simply diagnosing and treating disease?
Proprietary research my partner Leigh Branham and I have conducted is clear—a commitment on the part of an employer to the health and well being of their employees is a significant driver of employee engagement. Don’t believe me? Listen to the observation of one such employee at a company that has shown outstanding employee engaement results in this area:
Our boss is very fair about vacation days, personal days and sick days. He gives us half day Fridays during the summer and closes the office for the entire week between Christmas and New Year’s. By giving us ample time off, it makes people want to be more productive at their job so when we’re here they’re really working hard. (my emphasis)
This may have not always been so valuable for employees, but with the emerging need for work-life balance, any employer who isn’t striving to achieve the connection so clearly explained by this employee is losing ground in the battle to maintain the hearts and minds of their workforce.