Your business can realize a significant return on investment by providing a workplace wellness program dedicated to establishing a lung-friendly workplace. In many cases, creating a healthy workplace is a multi-step process that involves numerous people throughout different sectors of your organization.
Establish a Leadership Team to Address Employee Health
Because of the scope of this type of project, it is important to put together a team that consists of individuals from several disciplines within your company and outside of your organization including: health insurance providers, human resources staff, worksite wellness providers, employees and a benefit broker. A benefit broker can be a valuable addition to your team as they can show you how to choose the best healthcare plan that targets the needs of your employees.
This team could be responsible for the creation of a health needs assessment, making the business case for your employee health initiative, and setting and tracking your employee health initiative's goals and outcomes. This team could also serve as the "go-to" entity as issues surface in the workplace regarding smoking cessation programs, indoor and outdoor air quality, and policies and practices.
Conduct a Needs Assessment
A health needs assessment, which is a process to help you identify the health risks and conditions of your employees, can help prioritize key elements of a Workplace Wellness Program. Using asthma as an example, a health assessment can identify how many employees have asthma (prevalence), how employees manage their asthma (asthma knowledge and self-management practices), and employees' perceptions of changes in the work environment that may help improve disease management or productivity. An employer health insurance provider and worksite wellness provider can help develop assessment questions, and address workplace challenges or barriers.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a Workplace Health Model with information on conducting a needs assessment.
- CDC's Total Worker Health™ initiative has a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health resource called Essential Elements of Effective Workplace Programs and Policies for Improving Worker Health and Wellbeing that provides guidance for employers to establish effective workplace programs that sustain and improve worker health.
- CDC's Environmental Assessment can help employers assess the physical features of the worksite, such as options for healthy eating, physical activity, smoking cessation and healthy indoor environments.
- Review the CDC's Worksite Health ScoreCard—a tool designed to help employers assess and improve health promotion in their worksites.
Make a Business Case for Your Health Initiative
Missed work days and lost worker productivity due to lung disease and tobacco use can be costly. Research shows that a focus on reducing smoking rates and helping employees manage their asthma can produce a significant return on your investment.
- Smoking-related illness in the U.S. costs more than $300 billion a year, including over $175 billion in direct medical care for adults and $156 billion in lost productivity.
- A randomized clinic trial of adults with asthma that received asthma education interventions in the clinic, by phone, or at home saved employers $36 in direct healthcare expenses and indirect costs for every dollar spent on the program.
Plan and Implement Your Initiative
To ensure success, create an implementation plan that includes your initiative's goals, the steps you will take and the individual responsible, and a timeline for their implementation.
Evaluate Your Health Initiative
Tracking your outcomes can aid in securing resources for expansion or continuation of an initiative from upper management and other stakeholders by highlighting positive health outcomes or money saved by the initiative. During the needs assessment process you can identify variables and their outcomes that you should track as you implement your initiative.
Apply to Receive Recognition
If you are a health plan, healthcare provider or community that has demonstrated leadership in managing environmental asthma triggers as part of your comprehensive workplace wellness program, apply to receive recognition for your important work Through the Environmental Protection Agency's National Environmental Leadership Award in Asthma Management.
Page last updated: March 22, 2022