Forbes | Lifestyle Medicine: An Approach For Supporting Employee Well-Being

By Julian Flannery | August 4, 2022

Over the last two years, new places and patterns of work have allowed some to explore healthier living, but many employees are still struggling. (Read more)

As a nation, the 2020s have seen us grow weary and burned-out—more fatigued and more anxious than ever. In response, employers and HR leaders should consider shifting employee benefits and support strategies.

Employees Are Still Struggling

Many Americans have postponed checkups and routine healthcare due to the pandemic, while others have lived with emerging illnesses that are not yet “bad enough” to require an office visit. Still more of us have experienced subtler changes in health, an accumulation of health factors and feelings, that could impact our performance at work. This overall threat to employee well-being degrades workplace culture, stalls productivity and hinders performance, creating a cycle of burnout that can leave organizations struggling.

As employers seek to support employee well-being and respond to the novel challenges of hybrid and remote workforces, they should consider new approaches. One approach called “lifestyle medicine” offers holistic support to employees and complements—particularly in a virtual form—other elements of employer-provided healthcare.

Lifestyle medicine is an expert-driven method for the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases. Unlike “self-care,” lifestyle medicine leverages clinical expertise to understand the underlying causes of illness, provide intention around everyday choices that can improve health and support employees with ongoing feedback and coaching. It falls to employers to support employees to regain well-being, restoring the energetic core of your business.

Shifting Strategy

Every enterprise seeks greater productivity, and with the recent blurring of work-life boundaries due to the pandemic, employers may need to be more deeply invested in employees’ well-being. By finding new ways to support and care for employees, employers reap the benefit of a healthier workforce—including reduced absenteeism and increased retention.

Help bring together holistic support strategies for employees. Restore the human connection in healthcare by putting a relationship between employees and doctors at the center, using technology to reduce friction, increase convenience and improve access to the best available expertise. Expanding virtual specialty care can provide a valuable complement to other employer-provided health benefits, broadening the base of employee support.

HR leaders can go further to support employees by offering fast and convenient connections to care that go beyond simple telehealth. When considering virtual care platforms, look for ones that allow employees and their family members to connect with specialists who can get to know them better, follow up and provide coaching. These relationships can help employees achieve real progress toward well-being.

The Bottom Line

Employers can aim to prioritize more holistic, more employee-centric healthcare options like lifestyle medicine and specialty care. HR leaders should look for ways to support employees while combating fatigue and burnout. Using this approach to support employees builds a workplace culture that attracts the best talent, produces quality and possesses the energy to innovate.

Imagine a workforce that’s more energetic and better supported. Employers should prioritize digital health approaches and tools as they review their benefits plans and consider expanding virtual specialty care and lifestyle medicine options. Imagine the cultural and competitive advantages of your organization. Imagine the positive impact on the bottom line and imagine how good it would feel.

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