Why is workplace wellness important?
As part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s plan to control costs, improve quality, and expand access to health care, the Chamber believes that wellness and chronic disease management programs in the workplace play a critical role in improving the nation's health and productivity. As the largest purchasers of health care, employers are in a unique position to help provide leadership in the workplace wellness and health promotion space.
Workplace wellness programs are a win-win for both employers and employees. Employees who participate in workplace wellness programs tend to be fitter, more productive and have better morale than employees who do not otherwise treat their chronic conditions. Employers who offer wellness initiatives have achieved excellent returns on their investment - programs that follow best practice guidelines return $2 to $3 for each dollar invested. These savings can be used to pay employees higher wages, invest in further adapting benefits to specific employee population needs, and create more jobs.
Where can I get more information about setting up a wellness program?
Learn more about wellness programs and how to set up a workplace wellness program for your business. The toolkit contains the brochure Workplace Wellness Programs: Promoting Better Health While Controlling Costs.
How has the Chamber highlighted the importance of workplace wellness?
In April, as part of National Workplace Wellness Week, the Chamber hosts an annual event emphasizing innovations in workplace and community wellness.
In April 2018, the Chamber hosted an event, Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: A Road Map to Program Success, where speakers discussed behavorial change, methods to address health disparities, and technological advances. At the Aligning Incentives for Better Health forum held in June, panelists highlighted the important role that businesses play as purchasers as well as social entrepreneurship.
In April 2017, the Chamber hosted an event, Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: A New Era, which highlighted trends in workplace and community wellness initiatives emphasizing strategies to influence behavior change; promoting mindfulness at work; and improving health through genetics.
An event summary accompanied with photos can be found here.
In April 2016, speakers at the forum, Innovations in Workplace and Community Wellness: Aligning Business Goals With a Healthy Workforce, stressed innovative workplace wellness programs; how implementation of the health care reform law is impacting public health and strategies to influence behavior change; technological advancements and generational perspectives on health.
What are some of the workplace wellness publications has the Chamber produced?
In April 2016, the Chamber released, Winning With Wellness.
This report discusses the characteristics of successful and effective workplace wellness programs, how workplace wellness can be a win-win for employers and employees, and the legal and regulatory parameters associated with these programs.
In January 2017, the Chamber released an executive summary of the publication. The executive summary is a one-stop resource outlining the 10 essential steps in designing a workplace wellness program, provides a chart that summarizes reports and case studies demonstrating employee satisfaction and social or financial ROI, and incorporates a series of tables that examine the legal and regulatory parameters associated with these programs.
How are social entrepreneurs engaging in the health and wellness space?
Darian Hall and Elisa Shankle
HealHaus is a holistic health and healing space in Brooklyn, New York, with a cafe and indoor/outdoor group programming areas where daily group yoga and meditation classes are offered. HealHaus also features a wellness bar and café that serves curated teas, smoothies, elixirs, and coffee alternatives.
In addition, the space includes two private practitioner rooms, where specialists provide alternative forms of medicine such as acupuncture, psychotherapy, and healing modalities. HealHaus also offers workshops and discussions that address lifestyle habits.
The company is designed as a safe space where healing is accessible, inclusive, and community oriented. Founders Darian Hall and Elisa Shankle strongly believe that wellness knows no bounds—you can be a multifaceted person and still be committed to your personal evolution.
Both founders considered the importance of location as HealHaus is in an area of Brooklyn with a need for jobs. HealHaus is in a four-block radius where there are vacant buildings and businesses that have gone under due to gentrification and increased rents. The owners wanted to lead the change by ushering in a new wave of businesses to the area. HealHaus employs 6 part-time baristas and 20+ professionals, including yoga teachers, meditators, doctors, psychotherapists, and massage therapists. The founders hope that their flagship location in Brooklyn will lead to additional businesses opening in the area.
With plans to open in other cities, HealHaus looks to become an example of how social entrepreneurship can affect change locally, as well as nationally and beyond. The company plans to create a corporate wellness program initiative where its practitioners can go off-site to bring the HealHaus experience to a wider audience.
Cordelia Cranshaw, MSW, LGSW
In 2014, Cordelia Cranshaw founded Acts of Random Kindness (ARK), a nonprofit organization that strives to involve the community in the life experiences of youth facing challenges.
ARK has two core programs—
- iCAN empowers and emboldens young males of color at risk in Washington, D.C., who are experiencing poverty, homelessness, and foster care. iCAN utilizes a workshop design coupled with mentorship for positive impact, and it exposes participants to career opportunities through internships and workshops.
- ARK’s co-parenting initiative offers a free and interactive eight-week course to low-income parents who do not reside in the same household so that they can learn about life skills and the importance of healthy child-rearing habits.
How ARK Connects to Job Creation
As a motivational speaker, Cranshaw shares her experiences as a foster child, discussing how she overcame obstacles to receive a master’s degree in social work and inspire others to give back.
She appears at numerous forums to educate others on how to obtain the knowledge to start nonprofits. Through ARK, Cranshaw provides both individuals and families with opportunities to learn life skills that can be directly applied to employment, business ownership, and ultimately financial stability.
Fitness is Fundamental is a community outreach and educational mission dedicated to reducing inactivity among adolescent girls and women. This education effort began after extensive research that revealed troubling trends of decreased physical activity, lack of basic fitness knowledge, low body image perceptions, and unhealthy nutrition practices among girls leading into young adulthood in the U.S.
Using my background in kinesiology, exercise science, and personal experiences as a lifelong athlete, I have developed workshops and programming aimed at empowering girls and women while building confidence through fitness, nutrition, and body image education.
Physical inactivity in America has become a major public health issue as it is a gateway to many chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease. The premise of Fitness is Fundamental is that learning and memory are strongest in our youth, and encouraging girls at early ages to embrace their bodies through the science of health and fitness is key to addressing overall well-being.
As a woman, more specifically a woman of color, my entrepreneurialism connects deeply with the enhancement of feminine culture and the betterment of social health norms. My objective is to spark social change that will develop an urgency to embrace more active lifestyle.
The goals of Fitness is Fundamental include the following:
- Building the confidence to pursue more active lifestyles through fitness education.
- Promoting positive body image perceptions.
- Providing nutritional recommendations for healthy eating regimens.
- Encouraging a socially supportive and safe environment for women and girls to discuss fitness and overall wellness and ask questions.
- Offering safe, fun, and realistic fitness demonstrations.
I consider it my responsibility to serve as a fitness leader, inspiring everyone I meet to live more active and healthier lifestyles. Healthier people tend to engage in more professional training opportunities, and contribute to the betterment of American economy.
Founder, Girls Health Ed
Girls Health Ed, founded by Sarah Hillware, is a nonprofit social enterprise that addresses the interconnected issues of public health and gender equality through health education programming. The organization caters to low-income girls and young women aged 8 to 17 through domestic and international partnerships with schools, community centers, and youth-serving organizations.
Girls Health Ed’s approach is innovative in a number of ways. The curriculum is rooted in scientific evidence demonstrating that when girls and young women are given accurate information about their health, they make better decisions, which translates into positive outcomes. The organization utilizes a holistic curriculum addressing five key modules: nutrition, physical fitness, body image, personal care/hygiene, and reproductive health and consent.
Teaching fellows, who receive one-on-one training, contribute to a safe space in which girls and young women empower themselves and others. This empowerment-based approach enables girls and young women to share the knowledge and skills gained from the workshop with their peers. The enhanced confidence, self-esteem, and mentorship from participating enables young women to recognize a wealth of opportunities.
In 2015, after completing her bachelor’s degree in finance and her master’s in business, Sinead Bovell left her job as a management consultant to pave her own path as an entrepreneur.
Recognizing the accelerating rate at which advanced technologies would soon outpace the workforce, and the lack of tools and information that millennials had to prepare for such a shift, Bovell made it her mission to bridge the gap between millennials and the digital future.
In 2017, she founded WAYE: Weekly Advice for the Young Entrepreneur, an organization dedicated to building a sustainable working future for the next generation through entrepreneurship. WAYE empowers young entrepreneurs with the tools and resources needed to thrive in the digital future through business articles, strategy consulting, and business master classes.
WAYE also conducts a monthly event series, WAYE Talks—where cool meets nerdy over tech that educates millennials on the intersection of business, technology, and the future.
Bovell is driven by her mission to build a progressive, informed, and thriving society, one in which technology is built “on the right side of history.” She speaks at a number of forums, including at the United Nations. WAYE plans to create jobs and serve as a fundamental driver of job creation through its work in helping startups get off the ground.
Sebastian Seiguer, J.D., M.B.A.
CEO and Co-Founder, emocha Mobile Health Inc.
In 1985, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop said, “Drugs don’t work in patients who don’t take them.” Koop elucidated the simple yet profound consequence of medication nonadherence. More than 30 years later, medication nonadherence is still a major health issue costing more than $300 billion annually.
The corporation emocha Mobile Health leverages a proven solution for adherence called Directly Observed Therapy (DOT)—the practice of watching patients take every dose of their medication—and makes it scalable using technology.
Patients use emocha’s mobile app to video record themselves taking their medication. Using a web portal, the patient’s care team or emocha adherence coaches review the video, confirm medication ingestion, and engage with the patient. The company’s video DOT platform can take place at times convenient for both patients and providers without costs associated with traveling or scheduling appointments.
The company is a social enterprise because it achieves two critical objectives: It provides true impact where it is severely needed while achieving financial sustainability. The phrase “social entrepreneurship” is often misused—organizations are sometimes labeled as “social enterprises” even if they only achieve one of those key measures.
Creating sustainable revenue based on an activity that directly benefits people in need is rare and difficult to achieve, and emocha helps customers fulfill their responsibility to secure medication adherence, which generates huge cost savings. A NIH-funded study found that emocha helped patients being treated for tuberculosis (TB) achieve an average of 94% medication adherence while saving public health departments approximately $1,400 per patient over six months.
Medication adherence affects the entire health care industry and is a vast unmet social need. By providing a product that empowers patients to take every dose of their medication, emocha helps patients and the health system avoid the costs of nonadherence.
Why are vaccinations important?
The average life span has increased, primarily owing to vaccines that have reduced the burden of infectious diseases. Safety concerns have led to a decline in vaccinations, causing the reemergence of infectious diseases like measles.
Children younger than 2 are among those at risk for vacine-preventable diseases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC recommended-immunization schedule helps protect children against 14 diseases by the age of 2. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that most childhood vaccines produce immunity 90%-100% of the time.
In a population-based study of vaccination and disease rates between 1995 and 2001, when the routine immunization schedule is followed, 33,000 lives are saved and 14 million cases of disease are prevented.
Adults should also receive booster shots based on CDC's recommended guidelines. Those who do not receive them are at risk of getting and spreading disease.
What is the impact of biosimilars on the health care system?
For information on biosimilars, read Embracing Competition to Empower Biosimilars, by Wayne Winegarden, senior fellow in business and economics at the Pacific Research Institute.