A critical analysis of health and wellness issues in our workplace in the context of Mauritius
The workplace is a solid contributor to mental welfare, giving people the opportunity to feel dynamic and attain their potential. In spite of that it can also be a tense environment that contributes to the increase of mental health problems and illnesses such as depression and anxiety. With most adults spending more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else—and with many youth holding at least part-time jobs— tackling issues of mental health at work is extremely vital for Mauritians.
How workplace affects health?
Increasingly, it is well-known that the place of work itself has a prevailing influence on people’s health. When people are pleased with their job, they are more prolific and tend to be healthier. When employees sense that the atmosphere at work is negative, they feel tense. Stress has a huge influence on employee mental and physical wellbeing, and in turn, on efficiency.
Consultant Graham Lowe has identified five components of workplace culture that directly influence employees’ health and the wellbeing of the corporation overall—credibility, respect, fairness, pride, and camaraderie. The principal idea is that companies must truly care about the health of their employees.
Companies nowadays who aim to attract and retain good workers have leaders who believe in the relationship between employee satisfaction and employee health and consider that place of work wellness is a business policy. Their management practices consist of making equitable demands on time and energy, involving employees in decision making, rewarding work well done, honest communication, and offering assistance to balance work and home life.
Employers understand that workers are searching for jobs that remunerate well, have excellent benefits and include brilliant health and safety plans. In today’s competitive employment market, it is becoming more important than ever for companies to improve job satisfaction and make sure that workers like being on the job. Workplace wellness benefits both employers and employees.
Strengths and Weaknesses of Health and Wellness programs.
In Mauritius, most Employers’ wellness programs imply just include a gym in the office or posters on the wall that encourage people to be fit. But more companies are using real money, and occasionally penalties, as encouragement for workers to get in shape nowadays.
Nearly 60% of employers propose wellness incentives, or financial rewards to employees who succeed in getting healthier.
Employers in Mauritius are still studying different models to improve employees’ health, reducing claims costs and receiving improved returns on their wellness finances.
We shall have a look at the pros and cons of popular kinds of corporate wellness incentive programs being used today.
Companies propose rewards for effecting activities that consist of an assessment of their personal health and risk factors. These can vary from answering a survey about family medical record, diet and fitness routine, to taking a biometric test for cholesterol, blood pressure and other factors. Worthy Incentives can get about 65% – 100% of employees to participate. Smaller rewards than that tend to motivate in the range of only 30% to 50%, experts say.
PROS:Experts state that straightforward activities are an excellent way to initiate employees to healthy behavior and their own risk factors. Companies can also use the data know what their workers’ health requirements are.
CONS: Informing people about their risks and providing them advice won’t automatically encourage them to respond positively.
EXAMPLE:Orange Business Services in Mauritius twice a year offers free Eye, Ear and Bone consultation, where experts are hired and consult at Orange Business Services’ office in Ebene.
To win rewards, and occasionally avoid penalties, employees are required to undertake activities to ameliorate their health after going through a health assessment, for example joining a weight-management program or follow ting a preventive screening.
PROS:The model encourages employees to change their unhealthy habits.
CONS:The incentives don’t promote healthy habit beyond the completion of the required programs.
EXAMPLE: Not yet implemented in Mauritius, but abroadHouston city employees must finish three tasks to hinder a $25 monthly payroll extra: complete a health-risk assessment, take a biometric screening and either speak to a health instructor, enroll for a program like Weight Watchers or have a screening. As a result, 90% of employees have completed three of the tasks or more.
Companies propose motivation for a range of tasks; the more complicated and valuable the task, the larger the prize.
PROS:Employees enjoy the liberty to opt for their health activities, from trail running to martial arts lessons, rather than having to have a conversation with a doctor or join an official program to get the reward. A wellness program that sets out an exciting trail to pursue will get more people involved.
CONS:Too many choices can confuse employees, and companies can misuse money on programs that will not efficiently tackle workers’ biggest health issues.
EXAMPLE:Apex Fund Services offers as much as Rs2500 for a range of activities from teeth cleaning to completing the “Dodo trail Mauritius”.
Employers offer rewards for taking steps to hit optimal benchmarks for cholesterol, blood pressure and weight. Steps can consist of enrolling in a weight-management program and reaching optimal body mass.
PROS:Employees are financially motivated to improve their health, instead of getting reprimanded for not being perfect, says Paul Terry, CEO of StayWell Health Management, which organizes company wellness programs.
CONS:Gratifying employees for just completing a wellness program doesn’t imply that they will really get healthier, and there’s a lengthy path to reduce a ‘morbidly obese’ body mass index of 40 to a healthy under-25.
Companies attach incentives and penalties to health metrics, with workers paying more until they hit standard cholesterol, blood pressure and body mass index levels.
PROS:Experts state this model is successful in making people independently improve their health.
CONS:Critics consider that this model could be inequitable and reduce access to health care. Legally, employers must provide workers who don’t achieve objectives an additional way to receive the incentive, for example a doctor’s letter or program participation, so experts say employees might never reach the goal.
Companies analyze employees’ health-risk, claims and additional information —or have the insurer or an expert company in data analysis, do it—to propose tailored wellness programs and incentives.
PROS:Experts say that tailoring wellness programs according to each employee enhances participation among those who will gain the most.
CONS:Some employees consider personalized interventions are invasive and compromise privacy.
Identifying possible challenges to implement Health & Wellness programs in Mauritius.
Each workplace has its particular array of challenges and possible barriers that can hinder the creation of a workplace wellness initiative. These challenges could appear from all levels of the organization, from employees to superior management.
Examples of organizational challenges:
1.) Employee customs
2.) Relationship between management and employees
3.) Company culture
4.) Worker buy-in
5.) Resources requirements of program
6.) Employee job agenda
7.) Flexibility of working days
8.) Management communication
9.) Staff participation in decision making
Healthcare costs have been steadily rising for the past four decades and present a major challenge in benefits administration. As a result, executing strategies to contain escalating healthcare costs has become a business imperative for today’s companies. Employers in Mauritius have always until now taken a number of steps — downsizing, moving to less expensive plan options, and shifting costs to employees — in an attempt to contain rising healthcare costs. But according to HR/benefits decision makers, these strategies can have a negative impact on employee morale and job satisfaction.
More employers appear to be adopting employee health and wellness programs as a way to promote employee health and rein in healthcare costs.