Employers need to remove mental illness stigma from the workplace - EBN

September 14, 2016

Mental illness can become evident in many different ways. Some conditions affect a person’s thinking, feeling or mood and vary from mild to severe. Mental health problems can also affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Every person will have different experiences, even those with the same diagnosis.

When looking specifically at workplace productivity, depression, anxiety and substance use cast a heavy burden on an employee. These behavioral health conditions exact an enormous personal and social cost, affecting not only a person’s health but also his or her ability to work.

Report: Targeted obesity plans can drive workplace change - HR Dive

September 8, 2016

For the most part, reducing workplace weight gain and obesity has been a losing battle, but a new report advises employers that there may be a way to help employees improve their weight loss. The secret to success? Targeted, personalized programs for employee subgroups, combined with nutrition and fitness activities that apply to broad employee populations.

The Northeast Business Group on Health (NEBGH) report, “Tipping the Scales on Weight Control: New Strategies for Employers,” says the first step is to differentiate employees by body mass index (BMI), a key weight metric, and focus programs and benefits most appropriate for each segment as a way to help increase the effectiveness in reversing the obesity epidemic.


A personalized approach aids employee weight loss, says new report - Crain's Health Pulse

September 8, 2016

From serving healthier cafeteria fare to building up an arsenal of digital tools, hospitals and other large employers are trying a wide range of approaches to get employees to lose weight.

Now, a new report from the Northeast Business Group on Health, an employer-led coalition that examines health costs and delivery, concludes that employers are most successful in addressing employee weight issues with a customized approach that takes body mass index and personal needs into account.

Obesity costs U.S. employers about $73 billion per year, according to a widely cited Duke University study, and health care is among the industries where it is most prevalent, according to a separate study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

As benefits managers shop for solutions to help their employees, they should look at programs that offer personalization, whether it’s provided onsite, near-site or online, said Dr. Jeremy Nobel, medical director at the business group and a co-author of the report released Wednesday.
“Personalization is fundamental but it can be delivered in lots of ways,” Nobel said. “It means really understanding the challenges in weight management a person has.”

Personalization starts with segmenting employees into groups by body mass index, including those under 30 BMI, and reaching out to them with the appropriate behavioral or medical resources, the report says. Once a person reaches a certain BMI, it’s harder to lose weight and easier to gain, Dr. Louis Aronne, director of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Comprehensive Weight Control Program, notes in the report.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considers someone with a BMI of 25 to 30 to be overweight and someone whose BMI exceeds 30 to be obese.

But offering custom interventions may be easier said than done. At Montefiore Health System, it’s difficult to truly personalize employee weight loss plans by pairing workers with individual health coaches, said Nicole Hollingsworth, assistant vice president of community and population health at Montefiore. A case study on Montefiore in the report adds, “With more than 28,000 employees, multiple locations and communication guidelines that limit outreach and promotion, continual awareness and high-touch engagement are challenges.”

In order to accommodate employees’ diverse needs, Montefiore aims to offer a wide range of options for weight loss and incorporate those approaches into a broader wellness program, said Hollingsworth.

More than 800 employees have seen a registered dietitian since the launch of the health system’s Associate Wellness program in 2012, according to the report, and participants in a recent six-week weight-loss program at the health system lost an average of 2.6 pounds. These targeted weight-loss initiatives complement public health approaches, such as keeping sugary drinks out of the cafeteria and adding new onsite exercise facilities, said Hollingsworth.

In addition, Montefiore offers employees access to digital nutrition and wellness tools provided through the Cerner Corporation.

“What’s emerging from our findings is that the convergence of all these things might lead to higher effectiveness and more sustained benefits,” said Nobel. —C.L.

Tipping the Scales on Weight Control: New Strategies for Employers - BenefitsLink.com

September 7, 2016

“Critical considerations for increasing engagement include greater personalization to capture and respond to individualized clinical factors such as BMI and blood sugar, attention to behavioral factors like attitudes and beliefs, and establishing relationships that could serve as in-person or digital support networks. Using behavioral economics lessons to understand the roles that intellect and emotion play in behavior change is similarly important in designing rewards and incentives.”