Pandemic highlights employee need for lifestyle assistance

28 February 2022 Kate Powell, Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions Senior Consultant
Kate Powell, Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions Senior Consultant

Kate Powell, Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions Senior Consultant

During the pandemic Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions has witnessed an increased need by corporates to ensure their employees have access to resources that support their wellbeing.

Two years after the start of the pandemic, it has become even more important for employers to play an even bigger role to ensure the health and wellbeing of their staff by using intensified interventions focused on employee wellness, and healthier lifestyles. It has been proven that a healthier workforce has positive multiplier effects through increased productivity.

Alexander Forbes Health Management Solutions assists corporates with health and productivity in the workplace. Since the start of the pandemic more corporates are looking for assistance for:

• vulnerable employees
• ergonomics and home workplace set-ups
• employee assistance programmes (EAP) for mental health, especially in smaller companies

An employer-sponsored EAP is a work-based intervention designed to identify and assist employees in resolving personal problems which could impair their performance at work. Examples are:

• marital, financial or emotional problems
• family issues
• substance or alcohol misuse

Healthcare providers are warning of a global rise in such lifestyle diseases as hypertension and diabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by 2030, chronic diseases related to lifestyles could become the cause of up to 70% of deaths, most of which will be in Africa and the Mediterranean.

According to the International Diabetes Federation, older people and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as diabetes, heart disease and asthma) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the COVID-19 virus.

This picture highlights the importance of why we should not forget about those predictable new year’s resolutions and find realistic and attainable ways to support a healthier lifestyle.

A healthy lifestyle is not as simple as eating healthily and exercising but incorporates our mental, social and spiritual wellbeing too. Many of us tend to focus our energy on making one aspect of our lives healthy. However, we then end up neglecting the rest of our lives, leading to an unbalanced and unhealthy life in general.

It is therefore about balance and, most importantly, working smart to make sustainable and fruitful changes in our lives.

One of the most important aspects to look at when making changes and adopting new behaviour is keeping things simple and realistic within your reality. Sometimes the smallest change in your day can make the biggest impact. In order to help start this process, ask yourself these questions to make a positive change in your day:

• Can I move more in my day today?
• Can I bring more colour into my diet today?
• Can I learn one thing today?
• Can I do one thing that I enjoy today?
• Can I talk to one person today?
• Can I do something today for another person?
• Can I stop and take note of one thing in my environment today?
• Can I identify one thing I am grateful for today?

The easy part is to say “yes” to these questions, the harder part is to “do”. Similar to how we have broken the areas into basic concepts, you can also take small actions from these decisions.

Smart tips to help you get these done include:

• Get help – you don’t have to do things alone. Delegate where possible.
• Use technology – use an app to set a reminder or to motivate you.
• Incorporate the change into an existing activity you have to do each day anyway – for example, walking up the escalator instead of standing on it.
• Acknowledge the changes – this will keep you motivated.
• Try not to do the same thing day in and day out – bring variety where you can.

The most important part of a journey to having a healthier lifestyle is to acknowledge that changes will not happen overnight, and some days will be better than others.

Leading a healthy lifestyle also plays a crucial part in helping a person perform at their best in the workplace.

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