The Coronavirus Pandemic: How Wellness Programs Can Mitigate Its Effects
In late February, Tedros Adhanom, the director-general of the World Health Organization, made a statement saying that while COVID-19 had the potential of becoming a pandemic, it was not there yet.
Now, we are almost halfway into 2020, and the coronavirus outbreak has become a widespread pandemic causing many countries around the world to go into nationwide lockdowns.
As of now, COVID-19 has infected more than 3 million people, and the reported cases of death are more than 200,000 people. Yet, there is no evidence of this coronavirus pandemic slowing down any time soon.
While most countries have been affected by the coronavirus crisis, some have been struck especially hard such as the United States, Spain, and Italy. For instance, as of 27th April, the number of infected people in the USA is 987,916, which is almost one-third of the total cases of coronavirus infections in the world.
Even though the entire population of the world is at risk of COVID-19, two demographics are highly susceptible to the implications of the disease, i.e., older people and people with underlying health problems.
Older people are at a higher risk of death when infected as they have relatively weaker immune systems and may have underlying chronic health problems. Whereas people with underlying health problems like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes are at a higher risk of fatality as their existing conditions may be exacerbated due to the effects of COVID-19.
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To combat the impact of COVID-19 and prevent its further spread, many governments around the world have imposed nationwide lockdowns to facilitate social distancing among people. Institutions like the World Health Organization (WHO), the National Health Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have introduced safety guidelines to prevent the spread of the disease.
Following suit, many organizations throughout the world have implemented full-time work-from-home policies for their employees to ensure smooth and uninterrupted business operations. However, most organizations were not prepared for the sudden transition to a fully remote work environment.
Companies with disaster-preparedness plans are coping with the current circumstances more efficiently than ones without such policies.
Also, for companies that have corporate wellness programs implemented in place, dealing with COVID-19 is not as big a challenge as it is for companies who don’t have the same.
For instance, working from home has its pros and cons, but it may take its toll on employee health and wellbeing. In such a situation, corporate wellness programs can play a significant role. Employees of companies with wellness programs are much more aware of their health and maintain healthy lifestyles. Such employees are more likely to follow healthy habits even while working at home, maintaining good physical and mental health.
In times like these, the importance of investing in corporate wellness programs and a healthier workforce has become evident. Healthy employees are much better prepared to tackle a crisis like the one we are facing now. Moreover, unhealthy employees are more susceptible to fall victim to infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Here are some ways by which employee wellness programs help mitigate the effects of the coronavirus pandemic -
Employee wellness programs promote the awareness of good health and help employees stay healthy and fit.
Wellness programs encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles among employees. They promote the benefits of healthy habits like regular exercise and proper nutrition. They encourage employees to partake in physical activity to help them stay fit and healthy.
Employees in good health, both mentally and physically, have robust immune systems that help prevent illnesses and diseases. Healthy employees also maintain good hygiene and practice safe health practices that can further prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Wellness programs educate employees about the consequences of being unhealthy and helps them prevent chronic health problems.
One of the benefits of wellness programs is that they help prevent chronic health problems among employees by assisting them to adopt healthy habits. When employees adopt practices like exercising regularly and eating healthily, their likelihood of getting sick significantly decreases. Also, such habits allow employees to control existing health problems or mitigate their effects.
As mentioned above, people with health problems like heart disease and diabetes are more likely to suffer from the effects of COVID-19, more indirectly than directly. Wellness programs help prevent this by eliminating the possibility of chronic diseases in the first place.
Employee wellness programs that focus on mental health help employees combat stress and other concerns that may arise in times of a pandemic.
Mental health is a crucial part of overall wellbeing, and in times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the mental health of people is significantly affected. People become increasingly uncertain about their health, finance, and future, and this causes increased stress and anxiety.
Wellness programs that focus on improving mental health prepare employees to combat the effects of stress, helping them to overcome problems that they may face in times of crisis. Such employees will also be able to counsel their family members regarding uncertainty, financial issues, etc.
Employee Wellness programs provide the perfect platform for employers to update their employees regarding COVID-19 updates.
The primary goal of employee wellness programs is to promote and encourage employee health. As such, companies that implement wellness programs in their workplaces have a much healthier and engaged workforce than companies that don’t.
Wellness programs can act as the perfect platform for employers to educate their employees about COVID-19 safety and provide real-time updates, keeping them engaged during a time of disruption and uncertainty.
Tips for Employers to make use of their Wellness Programs amidst the Coronavirus Pandemic
Corporate wellness programs are fast becoming widely popular among employers around the world. They benefit organizations in many ways, such as improving employee health, increasing productivity, decreasing absenteeism, etc.
If you are an employer concerned about the safety and wellbeing of your employees, you must already have implemented wellness programs in your organization. But in harsh and difficult times like these, it is easy for employees to lose track of their goal of optimal health and wellbeing.
To help you leverage your wellness program amidst this coronavirus pandemic, here are some tips to keep your employees healthy and engaged -
Keep Employees updated
In a crisis like the one we are facing now, false rumors and news are aplenty in the media. Believing in false rumors can cause panic and anxiety among people. As such, you need to provide real news and updates to your employees on time.
Educate your employees on the safety guidelines and the latest news on COVID-19 through your employee wellness program. Doing so will ensure that they are updated with factual news and do not circulate false information.
Encourage healthy habits
Make use of your wellness program to continually encourage your employees to adopt healthy habits and to stay healthy. Encourage your employees to eat healthily while at home and do some exercise regularly. Also, promote proper hygiene among them to keep them safe from the disease.
Create a rewarding Wellness Challenge
Use your wellness program to create and implement wellness challenges among your employees to keep them healthy, fit, and engaged in the confinement of their homes. A fun and competitive wellness challenge will keep your employees engaged, motivated, and make them more robust while they work from home. Also, incentivize your wellness challenge to increase competition and create excitement among your employees.
Vantage Fit, our very own all-in-one corporate wellness app, enables employers to create fun and engaging wellness challenges for their employees to keep them healthy and fit. With features like a step counter, heart monitor, and more, it enables you to create fun activities and reward them for doing the same.
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Provide Health Tips and Advice
Use your employee wellness program to share health tips and advice to your employees in all areas of wellness, such as nutrition, exercise, mental health, and so on. Doing so will help them become more aware of their health, and also, they will learn how to cope with stress and other health problems.
Lastly, ensure to keep track of your employees’ health regularly. Instruct an HR executive to keep tabs on your employees’ mental and physical health. This way, you will be able to address any concerns that your employees might be having. Moreover, your employees will feel appreciated and valued, boosting their morale and increasing their loyalty to the company.
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