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Workforce Wellness: Promoting Healthy & Balanced Work-Life Experience

July 9, 2015

We work in a demanding field. It’s easy for healthcare professionals to overlook their own health while tending to the well-being of others. AllLocations_800x350

By and large, medical practitioners receive high marks for well-being on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which compares the health of major occupational groups. Physicians enjoy the highest well-being of any occupation type, outscoring teachers, business owners and other professionals, while nurses rank sixth. When it comes to getting enough exercise and eating plenty of fruits and vegetables, doctors and nurses both make the top five.

Even if nearly 60 percent of physicians got plenty of exercise last week, however, the other 40 percent could still use more. Staying healthy can be a challenge, especially for those of us who do clinical and surgical work. That’s why, when considering where to work, healthcare professionals increasingly look for on-the-job wellness programs.

Benefits of a healthy workplace

Because healthcare workers spend so many waking hours on the job, the workplace plays a powerful role in supporting—or undermining—their health. By building opportunities to exercise into the workday, providing healthy options in vending machines and creating a culture around personal wellness goals, an employer can help its employees:

Manage stress. A healthy workplace improves your ability to handle the high stress levels reported by most healthcare employees.

Enjoy greater job satisfaction. Nearly half of all employees cite work/life experience as a key factor in their job satisfaction. The ability to pursue personal wellness goals plays a key role in achieving that balance.

Improve their health skills. Employer-provided wellness education tools help workers find new ways to meet their health goals.

These are just a few of the reasons workplace wellness initiatives have gained traction as an important job benefit for U.S. workers.

Shifting a culture

To engage healthcare workers in actively pursuing healthy lifestyles, Northwest Permanente offers an integrated wellness program that combines education and incentives with sponsored exercise opportunities.

Our online wellness platform provides physicians, clinicians and employees with tools for managing their health, including access to medical appointments, personalized health assessments, immunization history and identified preventative care gaps. Additionally, we provide a wellness resource portal loaded with educational tools, guides and videos. At work, we cultivate a culture of well-being through coordinated events, wellness incentive plans for employees and families, and by leveraging the medical expertise of our staff.

Two years after implementing our award-winning wellness program, the Portland Business Journal named Northwest Permanente the third-healthiest employer in Oregon. With a 95 percent participation rate, we’ve made the shift to a more active work culture—and our employees are reaping the benefits.

After all, as healthcare professionals, it’s up to us to set the example for our patients.

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