Right now, many people are reflecting on the year behind us and forming new goals and resolutions for 2021. After a long year of dramatic changes to the way we work, spend time with friends and family, and go about our daily lives, these resolutions may look different from past years. Let’s look at popular new year’s resolutions for 2021, and how employers can help their employees meet those goals.
In past years, many people planned to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose weight in the new year. This year, these physical health resolutions are also joined by goals that focus on the mental and behavioral side of health, like spending more time with family and friends (safely of course!), spending less time on social media, and reducing stress from work. Given the stresses brought on by the pandemic, it’s no surprise that many people are more conscious of and focused on their mental health than before.
Here are a few ways you can support your employees’ resolutions, with some help from your health plan.
Make employees aware of their relevant health plan benefits
Your health plan likely offers many resources to help members improve their overall health and wellbeing. Here are a few examples you may want to highlight during this time of year if your health insurer offers them:
Health coaches. Having a health goal to work toward can provide a much-needed distraction from sources of stress. But, a resolution that’s too unrealistic, difficult, or overwhelming may have the opposite effect. This is where health coaching comes in. If the health plan you’re offering includes the services of a health coach, now is a great time to encourage your employees to take advantage of this valuable benefit.
Often, resolutions fall apart without a solid plan to go with them. A health coach can help employees develop a personalized wellness plan for exercising more or eating better, so they’ll be better equipped to stay on track even after January ends.
Online wellness platforms. Insurers often have robust online wellness platforms that provide opportunities to improve health and wellness online. For example, AllWays Health Partners offers the CaféWell platform through WellTok, which provides a myriad of programming, including webinars like “How to set up your own home gym” and “The health benefits of gardening.” These can be a great tool to help employees stick with their goals and learn about other healthy living topics.
Behavioral health resources. Many health plans offer online resources where employees can find information and help for their behavioral health concerns. These digital libraries, like this website by our behavioral health partner Optum, often feature free podcasts, PDFs, and more designed to address issues around health and wellbeing, relationships, work, and financial concerns.
Tobacco cessation and other care management programs. Quitting smoking is a challenging but admirable goal. To help your employees quit, make sure they are aware of any tobacco cessation programs available from their health plan. These typically include counseling with a tobacco treatment specialist who will help create a personalized quit plan and provide ongoing support.
Your health plan may also offer other care management programs for people with chronic conditions like asthma, diabetes, substance use disorder, and more. Like tobacco cessation programs, these offerings are designed to improve quality of life for people living with ongoing health concerns, and can be a helpful resource to start the year off with.
Emphasize communication and understanding
With behavioral health now the latest workplace wellness worry, employers are in a good position to help their teams live up to their stress-related goals. By focusing on a few helpful management strategies along with the above programs, you’ll make it that much easier for employees to prioritize their mental health and improve performance this year.
Promote work-life balance. Establishing clear expectations around working hours and encouraging employees to use their vacation time can help them create healthy boundaries between work and their personal life. This can help reduce stress and promote time with family or friends, and is especially important for remote employees.
Support mental health. Communication and understanding are the keys to supporting your employees’ mental health. By working together to make sure workloads are manageable and being understanding of stressful circumstances outside work, you can foster a more supportive work culture and reduce feelings of anxiety and stress.
Offer an Employee Assistance Program (EAP). An EAP can help employees manage their financial and health concerns when these problems become difficult to handle on their own. By offering an EAP, you can relieve some of your employees’ burdens and reduce the chances of burnout.