We’re reminded every February (also known as heart health month) how important a productive, happy, and healthy employee is. But this year, we’re faced with even more cause for concern. Research suggests that pandemic burnout is on the rise, influenced heavily by the COVID-19 pandemic. And according to a study by the CDC, you are 6 times more likely to be hospitalized for COVID-19 if you have heart disease. A double whammy.
So, what are some ways you can help encourage your employees to battle burnout? And how can you encourage employees to better understand their risk factors and get more insights into their heart health?
Work-life balance is key. Whether you’re working remotely or an essential worker under increased pressure and anxiety, it’s essential to “power down” regularly. Ensuring employees are taking time away from screens and work are some top suggestions. Even if there are travel restrictions in place, people can still find creative and safe ways to spend time alone, or with family and friends to relax, rest, and protect their well-being.
Burnout takes a toll on our health in many ways, but the connection to cardiovascular health is worrisome. Researchers have found an upward trend in stress-related heart issues due to COVID-19. According to the report in the Journal of American Medical Association, the increased rate of heart problems is due to economic, physical and social stressors. Professionals recommend meditation, connecting with others, proper nutrition and exercise to help reduce the risk of stress-related cardiovascular issues. For employers and benefits advisors, this is a perfect opportunity to introduce virtual guided meditation sessions as part of a wellbeing program!
“The COVID-19 pandemic quickly and drastically increased the prevalence and acuity of toxic stress and mental health conditions globally. Now more than ever leaders need to prioritize protecting and sustaining the emotional health of their workforce,” says Jennifer Hunter, CEO& Founder at Emvitals Inc. Emvitals recently published 4 Essential Strategies for 2021, an employer guide to a data-driven approach to employee emotional health.
How much exercise is helpful to maintaining good mental and cardiovascular health? A recent study reported in the New York Times may have the key. Researchers in the UK found that in a participant group of 90,000, being active was “protective” against heart disease. Moderate exercise reduces the risk of heart disease by almost 30% compared to the least active group in the study. What creative ways can you incent employees to be more active during COVID when typical team-building events and going to a gym can be risky? How about virtual daily steps challenges with Fit Bits for prizes?
Functional medicine practitioner Dr. Mark Hyman has another suggestion to keeping the body healthy to support cardiovascular and mental health during COVID-19- pay attention to nutrition. He points to maintaining good metabolic health to keep inflammation at bay and reduce immune system suppression, which can theoretically help fight off sickness and keep from transmitting it to others.
To help keep your mind on the heart, check out this heart month toolkit from the CDC. It contains online resources to help you implement and support programs that promote your employees’ well-being. Wellbeing programs are more important now than ever for lowering healthcare costs while improving employees’ lives in this ongoing pandemic.
If you have questions about implementing a new wellbeing program as a cost containment strategy, get in touch with Roundstone’s CSI Team for a consult. We’re standing by with ideas to help!