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Gather employee success stories to stave off cuts
Real-life examples are a 'great inspiration'
When a UPS manager had an onsite blood pressure screening, his blood pressure was so high that an occupational health nurse took him to the hospital immediately. He was diagnosed with a heart attack, and he survived with minimal damage because he was treated so quickly.
This is a "success story" that Mary Breen, RN, MJ, COHN-S, CCM, occupational health manager at UPS Corporate Health & Safety, is able to share with her colleagues.
Occupational health and wellness programs are in danger of being cut if they don't demonstrate a clear return on investment. To make work even more difficult, money and resources are in short supply for marketing these programs, which could markedly decrease participation. However, some occupational health professionals point to a solution that is absolutely free: having executives and employees share their own compelling wellness stories.
"Anecdotal success stories alone will not provide a foundation for a sustainable program, but these are a great augmentation to performance summaries, which illustrate progress on the overall plan and achievement metrics," says Cathy Baase, MD, global director of health services at The Dow Chemical Co. in Midland, MI. Consider these items when sharing employee success stories:
• Obtain approval from the employee.
"Always make sure that the individual has approved the communication of their personal story," says Baase. "We have people give us written permission to use their story for broader distribution."
This approval might be an e-mail or other document that states that the employees give permission to share their story, says Baase. Dow's employees specifically are asked whether it's OK to use their name.
Use employees who have returned to work successfully after being injured as a way to highlight good disability management, suggests Robert R. Orford, MD, CM, MS, MPH, president of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and a consultant with the Division of Preventive Occupational Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ. "We have a panel of physicians review such cases and recommend appropriate placement decisions," says Orford. "Doing this is both a benefit to the employee, who continues to be employed in most cases, and to the employer by avoiding the costs that would otherwise be associated with long term disability."
For the biggest impact, invite injured employees to tell their story in their own words to senior executives. For example, you might have arranged for an employee to be transferred from one area where they no longer have the physical abilities to do the essential functions of the job to another area where they have made a successful adjustment. "It is a great inspiration to have employees share their own stories in person," says Baase. "This can be done at staff meetings or even on video."
• Include senior leaders.
"In virtually every company, you can find a health advocate who is at a senior-level position in the company from whom anecdotal evidence is useful," says Baase.
She recommends simply approaching the individuals in person. Ask if they would be willing to share their stories, and tell them how much it would mean to others and the value it would bring to the company.
•Invite employees to share their successes on your web site.
UPS employees can post wellness stories on a blog on the company's health and safety web site. The company also obtains stories through the health coaches at Aetna, Breen says. "They ask anyone who has a positive health change such as losing weight or quitting smoking to share their story," she says.
• Share stories companywide.
Occupational health nurses also send out word of their successes to all their colleagues. "Stories are shared both through local health and safety newsletters and also as featured stories on our corporate web site," says Breen. "For every success story with a decrease in health risks, an average monetary value can be applied."