Remote & hybrid work is here to stay: should your wellness benefits change, too?

Traditional on-site employee health and wellness programs create barriers to change. Here’s how to fix it.

Remote and hybrid work models, at least in some industries, are here for good. Employers and workers now asking what comes next for workplace health and wellness offerings?

For workplaces that have made the hybrid work model permanent, in-person fitness classes and employee wellness programs have often been eliminated as well. And while some employee programs moved into the virtual world, new barriers to health and wellness have been created.

So, is there a way to overcome these newfound hurdles to better health? The short answer is yes. In this blog, we’ll explore the importance of maintaining health and wellness programs for remote and hybrid employees, and how they produce positive results for companies and individuals alike.

Employer sponsored wellness programs can be a first line of defense

With employees holding on to the new liberties offered by remote and hybrid work models, companies are turning to digital/hybrid wellness and coaching options aimed at helping individuals maintain healthy habits and make lasting, impactful lifestyle changes. Such programs can provide a critical lifeline for workers.

An employee’s health and wellness can impact every aspect of their life, and not just the personal elements and their relationships. If an employee is struggling with inactivity, poor diet, stress, inadequate sleep, addictions, as well as any associated health risks such as depression and anxiety, their work, productivity, attendance and even company morale can be negatively impacted. In fact, according to a recent survey, the pandemic has intensified substance use among employees. More than one-third of workers struggling with addiction said their work has been impacted more since the pandemic began.

By providing wellness solutions that work for an increasingly virtual workforce, say in the form of digital and human coaching programs, employers can effectively engage their employees to make lasting change.

Mix of coaching programs can support health and wellness initiatives

Several unhealthy habits happen to be at the root of most chronic diseases. With many workers likely struggling with multiple issues at the same time, it’s important for companies to offer programs with the ability to prioritize care and meet each employee where they are in terms of their personal care needs.

For example, not every employee who smokes cigarettes needs to immediately start with a tobacco cessation program. Some workers may need to focus on reducing stress while others want to improve their sleep before they are ready to tackle kicking their tobacco habits. This is where many programs struggle to attract, engage, and produce real outcomes for employees. It’s because they take a one-size-fits-all approach to health and wellness, when in fact true success is realized with personalized care.

Personalization is critical to building a strong foundation that propels an employee’s momentum to change their unhealthy behaviors. When it comes to health and wellness, a mix of individualized and digital coaching can enable employees to get what they need, when they need it, how they need it.

By offering employees personalized health and wellness experiences, companies can effectively engage workers and drive employee satisfaction all while raising the likelihood of their successfully completing programs that will achieve improved health outcomes with lasting power.

Health and wellness programs lead to a reduction in overall expenditures

Did you know there are eight risks and unhealthy behaviors that account for some 80% of total costs for chronic conditions? Poor diet and stress management, excessive alcohol consumption, smoking, poor standard of care, insufficient sleep, and lack of health screening drive several chronic conditions including cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, congestive heart failure, lung and kidney diseases, among others.

Take smoking for example. In 2019, some 14% of American adults smoked cigarettes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, smoking-related illness in the U.S. costs over $300 billion each year, including nearly $170 billion for direct adult medical care and $156 billion in lost productivity.

Data signals that most chronic conditions, as well as the immense healthcare and productivity costs they can incur, are preventable. The key: helping workers eliminate unhealthy behaviors. Reducing risks and unhealthy behaviors ultimately comes down to individual employees. However, employer-sponsored programs aimed at curbing lifestyle risks can provide the support they need to make a change.

Moreover, enhanced wellness programs and health coaching can lower many costs for employers and employees alike. Employees who take steps to improve their general health, complete treatment protocols, and make healthier choices are less likely to miss work and require expensive medical interventions. On the other hand, those who take proactive steps to eliminate unhealthy behaviors and manage their chronic conditions will require less healthcare resources in the long term to help address recurring health issues.

With the pandemic giving rise to sustained remote and hybrid work conditions, exacerbating substance use, and creating new barriers to traditional workplace-sponsored health and wellness programs, it’s up to employers to foster opportunities for their employees to create and maintain healthy habits.


Substance use in the workplace: how to support member recovery

Digital coaching solutions can help employers make lasting changes in their workplaces and support employees dealing with substance use.

Hopeless. It’s how many people feel when caught in the cycle of substance use. The struggle is weighty and ongoing as people’s brains have been trained to encourage them to keep using the substance. The cycle can often feel impossible to break. However, while difficult to achieve, lasting change can be made.

One in seven people in the United States are projected to struggle with substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime, according to a report from the surgeon general. And, while 75% of people suffering from substance use disorder are part of the workforce, most employers are wholly unaware of their workers’ private struggles and the impacts such issues can have on all their employees and workplaces.

So, what can employers do to help even when they don’t know employees are struggling?

They can offer support and resources to employees and help break down barriers to treatment, giving workers an opportunity to make long-term change. Below, we explore the pandemic’s effect on substance use, the impact substance use has on workplaces and how employers can support their employees.

Pandemic propels increased drug and alcohol use

According to a recent survey, the pandemic has resulted in notable increases in workers’ substance use issues across all generations and industries. Some one-third of responding workers who reportedly struggle with substance use issues stated that their work has suffered more since the pandemic began.

Data suggests there have been large increases in fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine use since the coronavirus pandemic was declared a national emergency in March 2020. In fact, according to a study of over 880,000 drug test specimens, entitled “The opioid epidemic within the COVID-19 pandemic: Drug testing in 2020,” positivity for heroin increased by 44% once the pandemic began. An increase in the use of alcohol among U.S. adults was also noted by a study assessing the pandemic’s impact on drinking behavior and stress.

Extensive costs of substance use in the workplace

When it comes to employees’ substance use, most employers are often left in the dark while employees struggle in silence. This combination has damaging impacts. It can lead workers to leave the workforce outright or stay quiet as their work declines, damaging workplace health and safety.

For employees, the personal costs of substance use can include missed work that results in lost wages as well as the health and lifestyle side effects of drugs and alcohol use. For employers, substance use in the workplace can result in increased absenteeism, lost productivity, and additional healthcare expenses.

A recent report assessing the impact of substance use disorders in the workplace found that employees typically miss 15 work days each year for illness, injury or reasons other than vacation and holidays. On the other hand, employees with a substance use disorder were more likely to take 25.6 days off – or 1.5 weeks more than their colleagues – for illness and injury. However promising, employees who have recovered from a substance use disorder in the prior 12 months missed about 11 days of work annually.

Moreover, substance use disorder can result in higher turnover rates for employers and increase costs on recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new employees. One study found that employee turnover costs 33% of an employee’s entire salary, which stacked against the median wage in the U.S. can total about $15,000.

There are numerous negative impacts workers struggling with substance use disorders can have on workplaces that are harder to quantify including diminished job performance, faulty decision making, distraction and preoccupation with addictive substances, lack of focus, reduced cooperation with colleagues and supervisors as well as reduced workplace morale and illegal activities happening on site.

Employer support can lead to positive outcomes for all

Even without knowing about an individual’s personal struggles, employers can provide all employees with the support and resources they need to take the crucial first step toward treatment.

It starts with culture. Workplaces can positively and negatively impact the prevalence of substance use disorder. For example, workplaces where alcohol is readily available or there’s an acceptance of addictive substances can contribute to worker substance use disorder. Stressful, unhealthy workplaces can also be a breeding ground for substance use disorders. At the root of addiction is emotion, and workers who deal poorly with stress can intuitively train their brain to continue dealing with stressful situations in the same detrimental manners. Reducing stressors can play a role in helping workers overcome their struggles.

Next, employers can incorporate healthy living and substance use disorder education into their training and ongoing outreach programming. This can both inform employees about the effects of substance use disorders and help employees identify behaviors and changes in colleagues who may need support. In addition, employers can provide more robust benefits, resources, and behavior change courses, like LivingClear™, provide employees with confidential substance use disorder screening and online learning experiences, support treatment referrals, and deliver follow-up care to support employees in recovery.

By improving workplace culture, educating employees, and providing workers with supportive and confidential services, employers can break down barriers to treatment, encourage employees to seek help, and support employees in making lasting changes that benefit both the individual and workplace.


2021: Where we’ve been and where we’re going

Our 2021 journey and our roadmap for 2022.

By Clark Lagemann, co-CEO – Avidon Health

Compared to 2020, 2021 has almost felt… normal… almost. We’ve come a long way, but more importantly, we’ve helped countless people get and stay healthy.

We’ve made serious leaps this year and have big plans for 2022.

A new beginning

2021 was truly a fresh start as we set off to successfully unite two great organizations, combining the best of our health coaching and digital cognitive behavioral training pedigrees to become something more. With a bold new vision to fix the engagement problem in healthcare, Avidon Health was born.

A better approach for digital coaching at scale

Engagement Rx LogoBy spring, we launched a completely overhauled digital coaching platform, Engagement Rx®, to combine our innovative coaching methodology, cognitive behavioral training courses and content, and user-friendly technology capable of delivering individualized wellness experiences across large, diverse populations.

A modern, sophisticated approach to SUD support

LivingClear - Substance Abuse Disorders - BannerWe’ve long recognized the huge gaps in care relating to the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs), especially related to substance use in the workplace. With the pandemic making treatment much more difficult, along with the stigmas surrounding SUDs, we rolled up our sleeves and created an entirely new cognitive behavioral training course aimed at tackling this growing epidemic, LivingClear™.

Created by addiction specialists, LivingClear is an online, video-based instructional course dedicated to addressing the psychological and emotional factors that contribute to substance use disorders (SUDs).

Empowering clients to tailor their own wellness content

Content design studio layoutWhile many clients utilize our core coaching and content exclusively, there has been increasing demand for the ability to edit, or even create from scratch, courses and interactive experiences. We officially launched our new Content Design Studio, a “no-code” drag-and-drop flow builder enabling the simple creation of new coaching and educational experiences. Schedule a demo to learn more.

Microlearning Courses: Evolved for the way people learn

Microlearning courses bannerThis fall, we released our highly anticipated Microlearning Courses, the newest behavior change tool in our arsenal that offers bite-sized learning and support for those now ready to take the all-important first step.

Built using our new Content Design Studio, Microlearning Courses are based on the same high-quality, research-driven content as traditional courses, but with a modern approach aimed at increasing engagement. Healthy Weight and Nutrition courses are available now with new courses scheduled for release early next year.

Partnering with like-minded thought leaders

ACLM - Corporate Roundtable MemberWe were accepted into the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s Lifestyle Medicine Corporate Roundtable, a group of thought leaders and industry professionals who explore effective clinical innovations, activate marketing strategies, accelerate reimbursement and policy adoption, and pursue research and demonstrations of lifestyle medicine in practice. We’re ready to change lives together with the ACLM.

Ranked #117 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™

Deloitte Fast 500 recognitionIn November, we were proud and honored to be ranked #117 on the Deloitte Technology Fast 500™, a ranking of the 500 fastest-growing technology, media, telecommunications, life sciences, fintech, and energy tech companies in North America.



Events that are changing lives

Even though the pandemic changed the way we all usually interact with each other, we were still able to attend and support several events:

  • The 2021 National Wellness Conference from the National Wellness Institute where our team spoke on “The Science of Improving Health Engagement and Outcomes.”
  • Our continuing education webinar, “Health and Wellness Coaching for Shift Worker Population”
  • The RWJBarnabas 5k Run & Walk to honor their 35,000 healthcare workers who continue to provide essential care to our communities.
  • The Empowered Patient Podcast where co-CEO Tim Aumueller discussed the reasons why behavior change for chronic conditions in healthcare is so difficult to achieve, and how the Engagement Rx methodology solves this problem.
  • The Tech Talks Daily Podcast where I discuss how Avidon Health’s innovative technology and cognitive behavioral training can help employees who are struggling with substance abuse.
  • A variety of guest webinar appearances where our experts discussed everything from nutrition, to stress, to mental health, and other issues concerning patient engagement and wellness.
  • Avidon Health was honored to be recognized among the most innovative companies in New Jersey, celebrated at this year’s Innovate New Jersey Celebration.

2022 and beyond – “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”

While we are proud of the many achievements from the past year, our focus is always on the path in front of us. We can’t wait to roll out a number of updates in 2022, including:

  • New coaching dashboard with tools to make care teams even more efficient
  • Advanced digital coaching automation capabilities
  • Upgraded reporting suite
  • Enhanced biometric data capabilities
  • New video integration tools, including instant closed captioning for multiple languages
  • Ever-expanding content and course library to meet each individual where they are based on health goals, learning styles, skill levels, and readiness for change

Here’s to changing even more lives in 2022…together.

Wishing you and yours a very happy holidays!


Hybrid approach addresses patient engagement programs’ challenges

Patients need continuity of care, including coaching, to help them maintain progress and success.

Time to read: 3 minutes
By Clark Lagemann

Patient dropout in behavioral health programs is a common occurrence. In order to make meaningful and long-lasting change, providers need to understand the unique challenges program participants face. Developing a personalized, hybrid coaching program can help strengthen engagement and success.

In Clark Lagemann’s latest article in Behavioral Health Executive, he explores how a hybrid approach can help solve the patient engagement problem in behavioral health, including the benefits of in-person and virtual patient engagement programs and how they can drive greater access to care and increased long-term recovery for substance use disorders.

Click here to read the full article.


For contributed media inquiries, contact:
Kristin Hege

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