Ericsson adds sleep, nutrition to online wellness program

Ericsson is adding sleep and nutrition features to its online wellness program to educate employees and motivate changes in behaviour.

Its E-Health program, which began in April 2016, is rolling out the new options to coincide with its two-year anniversary. Since its introduction, more than 60 per cent of Canadian and American employees have participated, according to Susanne Gensch, wellness and recognition program manager at the multinational telecommunications company.

Read: Ericsson Canada rolls out national e-health program

“First, we had to prove to leadership that the program is actually making a difference and it helps with employee engagement and motivation and health,” she says. “Then it was agreed that an additional investment can be made, so that’s why we’re looking at these enhancements for this year. Also, to show employees that it is a continued investment in their health.”

The new sleep feature allows employees to draw connections between their life activities and the quantity and quality of their sleep, says Gensch. Employees can track their sleep through either a Fitbit or free apps downloaded to their phones, both of which they can then link to their wellness program account. “And then you can manually add to your tracker — on a daily basis — activities; for example, that you worked out the night before or that you had a glass of wine or a late dinner or maybe even something positive: you meditated the night before.

“With having all these activities on your sleep tracker, you then realize, ‘OK, that’s probably not a coincidence that every time I work out late in the evening, I have a hard time falling asleep at my regular bedtime.’ So then maybe that drives you to adjust your habits so your sleep is less affected by it.”

Read: Sleep a serious issue with major productivity costs for employers

The nutrition module provides employees with information and tips, but it also connects to a free app called MyFitnessPal, which allows users to scan the products they consume and enter details about their daily eating habits.

“For somebody who’s just starting off on this road to well-being and focusing on a healthy lifestyle, they don’t look at nutrition labels, they don’t track their food, so they really have no idea how many calories they take in on a daily basis. Or when they think they’re splurging, they don’t really know how much of a splurge it is really,” says Gensch.

“I think that brings a lot of awareness and accountability to our members and they’ll hopefully be able to move the needle a little bit when it comes to [body mass index],” she adds, referring to MyFitnessPal.

Ericsson’s online wellness program also includes access to a health risk assessment. The company reviews the aggregated results on an annual basis, using the information to guide its wellness program. Alongside sleep and nutrition, employees can track physical activity, productivity, social and financial health and stress management.

For the first time in 2018, the company will bring together all of the program’s offerings on an online hub, including the health and well-being elements of the benefits package, such as an employee assistance program with Morneau Shepell Ltd. and group benefits through Manulife Financial Corp.

Read: What you don’t know about your employee assistance program

“We have this all listed on the portal for easy access, but now when an employee indicates, through setting their interests on the portal or by answering their health risk assessment in a certain way, they will receive customized messaging to go seek out those programs,” says Gensch.

“Before, it was a stagnant page that provided all these links to the program, so you as a member have to go out and find it. But April 1, the programs will find out, based on your activities. A lot of times, employees feel that all of our benefits are so siloed. And we want to make sure they feel it’s one package and its connected and complements each other.”

Ericsson will begin communicating the details of the enhanced wellness program on April 2, beginning with a message sent to all members noting E-health’s second anniversary. It will include details of the new sleep and nutrition features in its weekly newsletter to all North American staff. And its wellness champions at each site, including its Canadian locations in Mississauga, Ont., Ottawa and Montreal, will continue to push out the message.

Read: Why you should hire a wellness champion

“Our wellness champs at the Mississauga and the Ottawa sites are holding their Q2 event in that first week of April to celebrate the birthday but also the new features,” says Gensch, noting that the Montreal wellness champions are opting to host their event later in April. 

Television screens at all three Canadian locations will also feature information about the enhanced wellness program, and the company will use its internal social media. “Ericsson has a Yammer channel,” says Gensch. “E-health Canada has its own group in there, and that’s where we post this kind of information and all kinds of news and tips on well-being.”