The Employee Wellness Network Launches During National Workplace Wellness Week

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As health care reform jumpstarts employers' commitment to wellness, the Employee Wellness Network is poised to serve the needs of the fast-growing wellness industry. The new social networking site for employee health and wellness professionals launched during National Workplace Wellness Week, April 5 - April 11.

The Employee Wellness Network, a social networking site that serves as the crossroads for professionals responsible for workplace health and wellness programs, officially launched on April 5, 2010, the first day of National Workplace Wellness Week. The site's web address is http://www.employeewellnessnetwork.com .

This new online community, which occasionally goes by the acronym tEWN, shares many of the features of popular social networking communities — such as friend connections, online discussions, event listings, messaging, and special interest groups — but also includes features specific to employee wellness professionals. There is a “bookstore” section, powered by Amazon.com, that includes books specifically relevant to employee wellness, and a Job section in which users can find opportunities to advance their careers. Membership in the network is completely free of charge.

In recent years, interest in employee wellness has skyrocketed. “Under the pressure of spiraling health care costs and a need to leave no stone unturned in trying to gain a competitive edge, employers learned that employee health and wellness is good business,” said Bob Merberg, founder of the Employee Wellness Network. In order to advance the wellness industry, professionals need ways to easily and economically learn from each other, share ideas, exchange resources, and build community.

“Years ago,” Merberg noted, “professional organizations filled this need, especially at their annual conferences.” Now, he added, it’s harder for some to attend conferences, because they increasingly represent smaller businesses with limited travel budgets, they’re too busy and can’t afford the time out of the office, or developments in the field and in their work move so fast that annual conferences don’t provide sufficiently frequent contact. Generally, Merberg said, the business world is looking for instant access to resources and instant results, and tEWN can facilitate both.

Merberg emphasizes that in this new day, wellness is not limited to exercise, nutrition, and weight management programs. “Employers are finally starting to see that it’s total well-being that counts,” he said. “And that includes employee happiness, work life balance, employee engagement, workplace environments and, perhaps most important, organizational cultures that foster health and wellness.”

In 2008, as a critical symbol to the nation, Congress passed a resolution recognizing the first full week of April as National Workplace Wellness Week. “It’s an honor to launch the Employee Wellness Network during National Workplace Wellness Week, which, in 2010, is April 5 -11,” said Merberg. Employee wellness received another boost from the recent Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which includes numerous resources, tax credits, and grants for employers — especially small businesses — seeking to implement a wellness program for their employees.

“On the heels of health care reform, we’ll undoubtedly see a redoubling of employee wellness efforts and a rapid increase in the number of professionals who either are dedicated to the field or have wellness-related responsibilities added to their existing duties, especially in Human Resources and Benefits,” said Merberg, who also runs an award-winning program for a Fortune 500 company. “These people are going to need to get up-to-speed quickly, and the Employee Wellness Network is the perfect solution for them.”

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