How often do we hear stories about a bad diagnosis that could have been prevented? October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month and it’s a timely reminder that we can’t take our own health for granted.
As we juggle busy work schedules, personal commitments and care for others, we many times put our own health last — making sure doctor’s appointments are kept for the kids while neglecting our own, postponing a regular check-up due to a deadline at work and forgetting to reschedule. But taking care of “me” needs to be a key part of our own health engagement.
As managing director, East region, and executive sponsor of the Willis Towers Watson Women and Supporters Inclusion Network, North America, I’m proud of our support for the National Breast Cancer Foundation through fundraising and partnerships across the country.
Our offices go pink all month long and reinforce the “Every step of the journey” campaign with messages on early detection, education and support services. I can’t think of a more important role we can play for our children and our colleagues as we continue to support the fight against breast cancer, the second leading cause of death amongst women.
Our most recent health care research shows that employers are actively concerned as well. They are pursuing a wider array of approaches to reduce health care cost and risk— both through improved program efficiencies and members’ health engagement. This emphasis on health engagement is critical as employers realize that the healthier and more emotionally and financially secure their employees are, the more productive WE are.
We find that companies are increasingly focusing on strategies to build the health and well-being of their workplaces to encourage healthy lifestyles. Insurers worldwide project cancer to be one of the top three diseases for at least the next five years. Breast cancer statistics indicate that about 1 in 8 U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
I encourage everyone — not just women — to support all the programs associated with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And for employers, remember that putting employees at the center of the health care strategy and expanding well-being programs to address not just physical health, but also financial emotional and social issues, is a key differentiator.
If we can adapt workplace environments to encourage good health habits, we’ll take one more step towards reducing the number of those unfortunate stories about an ugly disease that has impacted the lives of far too many women.
Susan Potter has more than 20 years of experience as a business leader and consultant. She helps organizations develop innovative solutions for their human capital, risk, and business issues. In addition to her consulting role, Susan leads the U.S. East region of Willis Towers Watson, overseeing client relationships, the delivery of the company’s products and services, people management and business operations.