/ Podcast / The Workplace Wellness Revolution, With Jaqueline Olivera-Cella

The Workplace Wellness Revolution, With Jaqueline Olivera-Cella

Workplace wellness isn’t just a hot topic for human resources departments or a recruitment tool. It is a tool that has been shown to help employees take control of their health and wellness. This week, Dr. Sandi discusses workplace wellness and menopause with expert Jaqueline Olivera-Cella of wellBe Consulting.

As a professional actuary, Jaqueline helps employees mitigate risks for their employees. Lately, her focus has been on employee health concerns and developing solutions for employers to implement. She recently created cases about menopause in the workplace and how women can care for themselves at work.

Health coaches can be instrumental in helping women navigate this time of their lives and advocate for themselves in the workplace. They ask questions and encourage their clients to be curious, especially when it comes to their health. Together, coaches and clients can pause and ask, “What is happening?” and then seek out answers. Health coaches are also essential in helping clients find the language to explain what is happening and express their needs while remaining professional. In the workplace, health coaches are not only a tool for employees to reach their health and wellness goals but also a guide to advocating for employee needs.

Episode Highlights

  • How can health coaches benefit employers and employees?
  • Understand how menopause affects women in the workplace.
  • Learn more about Jaqueline’s publications and cases about workplace wellness.
  • How menopause can affect women in the workplace and ways to advocate for yourself.

Meet the Guest

Jaqueline Olivera-Cella

wellBe Consulting

wellBe Consulting

Jaqueline is a dynamic executive leader with over 15 years of experience in the fields of healthcare, employee benefits, and well-being. With a background in consulting, actuarial sciences, insurance, and healthcare leadership, she has developed a unique and diverse network and perspective with a global market reach.  An expert at transforming individuals and market needs into healthcare product capabilities and evidence-based solutions.

As the founder of wellBe consulting, Jaqueline specializes in shaping health solutions for thriving employees, bridging mental fitness, wellbeing, and business growth. Her commitment extends beyond professional pursuits, as she has also launched a non-profit social initiative aimed at disseminating actionable knowledge to boost employee health and corporate sustainability through ‘Health at Work’ collaborations. Notable highlights of her professional training include participation in the Harvard Medical School Global Healthcare Leadership Program, completion of the Columbia Business School Digital Healthcare Transformation program, and an IBMEC Executive MBA.

With a strong foundation in design, consulting, and strategy, Jaqueline is recognized for her client-centric advisory roles in the health and wellbeing space at wellBe consulting, as well as her expertise in strategic partnerships, go-to-market strategy for employer products and the development of success metrics. She is a thought leader in healthcare, consistently leveraging reliable and validated sources and data-driven insights to make informed decisions. An expert at transforming market needs into product capabilities and solutions for employers.


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Episode Transcript

Dr. Sandi: Welcome to “Health Coach Talk.” My guest is Jaqueline Oliveira-Cella. I hope I got your name pronounced correctly.

Jaqueline: Yes.

Dr. Sandi: We’ll call her Jaque. Jaque is a renowned thought leader. She is somebody who is working in employee benefits, the connection between wellbeing, and how employers can promote wellbeing. Welcome, Jacque. It’s great to have you on the podcast.

Jaqueline: Thank you, thank you, Sandra. It’s my privilege to be here talking with the team and just start a little bit about me. I’m Brazilian. I live in New York. I have been here since 2005, two dogs, two kids. I’m an actuary by background and I spent most of my career from different points of view developing and designing offerings to employers to help them mitigate risks for employees. Are there healthcare-related risks or protection for loss of life, right, or longevity? But my focus over the past few years has been on how we can use the learnings from data claims, from medical claims, from prescriptions, etc. The data-driven is always with me. So, how to identify top health risk concerns and help healthcare develop solutions and develop with them solutions that can address those top health risk concerns. Hence, it brought me to our conversation, because I was very curious on the role that health coaches could be playing. And we will get more towards the end.

So, what I wanted to I think we can highlight if that’s okay with you is, aside from my professional affairs as an advisor for healthcare and wellbeing solutions, the social impact branch of my work led me to develop Health at Work. What is that? Those are publications that you will find via LinkedIn, for example, that are focused on creating business case to address top health risk concerns, so for example, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, mental health, or more recently we developed a briefing on our relationship with food and how being so busy at work impacts that relationship. I have also collaborated with industry experts, consultants, brokers, employers to develop business cases such as Menopause at Work, right? With the Women’s History Month coming, we are already leaving in March. It’s hard to believe, but we are almost a day far from it. It just reminds us of… The Menopause at Work construct is still very relevant. We just started the conversation, right? And other than the clinical aspects of caring for menopause, which is part of life, right? Let’s say that 50% need to go through it, 50% of the population needs to go through it at some point in their lives. And when we look into demographics, that’s the working demographic that has the highest increase over the last 10 years, and it’s expected to have the highest increase.

So, how we can help this particular population with healthcare…first of all, with awareness, so we can properly educate not just women but also our males and youngsters that may not know. So, it starts from a school setting, right, from different stages of life, and see it for what it is. It’s part of life. We need to understand the symptoms, be able to care for the symptoms, have targeted care for the symptoms, but we also need to be aware of how it may or may not impact women in the workforce and use those learnings to identify what are the unmet needs that employers could take action towards. So, I highly recommend it. It was a beautiful collaboration with Sarah Ahmad and other industry leaders. I recommend this group to take a look at the Menopause at Work, which was published on LinkedIn. and it’s still on this topic. I think it’s relevant.

Sometimes it’s important to think beyond healthcare, right, for menopause in particular, because you need to think… It’s helpful to listen to what women is passing through while in a meeting. Let’s say a meeting with several other executives or several other stakeholders, most of them may not be passing through the same situation and you happen to have… I think one of the most common known symptoms is a hot flash. So, how to properly articulate what’s happening in a way that’s not going to impact your career in a way that people will understand, “Yes, I’m having a hot flash. It’s part of life. Let’s carry on. If I need to stand up and get a glass of water or take a minute, right, for a mental break for all of us and go to the bathroom, that’s not going to be… You can either carry on or have a pause. But in the end, that’s not going to be impacting the work we need to do.” So, it’s like having the proper language helps a lot.

The other point by educating the other 50% of our population, by educating males and senior leaders, we are actually helping them to help not only their employees but perhaps their spouse, perhaps someone else in the family that may be passing for the same situation, and don’t know how to navigate as opposed to leading like leaders at the pinnacle of their careers to be exiting the market, right, or leaving to a company that’s more inclusive, that embraces our stages of life. I don’t know if you have any questions for me, Sandra, on this particular topic. I knew that you wanted to talk about menopause, so that’s why I brought it up.

Dr. Sandi: I’m glad you did bring it up. It is an important subject and your focus is on menopause at work and so educating employers. And it also sounds like you are giving the employee who is experiencing menopausal symptoms, giving them permission to take care of themselves because women in particular like to please and so they might not want to disrupt a meeting by taking a break, or they may find that their cognitive, their processing skills have been impacted by going through menopause. Brain fog, for example, is very common.

So, you are giving people permission to bring this out into the open and feel that it is okay to take care of yourself as well as to highlight amongst leaders in companies what their workforce might be experiencing. So, how can health coaches be instrumental? Because health coaches can be those allies, those guides that can help women during this phase to, first of all, understand what they’re experiencing as well as seek the appropriate help and manage their symptoms.

Jaqueline: Beautiful. I love the question. I will need your help with that question as well because my understanding is that health coach is similar to any other healthcare practitioner, may start with being curious.

Dr. Sandi: Yes.

Jaqueline: Pausing and trying to understand what’s happening. Women may not even know that they are passing through menopause because it is an age range for menopause with an average age of 52 years old, but people on their early 30s may start their perimenopausal period. So, being curious about what is happening on the life of that individual and kind of connected to, well, if all the symptoms are happening and that also has connection with physiological changes in your body, perhaps you should have a conversation with your doctor and test, right? We know that the hormonal… All the tests is associated with identification, whether or not you are passing through menopause… I would say they are still under construction, but there are ways to understand what’s going on with your body.

So, being curious is step number one because as you see on the study, some women have sadly thought that they are going through dementia or starting Alzheimer’s or any other more serious mental health issue, brain issue, as a result of, like you mentioned, brain fog, right? As a result of not remembering as well as they use it to be super sharp. Now I cannot remember without taking notes. So, being curious and knowing how to recognize symptoms and helping individuals to ask the right questions to their physicians, that would be a first way to…like, I would say the stepping stone for help.

The other way they can help is by learning language. And that’s the piece you need to tell me that if this is something that health coach could do is helping language that could…a script like a sample language that could help those individuals to properly articulate what’s happening with them at work in a way that does not compromise the perception like how people see them at work.

Dr. Sandi: That is such a good role for a health coach to help people to have the talking points and feel comfortable sharing information without oversharing and without playing the role of the victim, but being able to be very honest with just what they are experiencing and also provide the validation that they are competent, that they are not going crazy because they might be thinking that, “What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I remember? My mind is going… I get upset at the drop of a hat. This is going to affect my performance review.” And so I think being very honest with your managers, for example, when it comes time for those performance reviews to share some of the situation that you are experiencing so that people will understand. And I think it’s all about having someone to listen to, that’s what the coach is for, and feeling heard, feeling heard and appreciated in the workforce regarding your role at work.

Jaqueline: Yeah, and I love that. And as they are helping individuals with the listening and perhaps helping them to properly articulate how they could explore the topic with their managers, they could also give ideas on how the employers could make their lives easier. So, for example, making sure that you are sitting in a location, if your work permits, that you are sitting in a location where you have more air coming through like something on those lines or being nearby the water cooler or the bathroom. Thinking about ways where you can take away the roadblocks for your team to succeed, right?

And I would also be open to look beyond work, right, because as we know, menopause symptoms may impact your personal life, right, other than your work life. And there are ways to care for it. So, knowing as well what are the options like just being educated about the options and knowing which questions to ask may help.

The other points that comes to mind, and all of this is well articulated on the article that we put together, is how they would…for example, flexible ways of working. So, if you happen to be in the middle of a treatment or going through certain times of the day that you may have had a very bad sleep night. And on the next day, instead of going through a long commute, if your work permits, could you be working from home or could you have a different work schedule, a more flexible work schedule?

Now, moving from the root causes and issues like some women… Like, one of the symptoms could be fatigue. It could be also loss of energy. So, moving from identifying root causes, education, awareness, knowing how to ask questions to care, right, where employers can be a partner as well as to identify whether or not the healthcare plans that they provide to their employees have a targeted approach to women’s health and, within their network, have professionals that are trained to support individuals passing through menopause.

Dr. Sandi: I love that. And as part of that care, they can offer five sessions of health coaching. We did a pilot project with a company years ago, the Slalom Consulting, and very positive results. So, employees of Slalom worked with our graduates for five sessions, and they made incredibly positive changes on biomarkers. They also commented that they felt that their employer now really understood them and believed in them and supported them. So, that was so valuable.

So, health coaching works and can be incorporated into benefits. So, Jacque, can you comment on care management? And we’ve touched on this, but the coach’s role in other areas, perhaps it’s diabetes management or mental health or obesity management.

Jaqueline: I love that. Thanks. Thanks for bringing this question. So, I’m part of the Global Health Care Leaders Program at Harvard Medical School. And one of the focus of my work relates to care coordination, in particular, care coordination for the capstone projects that we are working on. We’ll be focusing on care coordination for gestational diabetes.

So, when I looked into… And this is to mention that when you think about a non-communicable disease such as diabetes, right, it’s a disease that has several ramifications if not taken care of. And it’s a condition that impacts not only your… I don’t like to say body and mind because we are one individual, but it does impact your mental health. It’s something that you need to take care of throughout your whole life.

The connection with gestational diabetes is that women who develop gestational diabetes during pregnancy have 50%… Hopefully, we can change that with health coach. Fifty percent of women developing gestational diabetes develop diabetes within 15 years from birth. So, let me just rephrase that. The entire population of women passing through gestational diabetes, out of that, 50% develop diabetes type 2 at some point in their lives. So, when I think about the power that healthcare coaches and you are going to help me with that is that someone who look at ways to prevent that, that gestational diabetes could be converted into diabetes at some point in life, and will look into not just your biomarkers, your blood sugar, etc. but to also pay attention to behavior, to mental health, and other stressors that could accelerate the development of diabetes.

Dr. Sandi: Yeah, it is a big problem. And any coaches who are listening, this would be an area where your services are badly needed. So, this is an area that you can focus on. I love the work that you are doing, Jacque, and it is so, so important. And so can you share where people can find you if they want to learn more? And we will share the links you’d mentioned. The paper, we will share that in the show notes.

Jaqueline: Beautiful.

Dr. Sanid: But where can people find you?

Jaqueline: So, thank you again for listening, for this conversation. You can find our Health at Work briefings within LinkedIn. There’s a newsletter called Health at Work & People. That’s where you can find most of our social impact work. If I have to leave this beautiful group with one message is I understand that there are days where you have so much to manage at the same time that you, like yourself, needs to rethink and have a pause in order to be compassionate with the people you care for. So, take your me time, right, and find ways, find people that can be your community or your sounding board so you can be your best version of yourself at work and in life. So, thank you again, Sandra, this has been wonderful.

Dr. Sandi: It sure has and what a beautiful message to leave our audience with the importance of healthcare so that you can carry on and do good work in the world, your mission to serve others. So, thank you very much. We will continue to follow your work, Jacque, and to be continued. This is a wonderful conversation.