The Well-Being Journal

St. Joseph Health Expands Workplace Wellness Programs to Improve Employee Well-Being

Madison Agee

At the 2015 Integrated Benefits Institute Annual Forum in San Francisco this week, Elizabeth Glenn-Bottari, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Integrative Health St. Joseph Health in Irvine, California, discussed health and productivity management guided by a workforce’s professional, social and emotional well-being. St. Joseph Health has partnered with Healthways to better understand and improve employee well-being, developing a program that has reduced high claims costs, absenteeism and presenteeism. As Glenn-Bottari was quoted in the March 18, 2015 issue of Business Insurance, “we feel that the investment is meaningful, because we can see from the data that we are influencing our employees' health and well-being.”

Click here to read the article (registration may be required, but is complimentary).

Topics: Well-Being In the News Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Competitive Advantage

Improving Well-Being in a Challenging Population

Madison Agee

When you think of the type of organization that implements a well-being improvement program in its workforce population, what comes to mind? If you’re like many people, you’re probably imagining a professional services organization with a predominantly white-collar workforce — the type of environment where employees usually have good healthcare coverage and long employment tenures.

It’s no different when it comes to the scientific literature that has looked at the outcomes of programs such as workplace wellness and employee well-being improvement. Studies have historically focused on professional, white-collar environments, essentially ignoring industries such as retail and warehousing where workers are typically more blue-collar. Thus, the recent publication of a study in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (JOEM) provides a much-needed and unique contribution to the scientific body, as it examines the outcomes of a well-being intervention program among a mostly blue-collar employee population.

The study, “Well-being, Health and Productivity After an Employee Well-being Intervention in Large Retail Distribution Centers” was authored by the Healthways Center for Health Research and reveals the positive outcomes that occurred following a Healthways-driven well-being intervention at a large retail employer. Supporting what is perhaps a common assumption regarding blue-collar workers, the participants in this study, on average, faced significantly more challenges than individuals in the surrounding community. These challenges included lower overall well-being scores, physical health, healthy behaviors, basic access and ability to afford food.

Despite these pre-intervention challenges, the employees in the study achieved measurable improvements in overall well-being scores, biometric measurements and workplace productivity over a six-month period. For example, overall well-being improved by nearly 2.5 points, while healthy behaviors improved 12.1 percent. Additionally, total cholesterol dropped an average of 10.8 points, and on-the-job productivity improved by 18.8 percent.

In addition to being traditionally associated with white-collar environments, workplace wellness and well-being intervention programs are often expected to require significant time to produce successful outcomes. Therefore, employers in industries in which high turnover among workers is common (such as retail) may be reluctant to implement programs that are perceived as long-term investments in their workforce. This study shows, however, that after only six months of intervention, participants realized noticeable improvement in all three categories of metrics in the study: well-being scores, biometric measurements and on-the-job productivity.

This may be especially appealing given the significant improvement in productivity that was seen during this study —results similar to the 18.8 percent improvement seen in the study over just a six-month period could be incredibly important in many workplaces. To read more about improving on-the-job productivity, download a copy of Healthways’ eBook 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Improving Productivity in the Workplace.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Productivity Science and Research

The 3 Leadership Tenets Behind a Strong Well-Being Culture

Madison Agee

 

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Are your leaders actively -- and visibly -- improving their own well-being?

If your organizational culture and your stated commitment to well-being improvement aren’t in close alignment with one another, you could be unconsciously undermining the potential of your wellness programs. In other words, culture counts – a lot. It doesn’t matter how excellent your benefits package and well-being improvement offerings are if they’re at a constant disconnect with your overall culture. For example, what’s the point of having a generous paid time off (PTO) policy if employees are never actually taking vacation days?

An essential step in determining the state of your well-being culture is to turn a critical eye on your organization and ask some important questions. Once you’ve completed this self-evaluation, you can focus your attention on those areas that you’ve identified for further development. For many organizations, the commitment and behavior of their leaders is a crucial area for improvement.

In a popular webinar from June, experts from Gallup and Healthways provided a great deal of insight into the important role leadership plays in creating, cultivating and sustaining a culture of well-being. According to Ross Scott, Chief Human Resources Officer at Healthways, there are three key leadership tenets behind a strong culture of well-being:

  1. Leaders should be grounded in the value proposition of and fully understand the business case for well-being. Do your leaders truly believe in the value of well-being – that healthier people cost less and perform better? If they do, then they’re much more likely to participate in and encourage their teams’ participation in well-being programs. But if there’s any lingering doubt in a leader’s mind, that could inhibit the success of your well-being improvement program.
  2. Leaders’ own well-being impacts their ability to show up and lead effectively every day. Employees, of course, will model the tone and behaviors set by your leaders, so leaders can’t just expect that employees will embrace and embody better well-being without them. Demonstrating their individual dedication to well-being improvement can make leaders healthier, happier and better in their roles. At the same time, doing so shores up the strength of your well-being programs by not only making it okay, but actively encouraged for employees to engage in well-being improvement activities.
  3. Leaders have the opportunity to influence the well-being of others with every interaction. As described by Gallup, there are “20,000 moments in a day” during which organizations can positively impact their cultures of well-being and help their employees on their own individual journeys. Leaders who remember this and continuously take advantage of the multiple touchpoints and opportunities they have with their employees can make a tremendous positive impact. Relatively simple actions – smiling, taking a moment to listen to an employee, starting a meeting with a question about well-being – can be incredibly powerful actions.

So, how well are your leaders doing in terms of supporting your culture of well-being? Are they exhibiting these three key tenets on a regular basis? Simply educating them on these three principles could help you cultivate your well-being culture – perhaps your leaders aren’t totally aware of the enormous impact they have.

As you’re building your well-being culture, you may want to consider a few thought-provoking ideas that can continue to guide your organization. Luckily, we’ve collected nine of the top ways organizations can create and grow their well-being cultures – complete with easy tips for getting started today with little to no major investment of resources or budget.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Productivity

Is Well-Being an Integral Ingredient in Your Organization’s Cultural Recipe?

Madison Agee

This cake may look pretty, but if you left out an essential ingredient - like sugar - it's probably going to taste awful. Similarly, omitting the key element of the right kind of organizational culture can inhibit the success of your well-being improvement program.

More organizations are looking to wellness and well-being improvement programs to help them improve productivity and manage ever-growing healthcare costs. As they invest in these types of programs, organizations logically want to maximize their returns and improve outcomes as much as possible.

But what happens when programs aren’t creating the results organizations want to see? The easy scapegoat is the design or implementation of the wellness program itself, but what organizations may underappreciate is the critical role that their own culture plays.

Consider, for a moment, baking a cake without sugar. Although it may look like a cake, it certainly wouldn’t taste like one. It’s a similar situation with culture, which is an essential ingredient in the overall recipe for well-being improvement. If you’re expecting your employees to prioritize high well-being, but your culture is working against you (for example, leaders aren’t participating in offered activities or engaging in a well-being dialog), then you’ve likely set yourself up for disappointment.

Ask yourself the following questions to better understand how well you’re actually baking well-being into the very recipe of your organization:

  • Are our underlying attitudes and assumptions reflective of a true commitment to well-being? A crucial element in a culture of well-being are the very values and rituals that are important to your organization. How is well-being actually “folded into” your core values and the ways in which colleagues interact with the organization, your leaders and one another? For instance, does your organization have an annual volunteer day that encourages employees to give back to their community?
  • Are we structurally aligned to well-being? A culture of well-being requires that your organizational structure reflect it, with programs, benefits and activities that encourage and enhance well-being. If you’re not offering these kinds of things, you could be at risk of simply “talking the talk” and not “walking the walk.” What kinds of things, such as providing a tobacco cessation program or launching an organization-wide “steps challenge,” are you doing to improve well-being within your organization?
  • Are we actively supporting our employees’ well-being? In the absence of continuous support for your employees’ individual well-being journeys, your employees could actually perceive you as actively discouraging them. Real encouragement takes place in an environment where people are not only openly talking about well-being improvement, but actually caring if their colleagues are working towards it. If co-workers aren’t saying “good for you” when a team member decides not to check email on a long-awaited family vacation, you may have an unsupportive culture.
  • Are our leaders modeling the right behaviors? The role of leadership in creating and supporting a culture of well-being can’t be understated. Take a close look at what your leaders are saying – and doing – on a regular basis to better gauge whether they’re shoring up or undermining your culture of well-being. Are they, for example, always wearing a suit on days when you allow your employees to wear workout clothes?
  • Are we properly incentivizing or encouraging well-being behaviors? Behavior change is not easy for most people – typically employees may need to be urged or incentivized to participate in activities and programs that enhance their well-being. What’s your organization doing to create this sense of excitement and desire among your employees that helps them along on their journey to better well-being?

By asking yourself the questions above, you can get a much better sense of how truly integral well-being is to your organizational culture. We’ve assembled some additional questions you can use to better benchmark where your organization currently stands, as well as guidance to help you develop your own action plan for creating a culture of well-being.

In a June webinar, experts from Gallup and Healthways explored the topic of well-being cultures in more detail, and shared some great insights into how organizations can create start or enhance their own journeys. Download the webinar recording to learn more.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Competitive Advantage Productivity