The Well-Being Journal

Are You Seeing the Big Picture?

Jennifer Rudloff

It’s important to keep a finger on the pulse of your organization to stay in tune with employee needs and challenges, and engagement levels. You can’t move what you can’t measure. This need to measure has led to a seemingly endless stream of surveys. There are health risk assessments, engagement surveys, presenteeism surveys, and the list goes on…Like many other people in the market, we recognized that there had to be a better way.

Fortunately, we didn’t have to look far for the answer. Realizing the power behind our work with Gallup on the Well-Being Index (WBI) Healthways quickly asked how we could apply the science and research behind the WBI to individual employers or health plans. As a result, Healthways went to work building a tool that combined elements of the WBI with those of other common surveys, creating a comprehensive tool to measure the health and well-being of an employer population. This resulted in the birth of the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ (WBA).

This is not your typical survey. It goes far beyond the standard HRA question set and shifts focus to include the entire individual - and for good reason. Research increasingly reveals vital linkages between healthcare costs, productivity, physical health, emotional health, health behavior, work environment, social support, and basic access to necessary resources. Shifting away from purely physical health, the WBA leverages WBI questions for a baseline comparison against the nation, with an emphasis on employee health, productivity, and the work environment. With an understanding of employee engagement, health, and well-being, organizations can better determine where to focus efforts to influence the greatest performance opportunities, both financial and personal, within their populations. Makes sense, right? Individual and population-level reports generated from the WBA provide an intimate, holistic view of the workplace and actionable information that can help guide decisions on health benefits, work environment, corporate culture and overall business performance.

In more detail the WBA allows organizations to:

  • Gain a comprehensive view of employees’ social, emotional, physical and financial well-being to understand how to target investments that best support those needs.
  • Assess the real quality of the work environment, including its stressors, culture, leadership, wellness and prevention programs, and recruitment and retention strategies to determine exactly where improvements are needed for a more engaged workforce.
  • Benchmark your organization or institution nationally, regionally and locally; or by job, business unit or location. (Who else can provide a real-time benchmark against the nation.)
  • Create customized solutions for your unique workforce to provide a more supportive work environment and earn recognition as an employer of choice.
  • Understand the health conditions the workforce is experiencing and how you can support them for optimal productivity and minimal absenteeism.
  • Learn what the significant contributors are to direct medical costs – whether they are systemic or exist in unique locations within the organization – and apply the findings to design and target ways to better address health cost drivers and reduce healthcare costs.
  • Use the results as a market differentiator to retain and attract customers. (for health plans)
  • Make specific comparisons among subsets of their populations and conduct year-to-year comparisons to gauge progress over time.

Human performance drives business performance in every organization. While many organizations use HRAs to understand and improve workforce health and guide programs to reduce healthcare costs, they’re missing the big picture. There are many factors that influence our well-being and impact performance. The Healthways WBA offers organization-specific insight on these factors. Results magnify opportunities to maximize the outcomes of health and performance program investments, and to measure their impact and effectiveness over time.

Do you believe this broader approach to assessing the well-being of your workforce seems like the right idea? Is learning more about emotional, social, work culture, and the access variables of your organization important to you? Is it time the standard HRA evolves into more? We’d love to get your thoughts.

Topics: Well-Being Benchmark Workplace Well-Being Healthcare Business Performance Innovations in Healthcare Health Well-Being Index Competitive Advantage Prevention HRA How to Improve Employee Performance Health in the Workplace Wellness Healthways Employee Performance Improvement WBA WBI Well-being Assessment

National Employee Wellness Month

Jennifer Rudloff

The third annual National Employee Wellness Month (NEWM) kicked off on June 1st nationwide in an effort to promote existing healthy living programs and share successful strategies for corporate health initiatives. NEWM gives employers a great opportunity to jumpstart or enhance your company’s well-being programs and maybe even try out some new initiatives. If properly administered, these programs will not only have the potential to lower healthcare costs, but they will also ultimately create happier, healthier and better performing employees.

As a proud sponsor of NEWM, Healthways is implementing our own initiatives to improve our employees’ well-being on a number of levels, and encourage everyone to be healthy and social. Here are a few of the things we’ve put in place.

  • Fitness classes: We are offering our colleagues a variety of fitness classes on site to fit their schedules. They can choose to exercise before work, at lunch, or at the end of the workday.
  • ‘Workout Wednesdays,’ allow and encourage employees to wear workout gear to the office to help remove some of the barriers to exercise. We also offer additional fitness classes on these days and encourage group walks.
  • Walking workstations: our employees can get away from their desks and get moving by working from one of our walking work station treadmills.
  • Healthier and Fresher Food: In addition to providing healthy options in our Café, we’ve also startedan herb garden on site which our chef can pull from, and we offer a weekly farmers market for employees to get fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • We offer Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction classes to employees to help them better manage their stress.
  • All of our many web-based, telephonic coaching, and disease management programs are available to our colleagues, just going to show it is so good we eat our own cooking
  • Company sports leagues: We help employees form teams for local sports leagues. Employees often gather together at lunch to practice in the courtyard.

In addition to our own workplace initiatives, we have launched Healthways|Blue Zones Vitality Cities, a community-wide well-being improvement initiative in the Southern California’s Beach City Health District. Read more about what we’re doing to help communities.

When talking about workplace well-being initiatives, it’s important to note that success often requires a cultural shift that starts with leadership but is accepted at all levels of the organization. As discussed in a previous post, “wellbeing is highly valued by employees and a key driver in their level of job satisfaction, loyalty and motivation.” A new study finds a disconnect between employers and employees regarding wellness initiatives. The report found that 42 percent of employees say that their bosses do not look out for their physical health enough, while only 14 percent of management thinks the same. National Employee Wellness Month provides a wonderful opportunity for employers to open up a dialogue about well-being with their employees and renew their commitment to wellness in the eyes of their people.

**NOTE: Healthways was recently chosen to be one of Baltimore’s Healthiest Employers by the Baltimore Business Journal. To read about some of the initiatives that helped land us on this list, click here >>

What are some well-being initiatives you are thinking of or already have in place? What kind of wellness initiatives would you like to see implemented within your organization?

Topics: Well-Being Company Workplace Well-Being Healthcare Business Performance Health Competitive Advantage Prevention wellbeing and health How to Improve Employee Performance Health in the Workplace National Employee Wellness Month Wellness Healthways Employee Performance Improvement

Does your company have a Chief Well-Being Officer?

Jennifer Rudloff

When people ask me about my job, the description is often met with surprise. Chief Well-Being Officer is not a common position in today’s C-Suite – and I think that’s a mistake. I can think back to a time not that long ago when the concept of a Chief Technology Officer was foreign; thought to be a “creative” title commissioned only by the Googles and Sun Microsystems of the world. Yet today, the absence of a CTO is almost unthinkable.

I challenge companies to think differently about the health of their employees, their most valuable asset. Research shows that employee well-being can play a key role in establishing a competitive business advantage. For instance, while 30 percent of a company’s healthcare spend is linked to medical care and pharmaceutical costs, the remaining 70 percent is spent on health-related costs associated with worker productivity (Spector, Bruce. The Cost of Absenteeism in the Workplace. Nov. 1, 2010. www.employersweb.com.). The research also demonstrates that companies with effective health and productivity programs generate more revenue per employee, attain a higher market value and generate higher shareholder returns.

The impact doesn’t just positively hit a company’s bottom line ... you must take into consideration the top-line benefits that coincide with a focus on well-being. Employers that focus on prevention, provide value-added benefits and demonstrate that they care about their employees’ physical and emotional needs are more likely to attract and retain top talent. They are also more likely to earn and maintain employee trust and foster a productive environment through a high performing, engaged workforce. Bottom line: these companies are more likely to succeed.

The job of a Chief Well-Being Officer is to focus on how employees can be impacted at work, at home and in the community and how this impact can improve the overall business performance.

At Healthways, we understand the importance and value of maintaining happy and healthy employees.

Yes, happy employees are good for business ... just ask the Chief Well-Being Officer.

Topics: Strategies and Comparative Advantage Business Performance Competitive Advantage Prevention Motivation How to Improve Employee Performance Employee Performance Improvement