The Well-Being Journal

Can Leaders Make or Break Well-Being Improvement Programs?

Sophie Leveque

Over the last several years, Healthways leaders have exhibited a high level of visible support for and engagement in our well-being improvement efforts. This high level of support from the top has helped us maximize program outcomes. Specifically, Healthways saw a 20 percent decrease, per member per month, in benefits spending during a five-year period.

In an earlier article, we explored this important role that leadership plays in sustaining a well-being culture and helping organizations see improved outcomes from their well-being improvement and wellness programs. Recently, Human Resource Executive (HRE) published an article that addresses this same issue, suggesting that the success of such programs is often strongly connected to how noticeably engaged organizational leaders are with them.

Featured in the article is Ross Scott, Healthways’ chief human resources officer, who discusses his views on the critical relationship between leadership and program effectiveness. Scott addresses a number of actions that leaders at Healthways have done to more visibly engage in the company’s well-being improvement effort, including wearing fitness attire, holding walking meetings, and taking the time to introduce colleagues who may not already know each other.

The HRE article also highlights two pieces of Healthways research that demonstrate the link between well-being and worker productivity: a study entitled "Comparing the Contributions of Well-Being and Disease Status to Employee Productivity" published last year in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine and the annual Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®.

To learn more about the important role that executives play in leading well-being, read the full article here.

Topics: Well-Being In the News Workplace Well-Being Health in the Workplace Wellness Leadership

Should You Be Emphasizing "Feminine" Values at Your Organization?

Madison Agee

According to New York Times best-selling author and corporate consultant John Gerzema, the values that we traditionally associate with femininity – such as nurture, empathy, collaboration and flexibility – are the “operating system of the 21st century.” As he recently discussed at Healthways’ 2014 Well-Being Summit, where he connected well-being to leadership and consumer trends, most people already think these feminine values are of great importance, a trend that will only continue to grow in the future.

In the book, The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future, which Gerzema co-authored by Michael D’Antonio, the authors explore this idea in detail. Their research, which took into account surveys of 64,000 people in 13 countries around the world, reveals some interesting insight into what people believe to be important and the values and approaches they feel will benefit themselves, their families, communities and workplaces, and the greater good.

Results from the surveys indicate that two-thirds of people think the world would be a better place if men thought like women. More than half (57 percent) are also frustrated with the conduct of men. The authors then split their original survey group of 64,000 into two halves and asked the first half to classify 125 human traits (e.g., “confident,” “visionary,” “adaptive”) according to whether the traits were masculine, feminine or neither. They then asked the other half to rank the same 125 traits (which were not given any gender association) based on how those traits relate to leadership, success, morality and happiness.

Conclusions from their research led the authors to assert that people all over the world are looking for more “feminine” leaders – leaders whose power stems more from gentle influence and persuasion than autocratic control. Gerzema and D’Antonio also concluded that feminine values are on the rise, and that people now prefer these values to those historically associated with masculinity.

Gerzema provided Summit attendees with both the results of their research and examples of how this rise of feminine values is being played out in far-flung corners of the world. He discussed how businesses and organizations all over the world are rejecting traditional models associated with masculinity and instead emphasizing these more feminine approaches to leadership, work and productivity – and achieving incredible success from doing so.

Traits such as empathy, collaboration, inclusion and humility are helping organizations achieve their business goals. As surprising evidence of this shift in thinking, Gerzema shared that 67 percent of survey participants indicated that they would work for less money at a company in which they truly believed, upturning the classic model that people are primarily motivated by money. Clearly, liking what you do each day and being motivated to achieve your goals — in other words, having a sense of purpose — is a significant contributor to well-being. To learn more about the importance of well-being, download the Gallup-Healthways State of American Well-Being Report.

Topics: Well-Being Wellness Program Leadership Women Well-Being Summit Feminine

Need to Kick It Up a Notch with Your Wellness Program?

Sandy Cummings

Our friends over at Gallup have compiled some intriguing research, as always, about why corporate wellness programs often fall short of their goals -- plus what employers can do to turn things around. Check out this infographic:

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Discouraging data, given that programs designed to improve employee well-being have been shown to lower healthcare costs and improve employee productivity.

What steps can employers take to improve participation? Gallup researchers highlight the key role of managers in building awareness and trust, encouraging their teams to take part, and creating accountability for results. They also point out that programs that take well-being improvement beyond just the physical element -- in other words, that also work to elevate social, financial, community and purpose well-being -- have greater impact:

When comparing adults who are thriving in just Physical Well-Being with those thriving in all five elements, those in the latter group:

  • report 41% fewer unhealthy days
  • are more than twice as likely to say they always adapt well to change
  • are 36% more likely to say they always fully bounce back after an illness
  • are 23% more likely to donate money
  • are 43% more likely to have volunteered
  • are 65% less likely to be involved in a workplace accident
  • are 81% less likely to look for a new job when the job market improves

Read the full article here.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Well-Being Index Competitive Advantage Motivation Productivity Healthways Wellness Trends Gallup Leadership

Alabama's Anniston Star Gets It

Sandy Cummings

This week, Gallup and Healthways released our analysis of the state of well-being for communities, states and congressional districts in the United States. We've been conducting this research and analysis for six years now, and it always yields interesting tidbits -- for example, Boulder has the nation’s lowest obesity rate at 12.4%, making it the only community in the United States (covered by the report) that meets the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s stated goal of 15% obesity rate or lower.

The analysis generates some media attention each year. After all, we care about where we live, and we want to know how our states and communities fare in the rankings. Does the research echo what we believe to be true about our homes and our experiences?

We were excited to see the news covered this year by USA Today, The Huffington Post, the Boston Globe and many other media outlets -- even Diane Sawyer gave us a shout-out on "ABC World News Tonight." That's heady stuff.

But the editorial board at Alabama's relatively small Anniston Star really captured the reason that we collaborate on the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in the first place. Take a look. It's a quick read, but an important one, because Alabama ranked 47th this year, ahead of only three states — Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Well-being isn't the same as being happy, nor is it synonymous with good physical health or wealth. Tom Rath, who literally wrote the book on well-being, describes it as "the interaction between physical health, finding your daily work and interactions fulfilling, having strong social relationships and access to the resources you need, feeling financially secure, and being part of a true community."

In short, in areas where well-being is high, people have a greater tendency to be leading their best lives. And that, in turn, impacts business performance, healthcare costs and many other factors that are vital to helping communities thrive and grow.

Understanding where a population -- a state, a community, a company -- stands when it comes to well-being is the first step toward setting successful strategies for improvement. Because well-being can be improved -- it just takes leadership.

As the editorial board of the Anniston Star put it:

Not everyone in Alabama is obese. Not everyone has habits harmful to his or her health. Not everyone has trouble finding decent housing or healthy food. Not everyone has a fatalistic outlook on life. Yet, we all must work together.

Alabama is an example of what happens in the absence of leadership. Too many of its residents are denied an opportunity at the American Dream.

Past performance doesn't lock us into this prison forever. Everyone has a stake in seeing these conditions improve. Our prosperity as a state depends on it.

Topics: Well-Being Links of the Week Basic Access In the News Healthcare Community Well-Being Index Gallup Leadership