The Well-Being Journal

Why Companies are Losing $21.8 Billion Today

James Kanka

By Jim Clifton, Chairman and CEO of Gallup, and Ben Leedle, CEO of Healthways

Ten cities in America stand out when it comes to high well-being – with Boulder, Colo.; Barnstable Town, Mass.; and San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Calif.; as examples of cities in the top 10. Residents in these places – compared with the rest of the country – are better connected to their community, have better financial stability and physical health, and have a higher sense of purpose.

These high well-being cities tend to exhibit many shared characteristics, including lower chronic disease rates, lower incidence of obesity, more frequent exercise, less smoking, and a more positive outlook on their community. These commonalities demonstrate a consistent, mutual foundation upon which the top well-being cities attain and maintain their status as standard bearers of well-being in America.

Now, imagine how different the nation would be if the well-being of the average American worker was just as good as that of the people in the top 10 cities – an attainable and measurable goal that can be achieved with the appropriate focus by business owners and their leadership.

If every one of America’s biggest companies – those with 10,000 employees or more – got serious about the well-being of their employees and matched the well-being of our nation’s top 10 cities in just two areas (obesity and smoking), we would collectively net $21.8 billion in reduced healthcare costs and improved productivity.

That figure gets even bigger by accounting for other health conditions and all the aspects of well-being that affect an employee’s life – like strong social relationships, engagement at work, and a sense of financial security.

And every uptick in well-being would pay off for those companies in not just cost savings and improved worker productivity, but also in increased loyalty, safety, and a better customer experience. Those companies could invest their capital in growth, not healthcare costs. Their employees would put their energy into their jobs, not their illnesses, sources of stress, and struggles.

Then there are the millions of other employees working in the millions of smaller businesses throughout the country – many of whom could benefit from improved well-being, meaning the total savings for all U.S. businesses would likely be hundreds of billions of dollars every year. This would put a sizable dent in our annual $2.7 trillion in healthcare spending.

So, what can business leaders do to capture this value? First, understand that the key elements impacting an employee’s day-to-day life go well beyond physical health and include factors like financial stress, social relationships, work environment, and community involvement. The most effective strategies drive awareness around all facets of well-being; help employees develop specific goals to improve their individual well-being; provide them access to resources; and foster ongoing engagement, motivation, and encouragement. Companies that have engaged their employees this way have seen not only lower healthcare costs and improved productivity, but also lower rates of absenteeism and turnover.

Here’s the thing: Chief executives and business leaders should not wait for the government to solve our healthcare spending problem. These leaders have to step up, because no one else is better equipped. Business leadership is all about solving problems, setting strategies, demanding accountability, and building on success. To attack this problem, business leaders must understand why the residents in the top 10 cities have higher well-being, and then take action to help their employees improve their well-being.

Leaders can, in fact, solve this problem one employee, one department, and one company at a time. They just have to choose to tackle it and then put the right systems in place.

Sure, there’s an altruistic component to helping your employees improve their well-being – it will be good for them, and it will be good for our country. Importantly, however, improving well-being will also make your company perform better – and ultimately, it will be good for business.

Republished with permission from Jim Clifton's LinkedIn

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Topics: Workplace Well-Being Well-Being Index

It's That Time of Year: 2013's Top 10 U.S. Well-Being Insights

Sandy Cummings

Gallup editors took a look back at the year in Americans' health and well-being, drawing on data from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. See their picks for the top 10 most important findings here.

If you've been indulging in a few too many holiday treats, don't forget the exercise, as finding number 10 points out that it's lack of exercise that's most linked to obesity.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index provides an in-depth, real-time view of Americans' well-being, giving governments, communities, employers and health plans unmatched insight into the health of their populations. The Well-Being Index includes topics such as life evaluation, physical and emotional health, health behaviors, work environment, and basic access.

Topics: Healthy Living Links of the Week In the News Exercise Well-Being Index

It's Better to Give

Jennifer Rudloff

With the holiday season upon us, Healthways continues its tradition of partnering with local organizations to shop for children who are at risk or less fortunate. It’s a tradition that began several years ago when a group of administrative assistants suggested this thoughtful idea as an alternative to a colleague gift exchange and lunch.

Getting Ready to Shop St. Louis colleagues getting ready to shop

At each of our locations, colleagues step away from their desks in the holiday spirit and head out by the busload to shop. Each person gets to shop for a specific child, picking up items from their list like clothes, toys and books. Healthways picks up the tab and we all get to be a part of spreading holiday cheer into our communities. It’s one of our colleagues’ favorite ways to be involved in sustaining our values-based culture.

With all of our locations participating, Healthways expects to give more than $120,000 worth of gifts and donations this year. Several locations have already completed their shopping, and others will wrap up this week. It’s wonderful to think about the smiles that will light up on Christmas morning, knowing that we’re helping bring joy and showing love and compassion to those who need it.

These are some of the local organizations and people our colleagues across the U.S. are working with to shop for those in need:

Wrapping Our San Antonio location aglow wrapping gifts for kids. See more pictures as they roll in on our Facebook page.

Chandler, Ariz.: Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley, Child Crisis Center, Sojourner Center, New Horizon Youth Homes, Be a Santa to a Senior
Des Moines, Iowa: Bidwell Riverside Center
Franklin, Tenn. (HQ): Youth Villages and McNeilly Children’s Center
Hawaii: Hawaii H.O.M.E. Project
Minnesota: Union Gospel Mission
Salt Lake City, Utah: Two families who have a child receiving treatment for cancer at Primary Children's Medical Center
San Antonio, Texas: Family Services Association and San Antonio Humane Society
St. Louis, Mo.: Operation Food Search together with 7 different churches in North St. Charles county
Others in Dallas, Texas and Seattle, Wash.

You can help too.
We know from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® that there are many Americans having trouble affording basic necessities like shelter and food. So we’d like to challenge you to also take a moment this holiday season to count your blessings, and think about how you can bestow one on someone in need. And maybe even make a tradition of it.

Even if you can’t give a tangible gift, an intangible gift such as your presence can mean the world to someone and benefit you too. A Gallup survey in conjunction with the Well-Being Index found that people who volunteered in the last six months experienced higher personal well-being across all domains (emotional health, healthy behavior, physical health and more) than those who did not volunteer. It just goes to show that it's truly better to give.

Topics: Financial Well-Being Basic Access Physical Health Emotional Health Community Well-Being Index Culture Events Leadership

Third Annual Ragnar Relay Tennessee, Sponsored by Healthways

Jennifer Rudloff

Healthways is a proud sponsor of the third annual Ragnar Relay Tennessee, which began today as more than 2,600 runners of all ages took their mark in Chattanooga, Tenn., on a journey toward Nashville. Teams of 12 runners divide the 196 miles into 36 relay legs.

Along the way, teams will pass by volunteer-supported exchanges for recharging. Healthways headquarters in Franklin is exchange #30, where teams can stop for food, hydration and rest. They’ll finish the race at Nashville’s Walk of Fame Park on Saturday, Nov. 10 between 2 and 8 p.m.

With its great weather and beautiful outdoors, the state of Tennessee should be a shining example of well-being. However, Tennessee ranks as the 10th worst state in the nation in terms of overall well-being and the fifth worst in physical health (according to the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index®). The Ragnar Relay provides a wonderful opportunity for Healthways to support the state’s well-being improvement and a great cause.

This year, Ragnar Relay Tennessee partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit organization that helps provide new and lightly used shoes to individuals and families in need. The organization has been collecting shoes around the state at several retail locations and from runners; they will donate the thousands of pairs collected after the race to families in need throughout Tennessee.

Thank you to all of the Healthways colleagues who are participating—runners and volunteers. If you see any Ragnar participants this weekend, join us in cheering them on!

Topics: Healthy Living Exercise Physical Health Health Community Well-Being Index Healthways Events