The Well-Being Journal

Well-Being at Work, Healthways Style

Jennifer Rudloff

What would you think if you saw a co-worker walking to the printer sporting workout attire and wearing a camelback? At Healthways, it happens weekly. We encourage our colleagues to spend time during the day doing something to improve their well-being. In this video one of our colleagues talks about the culture at Healthways and how he gets involved.

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To learn more about some of the health and well-being initiatives we offer our colleagues, click here.

Topics: Healthy Living work Work Environment Workplace Well-Being Engagement Health Health in the Workplace Wellness Culture Wellness Program

Hidden Factors Influencing Well-Being in the Workplace

Jennifer Rudloff

While everyone agrees a sick work environment is detrimental to your well-being, most people would have trouble articulating how, and how much. Interestingly, findings from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® (WBI) and the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ (WBA) are starting to bring more clarity about the work environment a person is experiencing. When we compare individual’s answers against their responses to other questions, we’re able to recognize the overall impact on well-being. Some of the factors are obvious, while others are subtler, or even hidden.

Let’s start with the more obvious. In more restrictive work environments workers are less likely to exercise and eat right. This is because leadership is less likely to establish a culture that is supportive of well-being. In this environment the building is less likely to be mindfully engineered to make the healthy choice the easy choice, and policies aren’t likely established to allow flexible time for exercise. As the result, employees will feel less support for work/life balance.

Unfortunately, much of the negative impact of the work environment on well-being is less obvious. Take Life Evaluation for example. We ask people to rate their current lives and how they think their lives will be in five years on a scale of one to ten. This allows us to gauge their level of optimism and hope. The group that scores the best, we call them “thrivers,” are generally more skewed toward lower risk, and have less chronic illness. We believe this is because they have their emotional and social houses in order, and thereby have more time, energy, and propensity to take good care of themselves.

Our data shows that the thrivers do better on 16 different social and emotional variables, or perhaps said in reverse, doing well on these variables is what allows them to “thrive.” Of the 16 variables, 7 are impacted by a person’s experience in the work setting. These include: job satisfaction, job overload, co-worker issues, technology, supervisor issues, training, and resources. If the work culture does not support workers in these areas there will be a social and emotional impact that reduces the chances they will take care of themselves. This results in more risk factors and higher disease prevalence, which adds to health-related costs and leads to deterioration in their work performance. Thrivers have less activity impairment, less productivity loss, and higher presenteeism than their workforce peers.

We have information on many other factors too. Here are a few highlights:

  • People who report poor work environments are more likely to have a high BMI. In fact, poor work environment has almost as high a correlation to BMI as does low physical activity and poor eating habits. In this sense, an aggravating boss can make you fat, because it causes stress, which can distract you from taking action on a healthy lifestyle.
  • 31 percent of people who report being in a poor work environment also report being angry “a majority of yesterday.” To put this in perspective, that level of anger is on par with the poorest 100 hundred counties in the US, as well as the troubled countries of Sierra Leone and Haiti. Anger is one of those emotional factors that keep people from living a healthy lifestyle. Can you imagine trying to establish an effective worksite health management program in an environment where over 30 percent of the people are angry on any given day?
  • There is a negatively compounding link between poor work environment and chronic illness. People with one to three chronic illnesses who report a poor work environment, also report having 6.6 more days a year of activity impairment than their counterparts in a positive work environment. That number increases to 16.2 days for those with four or more chronic illnesses. (Note: About 54 percent of the workforce has at least one chronic illness.)
  • Even commuting to work has risk! Statistics show that for every 15 minutes more people commute their anger and stress goes up, their rest and exercise goes down, their eating behaviors worsen, and they become more over-weight.

There are many interesting findings on how work environment affects well-being, these are only a few. Is there anything you can add, even if it is just observational? What would you do about it at your worksite? I look forward to you responses.

Topics: Healthy Living work Work Environment Workplace Well-Being Health Well-Being Index Health in the Workplace Wellness Culture Wellness Program Leadership Occupational Health

Secrets to Success for Workplace Wellness Programs

Jennifer Rudloff

As companies begin to look for ways to reduce costs and improve the engagement and productivity of their people, many organizations turn to workplace well-being programs for the solution (and for good reason). In this video blog John Harris shares some secrets to success around creating the culture of well-being necessary to create and sustain successful wellness initiatives.

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Topics: Healthy Living work Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Health Competitive Advantage Health in the Workplace Wellness Culture Secret to Success Wellness Program Leadership Occupational Health

Lincoln Industries: A Case for Well-Being

Jennifer Rudloff

Recently, CFO magazine published a story on Lincoln Industries inspired by the findings of a new study done by Lincoln Industries in conjunction with Healthways and the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO). This study, featured in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, is among the first peer- reviewed research evaluating the effectiveness of worksite health and wellness programs offered by a small employer. Findings support the premise that high-quality employee wellness programs in small businesses improve employee health and well-being, which drives organizational outcomes such as absenteeism, healthcare costs and disability claims.

The study shows a phenomenal corporate culture of health at Lincoln Industries, adopted by the company years ago. Lincoln adopted a culture of health years ago. Its leadership realized that to take its wellness program to the next level, there needed to be a stronger emphasis on well-being, focusing on the whole person, not just physical health. To gain a better understanding of the needs of their population and identify areas of opportunity, they began using the Healthways Well-Being Assessment™ (WBA). The WBA assesses physical health, emotional health, healthy behavior, work environment, life evaluation, and basic access to food, shelter, healthcare and other necessities, and provides management with a comprehensive, holistic view of the health and well-being of their employees.

The study marks an important step toward broadening the workplace well-being impact beyond just large businesses. Small businesses, which stand to benefit from financial incentives provided by healthcare reform legislation, are in need of guidance regarding their investment in programs that deliver results.

Lincoln is a great example of how to do it right. They make well-being a part of individual objectives, and as a the result, they’ve seen a 5 to 1 ROI in wellness programs. They achieved an 87 percent response rate on the Well-Being Assessment (without incentives). Additionally, approximately 99 percent of employees complete regular health screenings with the majority of the workforce participating in wellness programs throughout the year. They’ve successfully reduced tobacco use, significantly reduced workers compensation costs, and have consistently managed to beat the national average on health insurance rates by $3000 per employee.

So how do they do it? Watch the interviews below where their Director of Wellness, Safety and Life Enhancement, Tonya Vyhildal talks with us in about the well-being improvement programs at Lincoln Industries. For a more detailed dive into their successes, watch her complete presentation from the Healthways Well-Being Summit here.

As a leader in well-being, how do you promote well-being internally?

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How do you tie well-being into individual objectives?

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What impact have well-being programs had on your organization?

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Why do you include well-being as a performance measure?

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Talk about the HERO paper published in the Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine,

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What's the one thing you'd tell an employer looking to move to well-being?

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Topics: Return on Investment Well-Being HERO Tonya Vyhildal Nebraska Workplace Well-Being Business Performance Competitive Advantage Prevention wellbeing and health Wellness Lincoln Industries Healthways Wellness Program Well-being Assessment