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

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

Men’s Health Month

Jennifer Rudloff

Men: June is all about us (ladies, you’ll have your turn). We take the time to celebrate our fathers, showering them with gifts of love and appreciation. And all month is devoted to our health. Men’s Health Month is celebrated each June in an effort to increase awareness of preventable diseases. Many chronic illnesses affect whole generations of men. Nearly 1 out of every 2 adults is impacted by at least one chronic disease, most of which are preventable. This is not only costly to each citizen and the US economy, but it also robs us of years of quality life. Education and awareness are the first steps towards action; and Men’s Health Month provides a nice opportunity to educate, reflect, and start down a path of prevention. But don’t be mislead! To actually prevent these illnesses men must take personal responsibility to make the necessary behavior changes.

It’s important to know what we’re up against. The findings in the table below from the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index® show the prevalence of some of the most common chronic diseases among men:

Chronic Disease Percentage of Adult Men
High Blood Pressure 30.4%
High Cholesterol 27.5%
Depression 12.5%
Asthma 9.2%
Diabetes 10.9%
Cancer 6.5%
Heart Attack 5.5%

One action every man can easily take is to get regular checkups from a medical professional. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that women are 100% more likely to visit the doctor for annual examinations and preventive services than men. Men’s Health Month implores all men to visit the doctor and seek medical advice and treatment. Men need to do this early and regularly to help combat the chronic diseases affecting our gender. The second step is to take some time to honestly assess your current behaviors. As a leader, it’s important that you lead by example. Start by asking yourself:

  • Do I smoke?
  • Do I exercise regularly?
  • What are my eating habits like? Am I eating enough fruits and vegetables?
  • Do I consume too much alcohol?
  • Do I drink enough water (8 cups of water a day is recommended)?

If you find yourself answering in the negative to any of these questions, it’s time to come up with a plan of action to make your life better. Smoking, lack of exercise, poor diet, and excessive consumption of alcohol are all directly related to the development of chronic diseases that affect men. Enlist the help of your loved ones – your parents, your partner, your children, your friends, and even your coworkers – to help keep you on track in taking the actions that will help you be more energetic today and healthier tomorrow. You are in charge of the direction of your life and Men’s Health Month is the perfect time to start making positive decisions that will redirect the course of your life.

Men’s Health Month has provided us with a great foundation from which we can begin to improve our well-being, adopt healthier habits throughout the year and encourage others to do the same. Here are few recommendations to help you and your people get started and stay on track:

  • Exercise is of key importance in the prevention of chronic diseases. Running or even walking is a great way to get active and stay active. Try organizing walking groups at lunch for your employees and track your progress with MeYou Health’s fun and interactive iPhone app, Monumental.
  • If you’re a smoker or have friends or co-workers who smoke, visit QuitNet.com for support and tips on how to help kick your smoking habit.
  • Check out Munch-5-a-day or EveryDRINK from MeYou Health. Also, sign up for the MeYou Health Daily Challenge that will send you simple daily health challenges in many areas of well-being. Challenge your people to do the same. You might strike up a little healthy competition in the process.

So for all of our readers – I want to know, how are you going to lead by example? What action are you going to take to change your lifestyle so that you can live a long, happy and healthy life? Leave your comments below. In the meantime I am off to the mountain bike trails. Perhaps I will see your there!

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being Health Prevention MeYou Health Mens Health Wellness Medical Costs & Utilization

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