The Well-Being Journal

Is Well-Being an Integral Ingredient in Your Organization’s Cultural Recipe?

Madison Agee

This cake may look pretty, but if you left out an essential ingredient - like sugar - it's probably going to taste awful. Similarly, omitting the key element of the right kind of organizational culture can inhibit the success of your well-being improvement program.

More organizations are looking to wellness and well-being improvement programs to help them improve productivity and manage ever-growing healthcare costs. As they invest in these types of programs, organizations logically want to maximize their returns and improve outcomes as much as possible.

But what happens when programs aren’t creating the results organizations want to see? The easy scapegoat is the design or implementation of the wellness program itself, but what organizations may underappreciate is the critical role that their own culture plays.

Consider, for a moment, baking a cake without sugar. Although it may look like a cake, it certainly wouldn’t taste like one. It’s a similar situation with culture, which is an essential ingredient in the overall recipe for well-being improvement. If you’re expecting your employees to prioritize high well-being, but your culture is working against you (for example, leaders aren’t participating in offered activities or engaging in a well-being dialog), then you’ve likely set yourself up for disappointment.

Ask yourself the following questions to better understand how well you’re actually baking well-being into the very recipe of your organization:

  • Are our underlying attitudes and assumptions reflective of a true commitment to well-being? A crucial element in a culture of well-being are the very values and rituals that are important to your organization. How is well-being actually “folded into” your core values and the ways in which colleagues interact with the organization, your leaders and one another? For instance, does your organization have an annual volunteer day that encourages employees to give back to their community?
  • Are we structurally aligned to well-being? A culture of well-being requires that your organizational structure reflect it, with programs, benefits and activities that encourage and enhance well-being. If you’re not offering these kinds of things, you could be at risk of simply “talking the talk” and not “walking the walk.” What kinds of things, such as providing a tobacco cessation program or launching an organization-wide “steps challenge,” are you doing to improve well-being within your organization?
  • Are we actively supporting our employees’ well-being? In the absence of continuous support for your employees’ individual well-being journeys, your employees could actually perceive you as actively discouraging them. Real encouragement takes place in an environment where people are not only openly talking about well-being improvement, but actually caring if their colleagues are working towards it. If co-workers aren’t saying “good for you” when a team member decides not to check email on a long-awaited family vacation, you may have an unsupportive culture.
  • Are our leaders modeling the right behaviors? The role of leadership in creating and supporting a culture of well-being can’t be understated. Take a close look at what your leaders are saying – and doing – on a regular basis to better gauge whether they’re shoring up or undermining your culture of well-being. Are they, for example, always wearing a suit on days when you allow your employees to wear workout clothes?
  • Are we properly incentivizing or encouraging well-being behaviors? Behavior change is not easy for most people – typically employees may need to be urged or incentivized to participate in activities and programs that enhance their well-being. What’s your organization doing to create this sense of excitement and desire among your employees that helps them along on their journey to better well-being?

By asking yourself the questions above, you can get a much better sense of how truly integral well-being is to your organizational culture. We’ve assembled some additional questions you can use to better benchmark where your organization currently stands, as well as guidance to help you develop your own action plan for creating a culture of well-being.

In a June webinar, experts from Gallup and Healthways explored the topic of well-being cultures in more detail, and shared some great insights into how organizations can create start or enhance their own journeys. Download the webinar recording to learn more.

Topics: Well-Being Workplace Well-Being Engagement Business Performance Competitive Advantage Productivity

Five Hits of Community Well-Being for June

Sandy Cummings

The weather's looking good, and it's time to get out and enjoy it. Here's a quick list of community events to help improve your well-being in June.

June 6 – National Yo-Yo Day

National Yo-Yo Day is the perfect day to get out your yo-yo and have some fun playing “Sleeper,” “Walk the Dog” and “Shooting the Moon.” Believed to be invented in ancient Greece, the Yo-Yo became popular in America when Donald F. Duncan Sr. manufactured the “Duncan Yo-Yo” in the early 1900s. You can visit the National Yo-Yo Museum in Chico, California.

June 7 – National Trails Day

National Trails Day is a celebration of America’s magnificent trail system and features a series of outdoor activities designed to promote the importance of the 200,000 miles of trails in the United States. Trails provide access to the natural world for recreation, education, exploration, solitude and inspiration, and they give us a means to support good physical and mental health. Pick a trail and breathe fresh air, get your heart pumping, and escape from stress.

Individuals, clubs and organizations from around the country host a wide array of trail activities: hiking, biking, paddling, horseback riding, trail running, bird watching and more. Check out the website for an official event being held near you.

 

Heath Jones, Healthways Coach-of-the-Year and member of the Innergy team at Healthways' Seattle Well-Being Improvement Center, is “Stepping It Up” in June as he gets ready for a 40-mile hike in Yosemite over Fourth of July weekend. In preparation, Heath will be hiking by himself or with a group every week, mountain biking twice with his friend Nick, logging at least four miles on the step-mill at the gym each week, and continuing his regular strength training routine. That's Heath training in the great outdoors of the Pacific Northwest!

June 14 – National Get Outdoors Day

National Get Outdoors Day encourages healthy, active outdoor fun. Prime goals of the day are to reach first-time visitors to public lands and reconnect youth to the outdoors. Participating partners will offer opportunities for families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities.

June 19 – National Recess at Work Day

Rich DiGirolamo, founder of Recess at Work, believes that to keep people engaged, loyal and productive, you need to create a work environment that is fun. But having fun at work and being a fun place to work are two very different things. Recess at Work is an opportunity to create team spirit, engage employees, increase morale, improve health and wellness, and share your fun side with your colleagues.

June 28 – Great American Backyard Campout

The Great American Backyard Campout is a part of the National Wildlife Federation’s efforts to help inspire Americans to protect wildlife, including a three-year campaign to get 10 million kids to spend regular outdoor time in nature. Thousands of people across the nation will gather in their backyards, neighborhoods, communities and parks to take part in this annual event that provides a fun-filled evening for all generations to get outside and connect with nature.

Topics: Healthy Living Well-Being In the News Exercise Workplace Well-Being Physical Health Health Emotional Health Community Daily Challenge Healthways Events Wellness Program

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

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