Does Workplace Culture Really Impact Employee Health?
When looking for the answer to improving employee well-being and controlling health care costs, we often are asking the wrong questions. Conversations about who the best vendor partners are, the latest and greatest in technology, or hottest trends typically fill up meeting times and lead to discussions around pricing, engagement goals, and how to communicate the programs to employees. While these are important topics and can be instrumental in a well-rounded population health management strategy, challenge yourselves, vendor partners, clients and consultants to re-think these conversations and go back to what we have known for many years: Culture is key. There are no solutions, programs, or vendor partners that can turn around the well-being of an organization if the environment and culture is not supportive of those initiatives.
While some may see this challenge from a glass half-empty viewpoint, but it is really the opposite. The fact that an organization’s culture has the potential to have the biggest, positive impact on an employee’s well-being, is one of the most exciting and energizing pieces of the wellness puzzle. It means that with a little leg work, a company can become a more energetic place to work, productivity can improve, and employee’s lives (and potentially their families lives) can be enhanced.
While a full-blown culture assessment and plan of attack take time and a partner who is knowledgeable and willing to assist you, there are some things that you can address right now to get you started. The goal is intentionally designing a culture that includes the following fundamentals and programming that support health and well-being:
- Involve leaders at all levels
- Invest in the appropriate resources (both money and people)
- Communicate via multiple channels
- Meet employees where they are/address multiple components of health
- Create a supportive environment
- Implement supportive policies
- Keep it simple
- Integrate and align with other company initiatives
- Look beyond physical health
- Look outside the well-being programs at areas that have an impact on employee health:
- Training programs
- Job duties
- Company policies
- Remove barriers to well-being
- Create a plan
- Measure and share your successes
- Evolve with employee’s needs
- Empower your employees with knowledge and tools
- Create a shared vision and mission that aligns with the company’s overall goals
- Connect with the community (internal and external)
Look for the “low-hanging fruit” around the office: Are there candy bowls around the office? Are you catering healthy options for company events? Do employees feel empowered and able to participate in wellness programming? Do you have policies that support employee well-being and are stairwells accessible and maintained so they are attractive to employees? What about your benefits program? Do your medical and ancillary benefits support and encourage employees and their families to seek the best quality care? Do employees have access to advocates that can help reduce the stress of dealing with a chronic condition or unexpected diagnosis? These are just a few of the countless areas where the workplace has an impact on employee well-being. It’s up to us to decide whether that impact is positive or negative.
When a culture of health is achieved, employees believe they are supported in achieving their health and wellness goals. Executive leadership, down to managers and supervisors, are active ambassadors of the health culture. The culture of health becomes who your organization is, rather than what you do. There is no question that this will lead to a positive impact on employee health and wellness.
Our team at Northwestern Benefit would love to discuss the current state of your culture and create a road map to assess and enhance where you are to more positively impact your employees’ well-being.
Please contact Mary Pozatek for more information on a health program that suits the needs of your organization and employees.