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Why should you engage your employees in their health?

It’s good for them, for your company and for the community. The connection between health and well-being and overall productivity and profitability is well established.[1],[2],[3] Increasingly, employers offer benefits for the whole person, recognizing how physical and mental health are connected. Employers who support employees as they cultivate good health habits reap the benefits: less absenteeism, great morale and enhanced productivity.

What can employers do to cultivate a culture of health?

Laurel and Todd Mickelson
  • Walk the walk: To engage employees, get leaders engaged. If your company encourages employees to walk more, they need to see the CEO and their managers walking, not driving, across the campus or down the block.
  • Foster peer-to-peer support: Identify the natural leaders from the C-suite, management and within the staff and nurture them as “health champions.” Who are the champions? They’re the people who others look to for guidance, who know how everything works. They’re the people with the natural ability to build enthusiasm for health and wellness among colleagues, subordinates and superiors.[4],[5],[6]
  • Communicate all year: Want to keep your employees healthy 365 days a year? Then talk to them about health all year long. A culture of health isn’t limited to open enrollment, and it can’t be solely focused on your health benefit plan design.[7] Think about your company culture overall: What can you do to keep a healthy lifestyle top-of-mind all year long?
  • Make it easy to be healthy: Healthy activities must be convenient and accessible. Keep healthy foods in vending machines. Ensure stairwells are well-lit to encourage use. Think about the foods you serve in the cafeteria, during breaks and during meetings. Identify ways to make the healthy choice the easy choice.

[1] Lerner, Debra, Benjamin Amick, et al. “Relationship of Employee-Reported Work Limitations to Work Productivity,” Medical Care. 41.5 (2003): 649-659.
[2] Coopman, Cheryl, Kenneth Pelletier, et al. “Stanford Presenteeism Scale: Health Status and Employee Productivity,” Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. 44.1 (2002): 14-20.
[3] Robertson, I., R. Cooper. “Full engagement: the integration of employee engagement and psychological well-being,” Leadership & Organization Development Journal, vol. 31, no. 4, pp. 324-336, 2010.
[4] AON Hewett Consumer Health Mindset Study 2016
[5] “Health Champions,” Human Resource Executive Online, March 7, 2014.
[6] Aldana SG, Anderson DR, Adams TB, et al. “A Review of the Knowledge Base on Healthy Worksite Culture.” Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine, Volume 54 (2012), accessed at http://www.healthworks.com.au/culture_paper_final.pdf
[7] AON Hewett Consumer Health Mindset Study 2016

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