How much does leadership matter in helping ensure that a well-run workplace wellness program runs well?
Plansponsor reports that “More than three-fourths of employers with workplace health wellness programs in place reported positive impacts from their wellness programs on key outcomes, including workers’ health (83.6%); performance and productivity (83.3%); and health care costs (73.6%), according to results of a report published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.”
The post continues: “Creating an environment that is conducive to health requires more than just physical modifications: social norms modification is as critically important, according to the report. A socially supportive environment includes organizational and leadership support manifested in the form of managerial accountability and alignment of the wellness program with business goals. The report notes that other studies have found managerial support and participation are notable characteristics of well-attended programs.”
The JOEM study is titled Employer and Employee Opinions About Workplace Health Promotion (Wellness) Programs: Results of the 2015 Harris Poll Nielsen Survey. It presents “findings from two nationally representative samples of employers and employees. In our analysis of the data, we provide both perspectives on wellness programs—from sponsors of these programs and recipients—and thus reveal marked discrepancies between the two groups that may have important implications for how businesses approach WHP in the future.”
Among its conclusions: “A key take-away from this research is that informed communications about the value of WHP need to be bi-directional—meaning that the views, opinions, and attitudes of both senior executives at organizations and their workers need to be regularly gathered and analyzed in order for WHP programs to be successful. As noted above, strategic communications is an essential element of successful WHP programming and gathering insights directly from workers is needed in order to maintain an open dialogue about the issues that matter to the health of individuals and organizations. Employees have distinct needs and interests, and are more likely to participate in wellness when they feel they have been instrumentally involved in the program design process. Actively seeking employee input is a critical and foundational step for improving the health of organizations and the workers they employ.”
As for the role of leadership, Plansponsor adds: “The surveys found that compared with employees working for small employers, those in large companies were significantly more likely to report that their employer provides them with resources to maintain good health (46.2% vs 38.8%). There was also agreement by employees working at small companies with the statement, ‘Our CEO and senior leaders feel it is their responsibility to take care of their employees’ health insurance needs” (37.2% of employees in small companies agreed with the statement vs 30.9% at large companies).'”