One important variable in the health and productivity equation is employee involvement, particularly with behavioral changes such as diet, exercise and smoking cessation.
"We can put all the programs in the world out there, but if employees don't know about them and appreciate the positive impact on their health, then they will be far less likely to take that first step toward improvement," says Ed Quick, a commissioner with the Certification of Disability Management Specialists Commission.
Employees have to see that health and wellness programs are good for their own well-being, he also says. "As people are living longer, there are more work and family demands placed on them, and lifestyle choices have a direct impact on their personal and financial health and fitness. They need to be active, healthy and productive."
"It all comes down to a social marketing issue," says Dee W. Edington, director of theUniversity of Michigan Health Management Research Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. "How do most people define health? In my opinion most people would say, 'the absence of disease.' We need to convince Americans that the definition of health is vitality. Then we will make a difference, and they will buy into the wellness concept."
The corporate culture, too, should reinforce wellness in the workplace to help mitigate or postpone risk factors from becoming serious health issues, and also to support employees who are healthy.
"The corporate culture and the local culture both have to support wellness," says Quick, who is also leader, employee health and productivity, for General Electric Co. in Schenectady, N.Y.
He cited GE, which is creating scorecards for local work sites to rate, for example, healthy cafeteria selections, the opportunity to encourage physical activity and on-site smoking policies. "We are not just asking employees to adopt certain behaviors," he added, "but also asking ourselves if we are supporting our message."
October 15, 2007
Copyright 2007© LRP Publications