A recent survey
found that a strong workplace culture of health leads to happier, healthier, less-stressed employees.
There’s a strong HR imperative to improve employee health and stress thanks to links between stress and absenteeism
, disability, turnover
For employers that don’t already have a culture of health, how can HR start their organization on the right path? A key message is to know your workforce and look past assumptions about the generations in the office.
"It's important for organizations to pay special attention to the various age or generational segments of their employee population, particularly workers under age 35 who often are assumed to be healthier due to their age," said Ray Baumruk, employee research leader at Aon Hewitt. "While these employees may be the best educated and most tech-savvy generation, they also may be the most at-risk generation for future health issues."
According to the Consumer Health Mindset survey these factors are most influential in establishing a healthy culture:
Make health improvement a priority within the organization
Make sure your employees believe the workplace initiatives are aimed at improve health in general, not just about saving money. According to the report, 94% of employees in organizations with strong cultures of health say health and wellness programs are a good business investment, while only 60% of those in weak cultures agree.
Actively encourage healthy activities during the workday
Think through a day in the life of your employees and identify and remove barriers to good health choices and habits. Give employees time to attend wellness programs, incorporate walking and standing meetings or provide access to foods that are healthy and drive creative energy to support employee focus and performance.
Lead by example
The report shows the number one characteristic influencing perceptions of a weak culture of health were leaders who do not actively encourage employee health or serve as role models. To ensure employees are feeling supported in their health efforts, employers should find and celebrate employee role models and invite them to tell their stories and visibly help others. For example, companies may look for senior executives who are willing to be transparent about a health struggle or achievement or who would agree to be photographed or videotaped working out or making healthy choices in the cafeteria.
Recognize progress and results
According to the report, recognition had the fourth highest influence in driving perceptions of a strong health culture and, conversely, the lack of recognition had the second highest impact in driving perceptions of weak culture of health. Organizations should celebrate employees who have made significant health strides and think about creating health competitions with meaningful rewards to generate excitement and participation.