Supportive leadership drives successful well-being programs, says new study


Dive Brief:
When leadership is supportive of and involved in workers’ well-being, health and wellness programs are more successful, according to a new report from the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) and Mercer. The 2018 Progress Report for the HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer measured well-being programs’ performance practices, such as population health risk, participation rates and medical plan costs in a series of studies involving 1,000 employers.
Per the report, the practice most associated with higher participation rates was leadership’s presence and recognition of employees who have achieved success in well-being programs; when leaders recognized employees’ healthy actions and outcomes, there was more improvement in population health (91%) and medical plan cost (87%) than in companies that didn’t recognize employees’ success. Organizations whose leaders actively participated in health and well-being programs reported higher rates of employee satisfaction with health and well-being programs (83%) and employee perception of organizational support (85%) than organizations whose leaders didn’t actively participate.
The study also showed that when organizations offered financial incentives, employees were more satisfied with their health and well-being programs. More than half of the respondents (56%) had a formal, written strategic plan for well-being and report better outcomes on medical trends and health improvement than organizations that lack such plans.

Dive Insight:
The employee-driven labor market has pressured employers to amp up their health and well-being programs, according to a study released in August by Wellable, a firm specializing in employee wellness. Record-low unemployment and the competition for talent have forced employers to come up with benefits that will attract and retain workers. That’s good news for employees, but, as the HERO/Mercer study found, leadership’s involvement is key to a program’s outcomes and employees’ participation and satisfaction. This is true for most workplace initiatives.

Many employers think their well-being programs are working, according to a study released earlier this year, but some workers disagree; employees said that they were more likely to participate if incentives were offered. The HERO/Mercer study points out that financial incentives raised employee satisfaction with health and well-being programs, something that employers might need to consider in the current labor market.

In a 2017 survey, 82% of workers said they expected employers to offer health and well-being plans, but said that what employers were offering didn’t meet their needs. Involvement in such initiatives may enable leaders to know how and why certain programs fail to meet expectations and needs. HR can come up with low-cost incentives to produce better outcomes for health and well-being programs. Demonstrating positive, data-driven results could be a motivating force that makes leadership more supportive of and involved in these initiatives.


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