Today 85 percent of employers have implemented wellness programs on behalf of their employees. Yet, as traditionally implemented, few believe these programs have been effective at reducing healthcare costs, driving improved health and productivity or attracting and sustaining a high performing workforce. However, there are exceptions among them — organizations that have focused on a culture of health, well-being and performance with an emphasis on helping people be at their best by creating a culture where individuals thrive and perform to their fullest potential. The focus extends beyond “health habits” to a whole-person approach that includes physical, mental, attitude, outlook, purpose, social and financial dimensions. Supporting better health is really a component of supporting a better life.

Well-being and engagement

A culture of health and well-being is directly tied to the cultivation of a highly-engaged and high-performing workforce (e.g., higher sales, higher innovation, higher loyalty). Well-being is what employees want and engagement is what employers seek, and, in fact, these are two sides of the same coin. Ironically, when our efforts are more broadly defined as a people opportunity rather than a health opportunity, HR and benefit managers engender greater leadership support which will more likely lead to the cultural changes organizations seek.

A culture of health and well-being is directly tied to the cultivation of a highly-engaged and high-performing workforce.

The business benefit for well-being, even more than social responsibility, should drive employer adoption and institutionalization of the well-being agenda. But, the programmatic and siloed approach in place by most employers will only take them so far. Supporting the well-being of the workforce goes beyond a series of programs offered and is highly influenced by the work environment, the well-being of their families and the influence of their communities. In many ways the social influences on our people are equally important to their personal habits and understandings. Supporting their roles as colleagues, caregivers and contributors to their broader communities can have a multiplier effect on improving their health, their performance and their lives.

Beyond boundaries

To bring about change, we need to go beyond traditional domestic boundaries to one that contemplates a global work force and the influence of communities and families on our people and organizations. This reboot of wellness to well-being is not just an expansion of programs — it is a journey that will fundamentally align the success and performance of our organizations, the health and well-being of our people and the sustainability and growing prosperity of our society.