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How Businesses Can Optimize Well-Being in the Evolving World of Work

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As organizations of every size strive to optimize individual and organizational well-being in evolving workplace models, employers are facing greater competition for talent.

Mary Imboden, Ph.D.

Director of Research, HERO

Sara Johnson, Ph.D.

Senior Research Fellow, HERO

According to recent reports, mental health has been identified as the next global pandemic, and rates of burnout are at an all-time high. A greater focus on employee health and well-being (HWB) has the potential to attract new hires, increase retention, and positively impact business performance. It has never been more apparent, however, that offering fragmented wellness programs is an insufficient approach.

The Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) is a national non-profit that connects science and practice to demonstrate the value of a HWB employer ecosystem to ensure all employers recognize that optimizing HWB is a business imperative. A critical component of HERO’s research and recognition as a respected thought leader in workplace HWB is the HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© (HERO Scorecard).

The HERO Scorecard is a free online educational, benchmarking, and research tool that advances HERO’s goal of improving evidence-informed best practices in the workplace. Employers completing the HERO Scorecard receive an instant report with benchmarking data that allows them to compare their own HWB practices to the national average and other organizations of similar size, industry, and location. This report also provides resources to help organizations improve their HWB initiatives in six dimensions: strategic planning, organizational and culture support, programs, program integration, participation strategies, and measurement and evaluation.

Creating a culture of well-being

The newest version of the Scorecard, released in early 2021, added questions about mental and emotional well-being; diversity, equity, and inclusion; social determinants of health; and community engagement. Respondents are contributing to a rapidly expanding database that supports ongoing insight generation about evolving best practices in workplace HWB, such as recent research that found that organizational and cultural support was the most important predictor of participation, cost reduction, and perceived organizational support. In other words, it is critical to create a culture of well-being with support from leaders at all levels of the organization acting as role models for HWB.

While the HERO Scorecard offers benchmarking for small to mid-size organizations, HERO recognizes that employers of this size also face unique challenges. In February 2022, HERO launched a national survey to ensure that they offer relevant resources to enable small to mid-size organizations to optimize their HWB offerings. The most urgent needs were for guidance on:

  • Promoting mental and emotional health
  • Understanding how leaders and managers can support employee HWB
  • Applying HWB best practices
  • Controlling health risks and costs

Many strategies that can contribute to these goals (e.g., promoting autonomy, allowing flexible scheduling, fostering strong social connections, encouraging relational pauses) are equally applicable and achievable in organizations of all sizes. In addition to underscoring how helpful the HERO Scorecard can be in creating a roadmap to improve existing HWB initiatives, HERO is planning a series of educational and networking opportunities later this year that will focus on the needs of small and midsize employers. To learn more about these ongoing projects, reach out to the HERO team at

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