Using Leadership to Increase Employee Health and Engagement

In companies of all sizes, workplace culture is highly influenced by employee perception of leadership’s values. In the last few years, more and more employers have demonstrated their support for improving employee health by increasing their investment in workplace wellness programs. Industry research shows that 91% of employers offer wellness programs for both medical cost savings and long-term business benefits that come from healthy employees.

The Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO) recently conducted a national survey of business leaders in an effort to determine the degree to which corporate leadership views employee health as related to corporate performance and productivity. Over 500 business leaders representing a variety of industries and company sizes from across the country completed the survey, providing insight into the degree to which employers feel employee health influences factors like morale, engagement, and overall corporate performance.

The results of the survey show that business leaders consider employee engagement, having the appropriate tools to perform job expectations, and—according to 20% of survey respondents—employee health as the top drivers of productivity and performance. Additionally, more than 90% said they believe health has a significant influence on workplace productivity and performance, and 41% report that health significantly influences employee engagement with their work. More research is needed, however, to examine the direct relationship between health status and work performance, as well as potential indirect associations such as workers health and levels of employee engagement.

As seen in the survey results, it is important for leadership at all levels to understand that a culture of healthy living is essential to sustained outcomes. The survey showed a disconnect between the attitudes of executive leaders and those in middle management: 97% of executive leaders reported a belief that health influences performance compared to only 85% of directors, and 87% of executive leaders confirmed their organization’s leadership was committed to improving the health of their workforce while only 71% of managers recognized this commitment.

The researchers conclude that if front-line managers and directors do not share leadership values of good health, or if the work environment does not support healthy behaviors, then companies will not realize results and long-term benefits in performance. One approach for bringing middle management on board is to align the company’s wellness program with the organization’s core business strategy. An middeling 57% of survey responders said that their companies do this well, siting that their organization’s leadership viewed health as an investment in human capital or as part of the organization’s business strategy.

Reviewing your own company’s systematic support for a healthy lifestyle culture that impacts employees at all levels is where leadership can truly start to support change from within. More than just incentive and biometric screening programs, a comprehensive plan includes developing and promoting policies, daily practices, workplace norms, and behavior-changing activities that are both accessible and appealing for employees. Specifically, this may include providing healthier options at catered meetings and events, or educating employees about the importance of sleep as the cornerstone for achieving health and wellness goals. For some companies, healthy practices may even include things like walking meetings or workplace competitions to support regular exercise, quality sleep and other healthy habits.

FusionHealth works with business leaders to provide healthy lifestyle solutions through sleep telehealth programs. As the leader in population sleep health management, FusionHealth creates measureable results that last for employees, their families, and their companies. Contact us for more information.