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Healthy People, Healthy Business: Embedding a culture of employee health and wellbeing

Published: 25 Jan 2022
Type: Publication

It is estimated that almost 2 million women and men around the world still die due to work-related accidents or diseases every year. And the average person will spend a third of their lifetime at work. This makes the workplace a priority setting for health promotion in the 21st century. If properly managed, work can be leveraged to drive significant positive health impacts.

By fostering safe workplaces and cultures that protect and nurture the wellbeing of employees, businesses around the world and across all sectors have the potential to make a significant contribution to promoting the highest possible standards for health for all.

Healthy People, Healthy Business: Embedding a culture of employee health and wellbeing is the first cross-sectoral report for business, by business, to implement programs that ensure the highest standards of health, safety and wellbeing for employees throughout global operations and value chains. It supports businesses on their journey towards embedding a culture of employee health and wellbeing by providing insights and guidance in relation to three fundamental questions:

  1. Why is employee health and wellbeing business critical?
  2. What is the role of business in protecting and promoting employee health and wellbeing?
  3. How can business accelerate the transition to a workplace culture that fosters the highest attainable standards of wellbeing across a range of health and wellbeing dimensions?

Why is employee health and wellbeing business critical:

There are a number of factors why efforts to support employee health and wellbeing should be

seen as business critical. The new guidance identifies and explains five areas that are important for

businesses to consider as key drivers for action when it comes to scaling up efforts to promote and protect employee health and wellbeing:

  1. Talent acquisition and retention
  2. Staying ahead of an evolving regulatory environment
  3. Improved business performance
  4. Reputation and brand value
  5. Enhanced access to capital

What is the role of business in protecting and promoting employee health and wellbeing:

Business has the opportunity and responsibility to ensure that work, not only does no harm to employee health, but also nurtures it. Companies are well-positioned to improve many areas of health and wellbeing, extending from traditional occupational health and safety dimensions into physical, mental, social and financial wellbeing.

How can business accelerate the transition to a workplace culture that fosters the highest attainable standards of wellbeing across a range of health and wellbeing dimensions?

In order to fulfil their potential to realize positive health and wellbeing impacts across these varied dimensions, it is important for companies to embark upon a clearly defined process to embed a culture of health and wellbeing more centrally into the organizational make-up.

Whilst every organization’s journey may be different, the objective to move towards holistic employee health and wellbeing embedded in business strategy, should be consistent. Top-level leadership commitment, a culture of wellbeing, customized and impactful programs, and a sustainable future-looking approach should be the ultimate goal.

The report outlines a five-step process for companies to progress in their health and wellbeing journey. The steps include to:

  1. Diagnose maturity
  2. Strategize to drive change
  3. Customize the approach
  4. Implement the right levers to drive change
  5. Evaluate and communicate performance

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, although tragic, has presented businesses all over the world with an important inflection point to explore in more depth how they are interacting both negatively and positively with the health of the individuals that are the engine for their success.

Businesses that fail to grasp this opportunity run the risk of being left behind as wellbeing continues to establish itself as a critical determinant of talent attraction and retention, as well as an important and material pillar of ESG analysis and performance assessment.

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