Employee health and organizational health are intertwined

All organizations want to create a workplace where its employees are healthy, productive and strong performers, says Stephen T. Doyle, senior director of Strategic Health Management Solutions at WorkPartners, an affiliate of UPMC Health Plan.

But what does it take for employees to meet these goals?

Smart Business spoke with Doyle about UPMC’s Health and Productivity Performance Index (HaPPI), which can help employers understand what environmental and cultural factors within the workplace support employee health and well-being, and organizational success.

What is HaPPI? How does it work?

HaPPI gives companies a sense of all the facets that contribute to the culture of health within their organization. UPMC developed HaPPI as an industry best practice measurement instrument, drawing from several validated industry assessments as well as from internal UPMC and external industry experts.

HaPPI assesses three domains: culture and environment; programs and health; and roles, responsibility and rewards. Clients receive an aggregate score as well as an analysis of their company’s strengths and weaknesses in each category. This final report compares the company’s performance to companies of similar size and industry. It also includes specific recommendations and an action plan for improvement.

Why do those three domains help determine employee health and productivity?

Culture and environment — The physical environment of the workplace greatly influences employee behavior. This category measures everything from offering healthy options in the company cafeteria and vending machines to the evaluation of the ergonomics of employee workstations. When evaluating culture, you must also include informal practices that influence behavior. For example, do morale-building activities often involve high-calorie treats? These habits and practices can unintentionally encourage unhealthy behaviors.

Programs and health — Take an assessment of the nutrition, physical activity, stress management, tobacco cessation, weight management, disease management and behavioral health programs available to employees. Also, consider how many employees participate and whether there are metrics to evaluate the health outcomes and success of these programs.

Roles, responsibilities and rewards — This category looks at an organization’s policies on everything from health benefits to disability leave to how employees are compensated for their performance. For example, giving employees paid time off, or PTO, as opposed to a bank of sick days encourages them to take care of themselves to avoid illness so they enjoy their days off. When employees know that they will only get paid at 60 percent of their salary when they go on disability (as opposed to 100 percent) they’re more likely to take steps to limit their time away from work.

The structure of medical benefits also influences employee behavior. When workers pay a portion of their medical care and gain a greater understanding of health care costs, they tend to become more motivated to stay healthy and avoid unnecessary medical services.

Other factors — Tuition reimbursement, opportunities to increase skills and being eligible for bonuses tied to performance also play a role in creating a healthy workforce. When employees feel that their employer is invested in them and that their performance makes a difference, they are likely to be healthier and more productive.

The bottom line? The health of your employees and your organization are intertwined. Becoming aware of key features that influence the health of your organization is the first step to creating a workplace that will continue to thrive in the ever-evolving marketplace.

Insights Health Care is brought to you by UPMC Health Plan