Leading by example Featured

10:08am EDT December 27, 2005
Pioneering businesses agree: It is now possible to consider employee health as a performance driver, not a cost burden.

All it takes is a primary shift in focus that starts at the top.

“It’s important that top management demonstrate full commitment and be shining examples — in words and deeds — when starting to implement a company-wide health management initiative,” says Debra Dailey, director of the Health and Productivity Institute at Tri-C’s Corporate College.

Dailey says the organizational process needed to facilitate the change is not unlike Lean Six Sigma or other organizational excellence initiatives. “We help clients build a health management strategy for sustained results with goals that align with their corporate culture and business performance measures,” she says.

Building strategies involves assessing what drives health risks and excess costs, evaluating ways to intervene, instituting programming, and monitoring and measuring and results.

“We’re working with companies so they can understand that a health and productivity management strategy is something appropriate to nurture, grow, measure and manage,” Dailey says.

Why invest the time and resources?

“Progressive businesses already are profiting from initiatives designed to approach employee health as a performance driver, versus a cost burden. Health risks and subsequent costs in populations continue to grow and for enlightened organizations, there is a way to gain control through an effective risk reduction strategy,” says Neil Quinn, director of health management services for the Oswald Companies.

Area businesses and institutions have teamed up to provide solutions that will help Northeast Ohio business and industry gain a competitive advantage through strategic planning in the areas of health, wellness and productivity. Employers using this Integrated Health Management Model have experienced excellent outcomes, including health care cost trends at half the national norm.

Dailey and Quinn offer the following 10 goals for effective senior leadership in reducing health risks and decreasing health care usage.

  • Be an exceptional champion and role model in the support of personal health maintenance and a healthy work environment and culture.

  • Apply equal diligence to improving employee health and health care consumerism as is applied to other mission-critical business processes.

  • Measure and monitor the organization’s health risk and health care utilization behavior, and set specific goals for improvement.

  • Establish a five-year integrated benefits and health management strategy, and create a detailed, rolling 12-month plan for intervention.

  • Openly and frequently discuss the importance of reducing health risks, managing chronic health conditions and improving health care consumerism with employees at all opportunities.

  • Provide formal and ongoing education and training for employees in the area of health maintenance and health care utilization that is comparable in scope to that which is provided for other high-priority initiatives.

  • Implement policies and practices that support and encourage a healthy and productive work force.

  • Set expectations for leaders at all levels of the organization that they will reduce health risks and maintain good health themselves, and actively promote and encourage employees to do the same.

  • Provide resources, programs, activities and events to empower employees and their dependents to improve their health and appropriately decrease health care utilization.

  • Share and reward success by providing strong incentives for individuals, teams and the organization as a whole to improve health and appropriately reduce health care utilization.

Denise Reading is president of Corporate College. For further information on Corporate College, visit www.corporatecollege.com or call (866) 806-2677.