The Global Update is back after a summer break! I am now back in Arizona enjoying the heat (or is it enduring) and getting ready for an exciting fall. For example, I will be leading a group of Mongolian professionals on a study tour of successful workplace health promotion (WHP) programs in the Northeastern US (more on WHP in Mongolia soon).
How To Grow a Global Program
Today I would like to introduce the key findings of a benchmarking study on global approaches to WHP I recently conducted with Buck Consultants. The study should be especially interesting to multi-national employers as it specifically focuses on global strategies with the prevailing challenges and how the study partcipants overcome these.
No doubt can a growing interest in workplace health promotion globally be observed as well as a growing number of international companies adopting global approaches. However, few employers have successfully developed and implemented strategies on a broad, global basis. This new study supports and extends the findings of the Annual Global Survey on Health Promotion and Workplace Wellness Strategies and surfaces insights and successful practices from organizations that have made progress at globalizing their health promotion initiatives. Interviews (written and telephonic) were conducted with 13 leading global employers. All of the participating employers have implemented global strategies and been offering programs to their employees worldwide for a number of years.
The findings can be summarized by the following eight recommendations, based on successful strategies of the participating organizations:
- Adequate time and effort should be spent explaining to employees the reasons, goals and benefits for providing a health promotion program. Employers should recognize that not every employee accepts the notion that their employer should provide such programs, especially in some countries where it is a new concept.
- A global strategy should be driven by a central or corporate function that provides guidance and technical support to local sites and business units.
- Local resources should be engaged for cultural adaptation and implementation. Local health professionals should also be utilized to help drive strategies regionally and function as a link between corporate and local sites and business units.
- All sites should be provided access to a core level of health promotion programs and policies.
- In order to improve mental health and well-being of employees – one of the biggest health promotion challenges of the 21st century – employers must analyze and address the psychosocial working environment as well as work organization.
- A shared global value proposition should be established, in alignment with key business goals. Metrics should be globally consistent and locally relevant.
- The value proposition for health promotion should not solely be justified on a financial business case, especially outside the U.S. Equal emphasis should be placed on health and well-being factors.
- Employers should establish a healthy workplace index and/or menu of services, toward which all sites should strive, and eventually be held accountable for.