The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.

Reflections from Visits to Three Manufacturers that Built Cultures of Health

Previously posted on http://www.jhsph.edu

By Ron Z. Goetzel/Thursday, October 1, 2015

As jobs continue to be outsourced, employers seek workers who have the skills and “know-how” to run complex manufacturing processes. They also seek workers who are “present” and engaged in their jobs, both physically and emotionally. Our visits to three manufacturing companies highlighted key elements necessary for building healthy company cultures.

First, success is hinged on a commitment by leaders to establish a healthy company culture at all levels of the organization. Senior management needs to be part of the wellness committee and not simply delegate the task to employees who lack the authority to make critical operational decisions.

Second, creating a “culture” as opposed to implementing a “program” was a message repeated throughout our visits. A central element of culture, expressed by employees, is a sense of trust between labor and management. This is experienced in the form of collaborative work groups, profit-sharing arrangements, good medical benefits, fair wages, open communications, and a safe work environment. Interwoven into that culture is the often-repeated mantra: “being healthy allows you to enjoy the fruits of your labor.”

Third, a healthy company provides plentiful resources for leading a healthy life. Whatever your personal mission in life – to be a good parent or husband, to contribute meaningfully to your community, to follow your faith or religion, to do good in the world – it can only be achieved when you are not distracted by health problems. As an old proverb reminds us, “Many people spend their health for wealth, and then try to spend their wealth for health."

Finally, successful programs abound when they directly address the strategic and operational goals of the organization in which those programs reside.  Additionally, they need to directly address and respond to the personal health improvement goals established by workers.  Having a health promotion program in and of itself cannot be the end goal; the program needs to support the company’s mission and vision in a very direct and explicit manner.  When asked why the company sponsors a workplace health promotion program, all employees, including executives and line workers, should have a ready answer – to improve the health and well-being of individual employees, and the organization that employs them. 


Written by Ron Goetzel, Truven Health Vice President Health and Productivity Research, with support by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Creating Cultures of Health in Small Manufacturing Companies

Previously posted on http://www.jhsph.edu

By Ron Z. Goetzel/Tuesday, September 29, 2015

In December 2013, my team and I traveled to companies throughout the United States to see firsthand how employers have instituted cultures of health within their organizations in order to improve the health and well-being of their workers. The conventional wisdom holds that large employers (those with many resources and large staff) can readily put workplace health promotion programs in place, but small employers, especially manufacturing companies, have a hard time doing so. It turns out that small manufacturers can, and do, have effective programs.   

If you think about it, small employers have some advantages that large businesses lack. They have fewer layers for decision-making, they can create work cultures that promote participation in workplace health promotion programs, and their leaders may be visible champions for healthy behaviors.

Our December travels took us to three manufacturing companies headquartered in the north-central region of the United States: Turck Inc., Graco Inc., and Lincoln Industries. During each site visit, we sat down with the company’s senior executives, middle managers and supervisors, program implementers, and a cross-section of workers. The reason for scheduling meetings with so many stakeholders within the organization was to make sure we weren’t just hearing the company “line” espoused by program implementers. We also wanted to hear directly the unique perspectives of the various groups most affected by these programs – employees, their bosses, and the company’s leaders who sign the checks to fund health promotion programs and are ultimately responsible for the financial outcomes for the business. We held separate meetings with each group of employees, which allowed my team to cross-reference observations made from various layers within the organization.

Each of the companies visited reflected a unique profile, but in each organization, a distinct “culture of health” had been created to fit into the overall fabric of the business. The underlying philosophy articulated by people we interviewed was that a healthy employee (defined broadly to include physical, emotional, social, financial, and spiritual health) exudes a positive attitude about work, relates better to fellow employees, has trust in company leaders, and feels valued as a partner in the enterprise. This positive attitude, in turn, contributes to the company’s overall success and bottom line.

In our next few blogs – starting with Turck Inc. – we share our observations about these three small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies, and the insights we gained from examining their programs close-up. 

Written by Ron Goetzel, Truven Health Vice President Health and Productivity Research, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


Exposing Business Leaders to the Benefits of Workplace Health Promotion Programs

By Ron Z. Goetzel/Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How do the best workplace health promotion programs create a healthy workforce and, ultimately, help the business be more competitive? What are best practices for workplace health promotion programs? Where can one find examples of successful workplace health promotion programs from both large and small employers?

These topics and more are the focus of Promoting Healthy Workplaces, a two-year research project conducted by the Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (IHPS) at Johns Hopkins University, with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The project aims to define the ingredients necessary for establishing and maintaining excellent wellness programs.

After reviewing the existing literature, the IHPS team sat down with dozens of experts and then visited nine companies that actively promote the health and well-being of their workers - Turck Inc., Graco, Lincoln Industries, USAA, Dell, Citibank, Next Jump, LL Bean and Johnson & Johnson. Each firm is unique, yet all have incorporated a culture of health into their core values, and all have corporate leaders who believe that health promotion is the right thing to do for their employees and at the same time enhance business performance.

IHPS has dedicated a portion of its website to this initiative. There, employers will find a wealth of information and a blog that offer important insights and detailed examples of successful workplace health promotion programs – the “secret sauce” for program design, implementation, and evaluation. The program is expected to serve as a valuable resource for business leaders, human resources executives, corporate medical directors, and media interested in:

  • Reading stories that highlight the unique paths each best-practice company has taken in creating a healthy company culture for employees;
  • Finding out how employers measure “success” to underscore the value-on-investment (VOI); and
  • Learning how to use incentives most effectively to sustain employee engagement in a range of health improvement initiatives

In coming months, the website will feature more company profiles, videos, news about the latest peer-reviewed research, cogent interviews with industry leaders, and expert analysis of the ever-changing health promotion landscape. 

Ron Goetzel
Vice President, Health and Productivity Research


Population Health Management: Employers' Role in Cancer Prevention and Treatment – Developing Success Metrics

By Ron Z. Goetzel/Friday, August 16, 2013

Ron Goetzel imageRecently an article titled “Employers' Role in Cancer Prevention and Treatment—Developing Success Metrics for Use by the CEO Roundtable on Cancer,” appeared in Population Health Management, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. In this article, the authors discuss how employers can play a significant role in improving efforts to prevent and treat diseases, such as cancer, by introducing and supporting health promotion programs in the workplace.



Rachel Mosher Henke image The authors describe the “5 Pillars” of the CEO Cancer Gold Standard program, the framework Johnson & Johnson created to monitor the use and effectiveness of the cancer prevention and treatment enhancement efforts it introduced, and examples of the data collected by the company.

The article is available free for a limited time on the Population Health Management website.


Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD
VP of Health & Productivity Research

Rachel Mosher Henke, PhD
Director of Research