Regional Leaders Showcase How Employee Well-Being Programs Can Boost Business And Economic Growth

panelists speaking at an event.

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s “The Business Case for Community Health” gathered expert leaders to discuss ways to create a healthier region and its significance for talent and business attraction and retention. The event presented key data on well-being and considered how creating workplace well-being programs can reduce health care spending, improve employee productivity and behaviors, and decrease absenteeism.

People who thrive in all five well-being areas – purpose, social, financial, community, and physical – experience 41% less unhealthy days and are more engaged at work. Businesses who engage in employee health send a strong message to their communities.

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“Retaining employees matters,” said Jay Brown, director of corporate social responsibility and economic relations at RPM – The Driving Force in Logistics. “Keeping employees happy, healthy, and productive in their roles will prevent employers from spending money on hiring and training less frequently.”

Resiliency is another crucial element of good well-being and employee retention. Those with higher states of resiliency still feel stress, they are just better at accepting and reacting to that stress, said Cindy Bjorkquist, director of health and well-being programs for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. That’s why our goals as employers shouldn’t be to eliminate stress but help build resiliency to manage it, she said.

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Employees working in the health system have a unique challenge surrounding well-being. It’s vital for patient-care providers to make their own health a priority so they are better equipped to deliver a high level of care to others. Otherwise, the results can be harmful.

“It’s the classic airplane example,” said Beth Thayer, director of the center for health promotion and disease prevention at Henry Ford Health System. “You must first secure your own oxygen mask so that you can assist others.”

Seeing the benefits of workplace well-being programs takes patience. When measuring workplace well-being programs, employers should consider a holistic approach, including reviewing specific employee results and the financial return on investment.

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“We look at health assessments and achievement scores, of course, but we also think about preventative care, presenteeism, and lower rates of employee mistakes while on the job due to improved well-being,” said Kathy Forzely, director of the department of health and human services for Oakland County.

“There is a difference between outcomes and impacts,” said Brown. “Outcomes are how many people signed up for the wellness program. Impacts are the results you might not see for the next decade.”