Employers having successful workplace health promotion programs report that creating a “culture of health” is critical to the programs’ success.
A culture of health can be defined as a workplace that places value on and is conducive to employee health and well-being. While a healthy company culture encourages the use of company equipment, facilities, and programs to support health, a culture of health extends beyond individual programs by incorporating the value of employee health into the overall mission and purpose of the company.
Employers with successful programs have learned that isolated programs, such as putting a fitness center on campus or adding calorie labels to the cafeteria menus, will not have much impact unless they are part of an overall culture that permeates all aspects of company life.
For example, organizations like Cigna, Johnson & Johnson, and the American Hospital Association all state that a culture of health includes not only a physical environment that helps employees make healthy choices, but also considers health an integral part of the way the organization operates, thinks, and acts.
Integrating health into the way the organization operates, thinks, and acts requires sustained effort on a number of fronts. It involves leaders practicing healthy behaviors; implementing health promoting policies and practices; allocating sufficient resources for programs to be sustained over long periods; and involving all employees in building and maintaining a wellness program.
Smart managers recognize that human behavior is influenced by a combination of both individual characteristics and the entire ecological system surrounding that individual, so they take steps to address both individual and environmental factors.