Well-being signpostLooking forbetter ways to reduce employee health risks and lessen medicalcosts? Support from leadership and the organization is thekey factor, according to a new study from the Health EnhancementResearch Organization (HERO).

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The study, "Workplace Well-being Factors that Predict EmployeeParticipation, Health and Medical Cost Impact, and PerceivedSupport" and published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, foundthat "organizational and leadership support practices are among thestrongest and most consistent predictors of an organization'sability to: drive participation in employee well-being initiatives;influence employee perceptions about their employers; positivelyinfluence employee health outcomes; and drive down health carecosts," according to the news release.

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Related: What does it take to create targeted well-beingprograms?

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"While other factors such as incentives can effectively predictcompletion of health assessment questionnaires and biometric screenings, organizational andleadership support was the only factor that significantlyinfluenced employee health risks and positively impacted medicalcosts," said Jessica Grossmeier, the author of the HEROstudy. Based on responses from 812 organizations thatcollectively employ more than 4.7 million people, theresearchers aimed to pinpoint how specific best well-beingpractices lead to desired outcomes. 

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Grossmeier, who is also the research organization's vicepresident of research, said that of 58% of the organizations thatresponded for the study were in the service industry. The remaining42% were split between manufacturing businesses and otherindustries.

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HERO noted that previous research studies it has done haveshown a connection between workplace well-being best practices andemployee health and business outcomes, but that this newer study"is among the first to identify specific practices associated witha broader set of outcomes."

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In the news release and an accompanying scorecard chart, the research organization usedits 2020 first quarter "HERO Scorecard Benchmark database" to showthe organizational and leadership support best practices companiesuse most often. (The chart information, it said, reflected datathrough the end of 2019, which represented more recent data thanused for the study.)

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The organizational and leadership support best practices bestpractices used ranged from 95% of companies implementing workplacepolicies that encourage healthy behaviors to 75% encouragingleaders to participate in programs to 64% demonstratingorganizational commitment to employee well-being through companymission/vision statement, organizational goals and valuestatements, and senior leadership communications to 46%consistently communicating about well-being programs in targetedways to different employee groups.

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"Corporate leaders who want to improve workplace well-beingshould be prepared to practice what they preach," the releasesaid.

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According to a covering page from the research organization, thestudy conducted relied on "formal statistical analyses on the data"collected from the more than 800 organizations that had completed"the full version 4 of the US HERO Scorecard." It further said thatthe four factors used were grouped into the following categories ofemployer practices:

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• Organizational and leadership support •Incentives • Program integration • Programcomprehensiveness

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"This research is significant for employers who want to movebeyond the completion of health assessments and biometricscreenings to create a true workplace culture of health," said anemail from a press relations firm that sent out the researchorganization's study information.

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Jason Grant

Jason Grant is a staff writer covering legal stories and cases for the New York Law Journal, the National Law Journal and Law.com, and a former practicing attorney. He's written and reported previously for the New York Times, the Star-Ledger, the L.A. Times and other publications. Contact him at [email protected]. On Twitter, pls find him @JasonBarrGrant