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In case you missed it - The Business Value of a Healthy Workforce

You don’t need to look very hard to be aware that employees have never been as stressed out and unhealthy as they are today. A simple Google search of “stressed out unhealthy employees” produced 4.2 million results in 0.23 seconds. Many workplaces are toxic and if you don’t think this is having an impact on your organization’s bottom line financial results - think again. These are some of the insights presented by Julia Graham of Towers Watson and Jason Rempel of TransCanada during our CPBI luncheon on June 17.

Julia set the stage for her presentation by reading an excerpt from Arianna Huffington’s new book Thrive. In her book, Arianna recounts waking up in a pool of blood, her eye cut and her cheekbone cracked after hitting her desk as she collapsed from exhaustion. Success had come at a cost and this was a wakeup call of epic proportions. Arianna has since implemented a culture of health that permeates every facet of the media empire she founded, The Huffington Post; and these changes are making a big impact at her organization and on its bottom line.

Backed by recent results from the Towers Watson 2013/2014 Staying@Work Survey, Julia presented a compelling case for organizations to implement effective health and productivity programs. Organizations with established programs have seen improved results including 4.7% lower voluntary turnover, 34% higher revenue per employee and 25 less sick days per 100 employees, to name a few. So what does a healthy organization look like? Julia says healthy organizations can improve productivity by focusing on employees’ physical, psychological and social well-being. Healthy organizations create an environment that engages, energizes and enables employees by providing flexible work structures, time off to recharge, supporting personal wellness and celebrating successes.

While Julia presented persuasive facts and provided a framework for implementing healthy workforce programs, Jason took us inside TransCanada and walked us through the steps he and his team have taken to develop a health strategy for their organization. Like many organizations, TransCanada is growing in size and complexity of projects. It recognizes that in order to be prepared for the challenges ahead, employees must be healthy and engaged.

Jason and his team started by building a business case for change and obtaining support from senior management. Next they reviewed the current state by taking a full inventory of existing programs, researching survey data and industry trends and conducting a SWOT analysis. While TransCanada has fairly robust health programs, they are considering expanding the current offering by adding biometric screening, health risk appraisals and weight and disease management programs. They also identified new program engagement challenges, which are common to many organizations, such as employee time constraints, field vs. office environments and generational differences.

With data collected and challenges identified, TransCanada then developed a project theme focusing on three key areas that will be critical to success: leadership, communication and measurement. As TransCanada moves into the final phase of this project the story is still unfolding. Just getting to this point has taken the TransCanada team the better part of a year but they are happy with the way the project has progressed to date. These are long term goals, so the team feels the work they put in at the front end will only improve their odds of success for the future.

- Kenneth MacDonald

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