Max Orenstein / Clinton Foundation
Sep 30
September 30, 2013

Improving Employee Health


Earlier this month, we brought together representatives from leading corporations and NGOs for our first Employee Effectiveness and Well-Being Forum to discuss ways in which organizations can effectively accelerate methods to improve employee health and well-being. Clinton Health Matters Initiative CEO Ginny Ehrlich, Sanofi U.S.’s Head of Wellness Dr. Mike Sokol, and the Director of Innovation for Humana’s Employer Group Segment Kristine Mullen kicked off the morning with a panel discussion, emphasizing the importance of a healthy workforce and the link between employee well-being and greater productivity. In the United States, the cost of un-well workforce to employers of $153 billion annually, a figure set to rise to $1.201 trillion by 2023 and $5.668 trillion by 2050, is evidence of the need for companies to look at how they can enhance business practices and policies to help improve their employees’ health outcomes.

During the discussion, Ginny highlighted the work we’ve done at CHMI to build strategic partnerships across sectors in an effort to facilitate the development and scaling of solutions that promote better health. Ginny further discussed how CHMI will elevate and help scale the solutions and minimize the barriers shared by the organizations and ultimately seeks to create a collective impact, bringing together partners from across the spectrum to look at health from a broad lens and uniting them around one strategic plan.

Dr. Mike Sokol, Sanofi U.S.’s Head of Wellness, applauded CHMI’s efforts for convening this forum and advocated for a more comprehensive approach to health care. He explained that Sanofi models this by building on their efforts to develop a healthy work environment through the additions of healthy cafeterias, fitness centers, and tobacco-free environments. A strategy he says requires effective engagement with employees and providing them with the right incentives to help them take better care of their health. To ensure success, Dr. Sokol recommended that companies pay attention to measurements of their employees’ health status and clinical outcomes, as well as their correlating productivity.

Kristine Mullen, the Director of Innovation for Humana’s Employer Group Segment, also pointed out the utility of using incentives to help employees better manage their health. She detailed Humana’s decision to match employees’ contributions to their health savings accounts, a plan in which the company provides from one to four dollars – depending on the employee’s income – for every dollar an employee invests in it. This policy has since produced positive results, with workers assuming more responsibility for their health and attending the emergency room far less frequently. She also discussed the growing demand for digital and personalized methods of tracking health and wellness. Kristine argued that the incredible growth in smart phone usage opens up new channels for reaching consumers with resources to live healthier lives, and allows doctors and patients to have better lines of communication that can bridge lapses in medical treatments.

In the afternoon portion of the event, participants engaged in working sessions where they shared their solutions and best practices as well as stumbling blocks to implementing a comprehensive approach to employee wellness. Our panelists and participants agreed that it is crucial for company executives to provide support for health and wellness initiatives if they are to have healthier, happier, and more productive employees

We look forward to working with the forum’s participants and invite additional companies to join our efforts and make commitments to improving employee health and continue the dialogue as part of the 2014 Health Matters Conference in January. 

Photo: Ginny Ehrlich (right), CEO of the Clinton Health Matters Initiative leads a discussion with Dr. Michael Sokol (center), Head of Wellness at Sanofi US, and Kristine Mullen (left), Director of Innovation for Humana's Employer Group Segment on how their organizations are working to improve employee wellness at the first ever Employee Effectiveness & Well-Being Forum.