Essentially, in the workplace setting, employee health is determined by individual practices, organizational practices, and the greater community in which the organization resides. To approach employee health holistically then, the workplace wellness program must address these three levels.
Individual Health Determinants
Researchers estimate that the individual determinants of health account for up to an estimated 40% of how healthy an individual is. At the individual level, biology, genetics, age, and gender all impact individual health. Researchers estimate that these physiological determinants of health account for approximately 10% of an individual’s health.
Researchers have also found that an individual’s experiences in childhood impact how healthy they are in adulthood. Experiencing trauma in childhood adversely influences how healthy they are in adulthood.
Individual lifestyle factors, personal health practices, and coping skills also play a significant role in an individual’s health. Researchers estimate that these could account for up to 40% of how healthy an individual is.
The traditional approach to worksite wellness has typically focused on individual health and lifestyle factors and personal health practices.
Organization Determinants of Health
Researchers have clearly established that a person’s health is also determined by social and economic factors and individual factors. These are commonly classified as the social determinants of health. Research has estimated that the social determinants of health account for between 15 – 40% of the individual’s health.
Management practices in the workplace contribute significantly to employee health and wellbeing. Management practices can either contribute to or detract from employee health and wellbeing.
The work environment clearly influences and impacts the health and psychosocial well-being of employees. There is extensive evidence on the connection between the workplace and employee health and wellbeing. Many workplace conditions profoundly influence employee behavior, health, and wellbeing.
If the workplace is unhealthy, why would we ever expect employees to be healthy? For this, effective, successful 21st-century worksite wellness programs focus just as much on organizational health as they do individual employee health.
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Community Determinants of Health
Employees and employers do not exist in isolation. Both are influenced by the community in which they live, work, play, and operate. Typical community determinants of health include the physical environment (, water quality, sanitation, etc.), the social environment, and the cultural environment. Included in the environment is access to services.
While healthy employees are good for an employer, healthy workplaces are good for the community. Being seen as a great place to work is good for the employer and good for the community. The more great places to work there are in the community, the healthier the community will be.
Through corporate social responsibility-type initiatives, employers are also contributing to the health of the community.
Worksite wellness in the 21st century is more than just a focus on the health status of employees. Worksite wellness encompasses programming and interventions at the organizational and community levels as well.
Success Plus Value
Employee health, wellness, and well-being programs can deliver considerable value to an employer with their multi-dimensional focus. I invite you to let me help you create your own effective, successful, and sustainable program. I specialize in mentoring worksite program coordinators and creating Done with You worksite employee health and well-being programs. You can contact me .
This article is brought to you by Bill McPeck, Your Worksite Wellness Mentor. I am dedicated to helping employers, and worksite program coordinators create successful, sustainable employee health and well-being programs, especially in both large and small employer settings.