Hawaii’s Wellness Company
Since UHA’s beginnings back in 1996, we have consistently focused our attention on the importance of employee wellness. In fact, it’s been said that UHA is “a wellness company that happens to sell great insurance,” and we have to admit that it’s a great way to describe our outlook. We’ve always been committed to a healthier, happier workforce, always looking for new ways to achieve that goal. It’s the reason we founded the Hawai‘i Health at Work Alliance (HH@WA), a collaborative group of over 375 participating organizations statewide of all sizes that are dedicated to workplace wellness. As a member organization, HH@WA provides a framework where companies across a wide range of industries can share best practices and learn from each other’s efforts to build effective wellness cultures.
What drives our commitment to wellness in the workplace? For one thing, studies have shown that an unhappy worker is less likely to be in the best of health. And unhealthy workers are not only less productive, but can have a negative impact on the productivity of their fellow employees and the company as a whole1.
The Unhappiness Factor
So when we see negative statistics like the one below, we view it as both a cause for concern and a call to action:
Fact: Nationwide, 63% of workers are unhappy in their jobs and 52% of workers are not engaged2.
Of course, there can be many root causes of employee unhappiness, and employers can’t solve all the problems that employees bring with them to the job. But recent surveys have suggested a strong link between a company culture rooted in employee well-being and important organizational outcomes such as productivity, health, and employee retention3.
So doesn’t it make sense for employers to do everything they can to foster a culture of employee well-being? We think so. But we are also aware that many current models for employee wellness programs fall short of sparking the changes needed to motivate employees toward wellness.
Exploring a New Approach
To find out more about how to close the “well-being gap,” we embarked on an initiative to explore new approaches to employee wellness motivation. One result of this initiative was the development of a new online assessment which we asked 300 Hawaii companies and organizations to complete last year. Their responses reflect the current trends, perceptions and sentiments of local employers on the health of Hawaii’s organizations.
What we discovered is that there’s a huge disconnect between understanding the role of culture in fostering employee well-being and actually doing something about it. For example:
- More than two-thirds of survey respondents report having employees—at all levels—who believe that the organization does not care about maintaining their and health well-being.
- Over half report that their employees do not understand how what they do every day directly impacts customers and stakeholders.
- Only about one-third of those surveyed strongly agree that employees at all levels genuinely feel a strong sense of connection to the organization.
- And yet, 87% of Hawaii employers report that they do not have a support system in place at all times to help them achieve their wellness goals.
Dark Clouds Gathering
Interestingly, 90% of survey respondents also reported that their organizations are consistently profitable and financially stable. And of course, this good news is reflected in the current state of Hawaii’s economy. But if you have employees who feel undervalued, underappreciated and disengaged, it’s a good bet that there are dark clouds on your business horizon.
How’s that, you say? Business is good and the economy is humming along — why should I worry about employee disengagement? Especially when I can always find replacements for employees who are underperforming and/or waiting for the right opportunity to leave?
It’s important to remember that despite an uptick in our local economy, the flipside of low unemployment is a growing scarcity of qualified employees to recruit. Add to that the fact that Hawaii currently faces a growing health crisis across numerous fronts — including record levels of obesity, pre-diabetes, an aging population, skyrocketing health care costs, etc. — and the inevitable result is that it is becoming harder than ever to replace good employees if they leave.
So if you’re in business strictly for profit and without regard for the well-being of your employees, you must recognize that this approach may bring with it real consequences and costs such as high employee turnover, absenteeism, degradation of customer service, and a toxic work environment.
The bottom line is that the cost to your organization of doing nothing about employee well-being could be greater in the long run than the cost of doing something now.
A Brighter Horizon
As mentioned above, some employers in Hawaii have recognized the imperative to engage with employees more closely in the area of health and well-being. And while there has been some success, many of their attempts at creating a program to encourage employee wellness have enjoyed little or partial success. So how do you move forward if your previous attempts at promoting employee wellness and engagement haven’t proven to be terribly effective?
Because this is an area of keen concern to us at UHA and HH@WA, we have spent a lot of time looking into the issue. The result of our research has led us to conclude that meaningful change is possible only by addressing the fundamental values and priorities within a company, organizational attributes that are best described as “company culture.” We now firmly believe that by changing company culture, you can bring positive changes to employee wellness, engagement, and attitudes — and, ultimately, make a direct impact on productivity and business success.
The Work WellSM Solutions
Transforming company culture from within is the goal of a new model for wellness that we have developed. The HH@WA Work WellSM Solutions builds upon three core pillars: “Believe – Belong – BecomeSM,” which focus on enabling change to take place at the heart of an organization’s culture. Let’s look at each of these pillars to understand how they fit into the overall approach to well-being and culture.
Believe. At the core of any successful organizational health-improvement initiative is the foundational importance of believing that you will ultimately be successful. Indeed, the “Belief Factor” is what starts the ball rolling toward organizational transformation. Without it, your culture-change plans and health improvement activities will sound good, look good and feel good, but they’ll never truly catch fire with your employees, managers and leaders.
Truth be told, Believe may very well be the most important part of the culture-change/health improvement process — and it’s the one that virtually everyone neglects.
Belong. Healthy people who work in high-performing organizations belong to like-minded groups that share and support their aspirations to be healthy. Not surprisingly, organizations that have strong social support systems in place for their people are healthier and happier than those who do not. What’s more, research reveals that high levels of personal and organizational connectedness increase performance and may even enhance longevity.
Make no mistake, belonging to a group of like-minded people makes the healthy choice the easy choice—and that’s the reason it’s the second component of our framework.
Become. Last, but certainly not least, healthier, higher-performing organizations do the right things to help their employees become all they can be. This includes helping them to discover their purpose and uncovering why they want to become healthier. It also encompasses factors like setting challenging goals, creating detailed health-improvement plans that address physical activity, healthy eating, stress reduction and becoming better consumers of healthcare.
Not satisfied with the status quo, higher-performing organizations do everything they can do to create the conditions that will allow their employees and their families to become healthier, happier and higher-performing.
Moving Toward a Healthier Culture
Through its Work WellSM Solutions, HH@WA offers three steps to help Hawaii’s employers transform their company culture into one that embraces the wellbeing of its employees:
- Assessment Tool. Before you can begin to move forward, you have to know where you stand. Guided by the Believe-Belong-BecomeSM framework discussed above, our Work Well Hawaii Assessment tool will help you better understand your organization’s current culture — and what you can do to make it more effective.
- Learning Circles. Once you’ve assessed the current state of your company culture, HH@WA offers free, highly-interactive, participatory meetings between peers, called Learning Circles, to help you begin to move toward positive change. The goal of Learning Circles is to build, share and express knowledge through a process of open dialogue and collective problem-solving around issues or opportunities — with a focus on a shared outcome.
- HH@WA. As a UHA company, the Hawai‘i Health at Work Alliance is a collaborative association of more than 375 Hawaii organizations working toward three interconnected goals: creating and improving employee wellbeing; building more successful companies; and becoming an “Employer of Choice.” Toward that end, we offer resources, advanced wellness solutions and meetings that are designed to help your well-being program be as effective as possible. HH@WA meets bi-annually for a General Meeting and the Hawai`i Wellness Leaders Conference to bring you up to date on the latest research and trends in workplace wellness.
Hawaii’s Best Do Better
According to our recent survey, the state’s top organizational performers are:
- Approximately THREE TIMES more likely to be consistently successful when it comes to recruiting and retaining great talent;
- Almost FIVE TIMES more successful in engaging employees in their jobs;
- TWICE as successful in satisfying the customers they serve; and,
- TWICE as likely to be more successful as compared to others in their own industry.
How do these over-achieving organizations get amazing results like this? It all comes back to culture. By instilling an unwavering sense of purpose, a strong sense of connection, and doing all they can to keep employees healthy and productive, these industry leaders share an ability to get the best out of their employees.
Take the First Step
Can your organization achieve results like those of Hawaii’s super-performers? The best indicators for success are an openness to new ways of doing things and a willingness to build a more supportive culture of well-being for your employees. The first step is an easy one — just sign up today to use our free Work Well Hawai‘iSM Assessment tool and learn where your company is today and where it needs to go tomorrow.