CSC—Computer Sciences Corporation—just announced that it had been awarded Gold Level Achievement in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) 2012 Fit-Friendly Companies Recognition program. I wanted to immediately congratulate CSC on the achievement. Then I wondered, why is this award special? Why aren’t all companies at a gold level for this kind of achievement in promoting their employees’ health?
One of the most clearly defined areas of crossover between corporate responsibility and other departments of any big business is the intersection between corporate responsibility and human resources. Employee health and wellness should be at the core of any executive leadership agenda. I have spent considerable time in my career in the presence of the CEO’s of major companies. When you ask them about what concerns them, talent is always near the top of their lists. Concern for talent needs to extend well past the recruitment and retention of competence to the availability to perform physically, emotionally and mentally.
Some companies assume that the provision of a health plan is sufficient. After all, they have dial-up numbers to promote wellness, but do their plans have programs to foster involvement and prevention? Not all do, and some H.R. departments no longer have the resources to promote in-house programs, or never did. Some companies have on-site cafeterias that are managed by food service providers but do not seem to take an interest in the health quality of the menu choices offered to employees. I remember walking around the cafeteria of a large consulting firm looking for something healthy to eat (the salads were pre-packed and full of junk calories, too). I finally bought a PowerBar from a candy bar rack and left. By the way, we had just been talking to one of the practice leaders about Affordable Healthcare Act issues. A newsflash for their executive team: Reducing the amount of cholesterol laden food served in your enormous lunchroom will lower national health care costs faster than any Congressional mandate.
I have sat through countless debates among industrial psychologists about whether employees who have higher “engagement” scores aremore “productive,” and how to measure that. Here is another shocking but intuitively acceptable hypothesis: Employees who are alive and healthy are more productive. I believe that even with a small team of researchers this can be proven pretty easily.
It is a given that corporate responsibility initiatives or human resources initiatives are complex and difficult to implement. Putting a gym in a major office center, monitoring the food served in the cafeteria, and building organized participation in community-based fitness programs such as the Fit- Friendly Campaign by AHA are not expensive or difficult to implement. They are a win for both C.R. and H.R., one that companies can put in place quickly to benefit their employees and their bottom lines.
Sick workers make fewer widgets, and dead ones, well, they won’t meet quota either.