There are multiple determinants to health. And you do want to address as many as you can through your work site wellness program, correct?
Essentially, in the workplace setting, employee health is determined as a function of individual practices, organizational practices and the greater community in which the organization resides. In order 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 how healthy an individual is.
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 how healthy an individual is. 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 in particular.
Organization Determinants of Health
Researchers have clearly established that a person’s health is also determined by social and economic factors, as well as 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 how healthy the individual is.
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 wellbeing 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? It is for this reason that effective, successful 21st century worksite wellness programs focus just as much on organizational health, as they do individual employee health.
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 (air quality, water quality, sanitation, etc.), the social environment and the cultural environment. Included in the environment is access to healthcare and social services.
While healthy employees are good for an employer, healthy work places are good for the community. Being seen as a great place to work is good for the employer, but also 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.