Cultivating a Healthy Culture

September 24, 2012

By Susan Cisneros R.N., COHN-S –AMD Global Environmental, Health and Safety Section Manager 

[Editor's Note: This post originally appeared on AMD's Blog.]

AMD believes the health of our employees is important and over the years has provided a variety of resources to support employees in their quest for improving their health.  Today, employers devote nearly 2% of their health claim dollars to wellness programs, which have become a standard workplace benefit.[i]  But, while more employers sponsor such programs, many are increasingly frustrated by the results. According to the 15th Annual National Business Group on Health/Towers Watson Employer Survey on Purchasing Value in Health Care, nearly two-thirds of employers say employees’ poor health habits are the biggest challenge to managing health care costs. Likewise, 57% of companies cite low employee engagement as the greatest obstacle to changing unhealthy behaviors.

At AMD, we have long since promoted health education and healthy lifestyles with health education seminars, health risk assessments, health fairs, weight loss programs, exercise programs, smoking cessation programs and more.  Unfortunately, in the past AMD has also struggled with employee engagement in these programs.  So, what was the problem?  Wrong health topics?  Poor communication of events and programs?  Wrong program vehicles?  Not enough time to attend or participate?  How do you get employees to take charge of their health and make healthy choices?

These are questions the AMD Wellness Steering Committee in the US has been working on for several years.  These questions really all pointed towards creating a culture that values and acts upon personal health and wellness.  So, how did we begin?   Our first step was developing a brand so employees could easily identify any wellness program or activity offered.  AMD developed Wellness@Work to brand all our wellness activities and communications.  Second, AMD developed employee wellness committees and vendor partner committees who collaborate on wellness programs and activities because it is crucial to have employee input, feedback and involvement.  These committees work as ambassadors to help drive the desired culture change.  Third, a Wellness@Work website was created and a monthly Wellness@work e-newsletter was established.   Fourth, we implemented an annual Wellness Expo and invited wellness and health vendors to showcase and promote healthy options.  At the Wellness Expo we also hold a Know Your Numbers campaign which involves biometric testing of blood glucose, cholesterol levels, as well as measuring blood pressure and body mass index.

As we continued to work on our wellness strategy and culture, we collaborated with WebMD to help us with our wellness programs and added a variety of incentives including monetary incentives. In 2012, AMD promoted WebMD Health Manager and offered $100 for employees to complete a health risk assessment as part of our Healthy Rewards program.  A marker of our growing success is that to date, participation is at 52% of our eligible population!  In addition, over the year, employees who participate in a healthy activity such as a weight loss program, a fitness activity or challenge, smoking cessation program, a healthy pregnancy program or any of the other listed opportunities will receive points towards a chance to win prizes!

AMD’s Wellness Steering Committee understands that although incentives are helpful to attract and engage employees, it is not the sole answer.  The key is fostering a healthy culture!  We believe in cultivating a culture that promotes healthy living and leads to healthy and productive employees.