Does Your Program Need Buy-in from Leadership?

Leadership teams play a vital role in the success of workplace health plans and programs. Supervisors and managers can be program champions by achieving support and commitment from other levels of the organization. This buy-in will not only help manage a program’s development, but ensure its successful implementation and sustainability for years to come.

According to a survey from the National Business Group on Health, employees' perception of leadership support and organizational commitment to health is associated with:

  • Greater participation in wellness activities
  • Improved health outcomes and greater employee engagement
  • Increased retention

“Health programs are the most effective when organizations are ideologically and practically committed to supporting them, and when their successful execution is built into the very framework of the overall mission.” - National Business Group on Health


With this in mind, we turned to this year’s Healthiest Employers® assessment data for a better understanding of how leadership is contributing to the success of employee health programs. These organizations are some of the most innovative employers in the country. Their leadership has garnered a deep understanding of their populations’ behaviors and motivations to develop plans and programs that drive engagement and sustainable outcomes year-over-year. They know that without a continued commitment to their cultural development through health programs, they’ll lose touch with their workforce.

Here are the trends in leadership and cultural commitment from this year’s Healthiest Employers (HE) applicants:


Leadership Commitment through Executive Buy-In
As we were exploring the results of this year’s HE assessment data, we found that the most successful health plans and programs were those with leaders who were actively participating.


“Supervisors and managers at all levels, are the direct links between the workers and upper management and [their involvement,] will determine if the program succeeds or fails.”- The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

The data from this year’s assessment demonstrates that leadership commitment and health plan success go hand in hand. A few common themes from 2019’s Healthiest Employers include:

  • 94.23% of leaders actively participate in their organization’s health programs
  • 93.25% of management teams allocate funding to support health and wellness initiatives
  • 86.11% of organizations’ leaders champion their wellbeing programs by prioritizing health through employee offerings


“We have seen investment from our leadership in a variety of ways. For example, when our HR leadership conducted a total value of employment survey, two years ago, they learned that team members were not only engaged in our Healthy Results program, but wanted more. Our executive leadership responded by investing in the program to expand our incentive strategies. With this additional funding, we’re now able to include all team members, regardless of whether or not they participate in the health plan. Additionally, they also increased the number of incentive dollars available to team members by 25%.” - Susie Bell, IU Health, 2019 Healthiest 100 Workplaces Winner.


Cultural Commitment: Understanding Your Workforce
When it comes to providing your members with a plan that continues to fit their unique needs, identifying and understanding when their priorities shift is key. Employees have made it clear that in order to attract and retain top talent, one-size-fits-all plans won’t cut it. And, people-focused employers are taking action through innovative benefit offerings that go beyond the physical dimension.

By taking a deeper dive into this year’s HE assessment data, it’s evident that applicants understand their teams are built upon a variety of benefit preferences. A few ways they’re keeping a pulse on their employees and the success of current initiatives include:

  • 93.15% of applicants offer their teams career development opportunities
  • 82.29% of leaders engage with their teams through career coaching and planning
  • 57.05% of organizations conduct career satisfaction surveys

Commitment and support from your organization’s leaders help ensure the success of health plans and programs. Supervisors and managers have an opportunity to directly engage and understand the most effective way to communicate with their teams. And when employees feel connected and valued by their organization, the more likely they are to invest and participate in company-wide health initiatives.

To learn more about the Healthiest Employers program, click here.