Use Employee Health As a Performance Engine

In the biology of business performance, energy and health are critical enablers of high performance and should be considered a part of any successful business strategy.

Employees are behavioral beings, and each person contributes to the success of the enterprise. Therefore, business leaders should strive to ensure connection and engagement at every level.

In 2010, Towers Watson & Co. reported that companies that are committed to health as a business imperative achieve significantly better financial outcomes and lower employee turnover. The same year Gallup Inc. found that unhealthy employees are often not engaged in their jobs, and that numerous chronic conditions existed, such as obesity and diabetes. Disengaged employees are less likely to be productive than their more engaged counterparts, and when the majority of a workforce is disengaged, business productivity and profits often suffer.

To help enable business success, healthy behaviors must flow from the bottom up and the top down. Leaders can enable this bi-directional flow by declaring and nurturing a culture of health within their organizations and establishing a paradigm where the C-suite places health and wellness first and leads by example. That might include instituting walking meetings, encouraging energy breaks and discouraging multitasking. By giving individuals permission to do these things, and leading by example, healthy behaviors will move down the proverbial staircase and ultimately travel back up as employees embrace the culture, champion the efforts and drive overall performance.

This tactic can produce results. The 2012 Towers Watson “Staying @ Work Survey Report” stated, “This year’s survey results show a strong link between highly effective health and productivity strategies and strong human capital and financial results.” Further, 66 percent of companies with highly effective health and productivity programs reported they perform better than their top competitors.

Essentially, if employees engage in healthy behaviors, they are more likely to bring their best energy and selves to their work and teams, which fuels business performance. Similarly, if an organization promotes a culture of wellness and encourages employees to adopt healthy lifestyles and work styles, it helps fuel employee performance. Then, employees can ignite the business and illustrate a successful feedback and feed-forward staircase of organizational health and positive leadership behaviors.

Success stems from creating an effective and functional biological environment where employees, teams and leadership can thrive. Taking the time to dissect the organization’s culture — from the employee to the enterprise — can enable a business to grow while supporting and improving workforce health.

Jack Groppel is vice president of applied science and performance training at Wellness & Prevention Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company. He can be reached at