However, The MetLife Study of Global Health and Wellness, reveals there are different issues at play in different cultures, requiring tailored solutions. In the U.S., a major goal of employers is to reduce long-term health care costs, in addition to reducing employee absenteeism, increasing productivity, improving engagement and retention, and being an employer of choice. Outside the U.S., however, medical costs are lower, so employers can concentrate on the latter four objectives.
According to a press release, the study found chronic disease and lifestyle related health issues are increasing, not only in developed countries like the U.S. and the U.K., but also in emerging economies such as Mexico, China, and India, where a middle class is starting to thrive. In China and the Philippines, access to consistent health care by the overall population is a problem. Employers with global operations are trying to address these issues which have a significant impact on the health of the workforce base.To help address issues facing their employees such as chronic disease and lifestyle related health issues, employers have taken a more holistic approach to wellness and are developing policies, physical facilities and behavioral standards within the workplace that are supportive of healthy living.
For the study, MetLife Multinational Solutions and the MetLife Mature Market Institute, in coordination with the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, undertook detailed examinations at four large multinational companies - American Express, CEMEX, GlaxoSmithKline and PPG Industries - focusing on their wellness programs at sites in India, Mexico, China, the Philippines, the U.S. and the U.K.
In the press release, Rudy Bethea, vice president, Multinational Solutions, MetLife, highlights the following best practices of the participating multinational corporations as considerations for employers when implementing a successful global health and wellness program:
- Consider the Business Drivers. Think about the factors that drive an organization’s interest prior to implementing a health and wellness program. When launching a global strategy, keep in mind that business drivers are likely to vary depending on cultural and political influences. Also consider developing a program that serves as an extension of the company’s brand, mission or philosophy.
- Evaluate Progress. Outline the outcomes the company hopes to achieve. Know the health-related indicators that give the overall profile of a facility to help embed health and wellness in the culture of the organization, and track program participation from the onset. One measurement tactic might be to embed health questions that examine markers of well-being in the company’s annual survey to measure success.
- Balance Corporate Goals with Government Mandates and Cultural Expectations. It can be helpful to engage local partners as part of the implementation plan. Finding a balance between standardized processes and branding with some elements that are customized locally can be key to success, and engaging local employees in different regions may encourage greater participation. Be open to various methods of implementation depending on a location’s culture.