Today, the CEO Council on Health and Innovation and the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) invited U.S. companies to join them in improving the health of employees through physical activity. Called the "Building Better Health: Physical Activity Challenge", the effort is aimed at improving the health of individuals nationwide. The Challenge is part of the commitment the CEO Council made last year when it released Building Better Health: Innovative Strategies from America's Business Leaders, a report that highlighted strategies and actions to improve employee and community health, as well as health care delivery.
American companies and their employees bear about half of the nation's $2.9 trillion in total health expenditures, which comprises nearly one-fifth of all U.S. spending. The CEO Council recognizes that the health of the nation is vital to maintaining American competitiveness in the global marketplace.
"Through the Challenge we want to promote the importance of healthy living and physical activity among our employees and identify effective, sustainable, and sharable strategies that drive high levels of participation and success," said Lowell C. McAdam, CEO Council co-chair and chairman and CEO of Verizon Communications. "Mobile technologies and applications are proving to be game-changers in empowering people with the information they need to lead healthier and more active lives; given the leadership role Verizon plays in the mobile industry and enabling the Internet of Things, highlighting the use of these tools for this Challenge makes sense."
"The health benefits of physical activity are numerous and substantial," said Patrick Soon-Shiong, MD, CEO Council co-chair and chairman and CEO of the Institute for Advanced Health and NantHealth. "The Physical Activity Challenge is an influential, enjoyable, and motivational way for employees to take charge of their health and enhance their quality of life. As leaders, we must encourage and provide opportunities for everyone to become more physically active."
Employers who participate in the Physical Activity Challenge will invite their employees to enroll in a physical activity program that runs for at least eight weeks. Participating employers will also share details and results from their efforts so other companies can implement programs with proven success. Some employer programs will be evaluated by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, who will study the impact of physical activity on health and wellbeing and identify effective strategies for driving higher levels of participation and sustainable behavior change.
Physical activity has been shown to improve health, reduce stress levels, and improve productivity. Yet, according to the Towers Watson/National Business Group on Health 2013/2014 [email protected] Survey, 73 percent of surveyed U.S. employers reported lack of physical activity as an issue in their workforce. In addition, lack of employee engagement was cited by 77 percent of employers as the biggest barrier to success of health and wellness programs.
"The wellness programs that we have developed for our own employees, as well as our customers, have results that show they help improve health, increase productivity and lower health care costs," said Mark T. Bertolini, chairman and CEO of Aetna. "We look forward to working with BPC and other participating organizations to continue building an evidence base demonstrating the value of wellness programs."
"Our 'Get Active' program is helping our teammates improve their health and contributing to other valuable benefits for our employees," said Brian Moynihan, CEO of Bank of America. "The physical challenge at the heart of it is working for all of us."
"We have been investing in the health and well-being of our employees for more than 30 years, with significant return on investment both in reduced healthcare costs and more productive and engaged employees," said Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson. "As business leaders, we have the opportunity to create an environment where employees can actively engage in their health and achieve their 'best self' at work, at home, and in their communities."
"Employee health and wellness is a major priority for us," said Dominic Barton, global managing director of McKinsey & Company. "To be effective, it is incumbent upon us that our people are energetic, excited about what they do, and healthy. And, this Challenge gives us an exciting opportunity to engage our most valuable asset – our people – and encourage and support their health."
"The Bipartisan Policy Center is throwing down the gauntlet to the nonprofits across the country -- step up, take the eight-week challenge and lead by example," said Jason Grumet, founder and president of Bipartisan Policy Center.
To help employers implement the Physical Activity Challenge, Towers Watson has designed an Employer Toolkit in collaboration with the CEO Council and BPC. This Toolkit provides specifics of Challenge, the business case for physical activity, best practices, and key considerations for employers when they launch a physical activity effort.
"One of the CEO Council's goals is to contribute to the knowledge base of what does and doesn't work within employer-driven physical activity programs," said Janet Marchibroda, CEO Council executive director and BPC director of health innovation. "We expect to learn important lessons that can be replicated across the country."