New initiative aims to improve employee well-being and advance health equity in the workplace

Health inequities can be detrimental to employees' emotional, psychological and physical health and place a significant economic burden on employers. To improve employee well-being and reduce health inequities nationwide, the American Heart Association-;a global force for longer, healthier lives for all-;introduces the Health Equity in the Workforce initiative in collaboration with the Deloitte Health Equity Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation.

The Health Equity in the Workforce initiative will combine insights from diverse business leaders and the latest science to develop guidance and tools to help advance health equity in the workplace. The work will include convening employers and community organizations to drive action, providing tools to measure the impact of health equity strategies and recognizing organizational achievements to incentivize change across the business landscape. By 2025, the initiative aims to enable positive health outcomes for 10 million U.S. workers, roughly 10% of the workforce who earn less than the national median income.

"The evidence is clear. Building a workplace where all employees can thrive is both a moral and business imperative," said Nancy Brown, American Heart Association chief executive officer. "The Health Equity in the Workforce initiative connects business leaders with a practical framework for tackling workforce health inequities and a network of leaders to amplify their impact."

Health equity is the state in which everyone has a fair and just opportunity to live a healthy life, a far cry from the reality that generations of Americans have experienced. Health and well-being are highly individualized experiences, with economic, environmental and social conditions-;including years of structural discrimination and systemic barriers-;contributing to disparities in health outcomes.

Research shows that addressing the drivers of health inequities can help employers improve workplace well-being, increase employee engagement and productivity, and lower health care costs. Health inequities account for roughly $320 billion in annual U.S. health care spending and counting, according to recent analysis from Deloitte.

"Addressing health inequities is everyone's responsibility, and we won't achieve a healthier or more equitable future if we accept it as solely a health care organization's responsibility to solve," said Lynne Sterrett, RN, U.S. life sciences and health care consulting leader, and managing principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP. "Initiatives like these can help employers make an exponential impact across their workforce by tailoring efforts to those who need support the most. We all stand to benefit from building a healthier workforce, including employees, their families and even the organization's bottom line."

Executives are uniquely positioned to challenge health inequities across all facets of their influence-;through their connections with employees, products and services, and the broader industry ecosystem. By giving leaders the tools and training they need to take bold, broad action, we can achieve better health within our organizations' walls, in our communities and ultimately throughout our country."

Johnny C. Taylor Jr., SHRM-SCP, President and CEO of SHRM

The American Heart Association's Health Equity in the Workforce initiative helps employers make informed decisions for the health and well-being of their employees while helping build consumer trust and positioning themselves as an employer of choice. The initiative is powered by the American Heart Association's Well-being Works Better™ platform, which helps business leaders unleash the power of a healthy, happy workforce.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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