Working Well: 2014 Year in Review

In recent years, Working Well has had tremendous success in the effort to expand from a hospital-based initiative to a statewide approach to improving population health through a focus on healthy workplaces. In 2014, Working Well was named an evidence-based worksite intervention strategy in the new South Carolina Obesity Action Plan. With support from The Duke Endowment, 16 state cabinet agencies, the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and the Governor’s Office joined the Working Well cohort. Combined with existing hospital and business participation, a total of 101 organizations participated in the initiative in 2014.

Senior leaders from 99 South Carolina organizations have put their commitment to wellness into writing and signed on to Working Well. Collectively, these organizations employ over 140,000 South Carolinians. Ninety six South Carolina organizations have completed a baseline assessment using WorkHealthy America, an evidence-based online assessment and implementation support tool. Fifty organizations reassessed in 2014 after making changes to their policies, environments, and benefits. Of those who reassessed in 2014, 48 (96%) have improved at least one letter grade or maintained an original A grade in one or more wellness areas; 49 have improved their grade in nutrition or maintained a baseline grade of A, and 43 organizations have improved their grade or sustained the highest grade in physical activity.

A subset of questions from the WorkHealthy America assessment are publicly reported through the Wellness Quality Scorecard to demonstrate how workplaces across the United States perform on key measures related to implementing evidence-based policies, environments, and benefits. Among the 20 Wellness Quality Scorecard questions, South Carolina is doing better than the national average for 10 indicators related to nutrition, physical activity, tobacco cessation, and creating a culture of wellness.

Working Well organizations have made significant improvements to strengthen existing employee wellness programs by implementing lasting policies, establishing human and financial capacity for wellness, and evaluating programs – making wellness a new norm for their workplace. Areas of greatest improvement have included adding employee wellness in the organization’s strategic plan, surveying employees about their health and wellness interests, having clearly stated organizational wellness goals, and measuring the impact of wellness initiatives on employee productivity. Remaining challenges include committing increased levels of staff and budget support and implementing comprehensive evaluation efforts. Ten South Carolina organizations have achieved the WorkHealthy America Excellence Recognition for achieving the highest standards in workplace health. These organizations have aligned efforts to implement a culture of wellness with top grades in the three other Working Well pillars. They have also served as models and mentors for other participating organizations.

Working Well organizations have always shown the strongest grades within the tobacco pillar. Twenty-five SC organizations have been recognized for achieving the highest standards in this area. An increasing number of SC organizations are offering FDA-approved tobacco cessation medications and actively communicating tobacco cessation benefits available to employees. Organizations participating in Working Well have shown significant improvements in identifying all tobacco users, counseling them to quit, and periodically following-up with tobacco users to support quit attempts, though there remain many opportunities to implement comprehensive quit tobacco systems. Also, regularly evaluating tobacco cessation programs continues to be a challenge for many organizations participating in Working Well.

Organizations participating in Working Well have made many improvements that support employee nutrition, and 18 SC organizations have met the highest standard in providing a healthy food environment for their employees in 2014. Using pricing to promote healthy foods and beverages has been an exciting change in many workplaces. Many SC organizations are now providing healthy food and beverages at all catered events and offering nutrition counseling as a benefit for all employees. Yet, even places that have implemented pricing and marketing to encourage healthy eating need to ensure access to healthy foods through a policy and/or contracts with vendors.

Addressing physical inactivity in the workplace has been a new undertaking for many SC organizations. Working Well organizations have made changes to support physically active employees through policy, environment and benefits. Twelve SC organizations have now achieved the highest standard in this area. Though still not commonplace, Working Well organizations have led the nation in implementing policies that provide employees with paid time for physical activity and actively communicating such policies. The provision of physical activity facilities, bike racks, showers, changing facilities and peer support to encourage physical activity is a big area of strength. There remain opportunities to encourage active commutes to work, to use point-of-decision prompts to encourage physical activity, and to evaluate physical activity policies for outcomes.

In 2014, the Working Well team made 46 visits to our hospitals, state agencies, and businesses across the state of SC to provide consultation, tailored technical assistance, and recognition. Staff from Working Well organizations participated in in-person and web-based training events, provided by the SC Hospital Association and Prevention Partners, to better understand Working Well and how they can impact population health the state. In 2014, Working Well helped the state lead by example by engaging 18 state agencies in the initiative. 2015 will bring continued opportunities to broaden the funding base to allow a greater number of organizations to participate in the initiative, particularly in those counties identified as target areas in the SC Obesity Action Plan, SCale Down. For a copy of the complete 2014 Working Well Executive Summary, click here.


01-27-2015 10:52 (EST)