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Get Ahead in Business through a Culture of Health

Share prices of companies that prioritize culture of health outperform the S&P average.

Did you know we are all into the health and well-being business? But I don’t work for a hospital, a pharmaceutical or other healthcare company, you say. In fact, you do. We all do. “The workplace is killing people and nobody cares”, states Jeffrey Pfeffer a professor of organizational behavior at Stanford Graduate School of Business. In his new book he examines the massive health care toll today’s work culture exacts on employees. The book has the ghastly, but self-explanatory title “Dying for a Paycheck”.

We are harming both company performance and individual well-being, and this needs to be the clarion call for us to stop. There is too much damage being done.”, explains the author.

According to Pfeffer there is a large amount of data that suggests the biggest source of stress is the workplace. It is the source of stress, stress causes chronic disease, and chronic disease is the biggest component of the ongoing and enormous health care costs of developing countries. Combine that with the fact that the notorious millennial generation refuses to take a standard office job, affecting the abilities of companies to find qualified personnel. According to a 2014 report by the Intelligence Group, 72% of the millennials want to be their own boss one day. Being your own boss defines freedom, determines a certain lifestyle, making choices for yourself and shows a meaning of independence. Could that be the result of millennials witnessing the harmful effects of work on their parents health, family life and overall well-being?

According to a brand new course, developed by an impressive number of Harvard University faculty, improving health and well-being is the new imperative for business. And it is the task of the C-Suite level managers to realize that this is an urgent problem requiring prompt reaction. Why is it important? Because in that lies the very sustainability of the businesses they run. Amy Edmondson, Professor of Leadership and Management at the Harvard Business School:

If the communities from which you draw your workers are less healthy, have less adequate housing and schools, and a less healthy environment, for example, that affects your bottom line. If the products and services you sell have an adverse impact on people's health, that'll affect your image and your reputation. On the other hand, we have growing evidence from around the nation and the world that business leaders who care about health can turn that into a positive business strategy. For example, research demonstrates that high sustainability companies significantly outperform their business competitors over the long-term

She concludes that poor health among workers leads to lower productivity on the job. At the same time share prices of companies that prioritized health outperform the S&P average on all tests.

All business are in the business of health and businesses can thrive by adopting a Culture of Health in 4 main pillars: consumer health, employee health, community health and environmental health. The model, presented in the course “Improving your business Through a Culture of Health” is adopted from the book “Building a culture of health. A new imperative for business” by prof. John A. Quelch and prof. Emily C. Boudreau. Prof. Quelch himself presents in the course the idea behind:

  • Consumer health refers to “healthfulness and safety of the products and services the business sells”

  • Employees health is addressed “through the businesses efforts to ensure the safety, health, and well-being of its employees, including the workers in its supply chain”

  • The community health is reflected in the “business' investments to improve the health, safety, and living standards of those who live in the communities, where it does business”.

  • And last, but not least the impact of the business operations on the environment are considered as environmental health.

A company, adopting a culture of health, has the instruments to succeed and thrive in the foreseeable future. What would you do, C-Suiters? It’s your call.


Disclaimer: The C-Suite Minimalists is not a spokesperson, nor receives any direct benefit of promoting the culture of health or the Harvard University course on Improving Your Business Through a Culture of Health. As we offer research based practical insights for C-Suite level managers and entrepreneurs, this idea for culture of health is in line with our mission to share simple tools for maximizing organizational value, improving efficiency, increasing employee engagement and reducing stress in the long run. We, at the C-Suite Minimalists, have signed for the course for free. And so could you at the edX platform of Harvard and MIT.

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