Manage Health Costs by Improving Your Culture 3 Ways



Is your company saddled with high health costs? Of course, it is.

By improving your culture in three ways to minimize stress, your company will improve performance and long-term sustainability.

For starters, have you ever noticed stress causes illness?

While exercise, healthy eating and disease prevention are great, wellness programs are insufficient to minimize workplace stress.

stockimages employeesIn addition to wellness programs to minimize stress, what’s needed are three additional initiatives:

1. Encouragement of workplace friendliness

2. Improved loyalty programs

3. Promotion of a continuous learning attitude among employees.

Note: The three initiatives of are inter-related.

All of this starts with management – taking into account your employees personal interests and goals, and providing positive reinforcement of these ideals.

Perceptions are important. Generally speaking, employees worry about demanding work with little personal autonomy, good health insurance, job insecurity, too-long hours, and workplace fairness.

1. Workplace friendliness

There’s a link between nourishing friendships and business profitability. If employees have authentic relationships in their jobs, they look forward to coming to work.

A 2013 Gallup study, “State of the American Workplace,” concluded employee engagement stems from workplace friendships.

The Gallup report also shows a friendly workplace environment yields multiple benefits:

— Less absenteeism

— Decreased turnover

— Higher productivity

— Stronger profits

Along the way, friendliness enhances trust and teamwork. That’s why team-building exercises, social events and other initiatives work well.

Managers should be interested in the welfare of each worker and treat employees as customers. In turn, employees should be encouraged to treat each other as customers.

All of this starts with management – taking into account your employees personal interests and goals, and providing positive reinforcement of these ideals.

2. Employee loyalty

If you’re lacking loyalty from your employees, you’re suffering from employee absenteeism, workplace distrust and gossiping, poor quality in performance, and other associated issues that result in missed profits.

In general, loyalty stems from engagement – productive relationships between managers and workers.

Your employees must feel their needs are being met in fair compensation and benefits, a health workplace with good friendships and opportunities for professional growth.

You need employees to take ownership in their responsibilities. For utopia in your workplace, implement coaching, skills training and opportunities for learning.

This includes explaining to employees the concepts of how, why and what are required for success.

Managers have to be good role models in demonstrating loyalty. They need to show support of senior management. However, they also should shield their employees from undeserved angst and criticism.

Assertive employees won’t agree to blind loyalty, especially on unethical matters. So encourage an honest discussion about problems, and keep the focus on principles not personalities.

Critical thinking should be promoted along with respecting individual rights and giving credit where credit is due.

In areas of disagreement, everyone should understand it’s preferable to choose to disagree but to support policies.

Managers need to display courage by explaining the reasons for management decisions. At all times, managers must focus on the overall welfare of the company – not individual self interests.

Managers should also be in the business of encouraging accountability and accepting responsibility, maintaining company values, and protecting employees who cannot protect themselves.

The bottom-line about loyalty: Senior management’s attitudes should illustrate what is preferred in employee behavior, and reward positive performance.

From Workforce.com, here’s a sample employee loyalty acid test. My sense is that it’s best that a loyalty survey should be implemented by an outside participant.

Critical thinking should be promoted along with respecting individual rights and giving credit where credit is due.

3. Continuous learning

To avoid the afflictions in human resources troubling many companies – specifically, poor talent management and employee skill gaps – you should consider building a learning culture. A learning culture involves more just sending employees to seminars.

The signs of a continuous learning culture:

— Management support of learning objectives and programs

— Promotion of self-directed learning by employees

— Employees are mentoring others and they’re being mentored

— Use of metrics and tools for workforce development

—Succession planning

Learning programs should be an expected daily outcome – starting with the onboarding of new employees through the performance-appraisal process.

Managers should facilitate experiential talent-learning processes instead of just implementing training modules. Employees should be encouraged to think for themselves, and they should be persuaded to assess their daily performances.

Employee behaviors must match their goals. Suggest to employees that they regularly ask themselves questions such as these:

— “Will what I’m doing today lead to success?”

— “What am I learning now to help me tomorrow?”

—“How can we work together better in the future?”

These processes will lead to critical thinking for the anticipation of problems and solving of issues.

In the aggregate, the three ways will minimize stress, and your company will improve performance and long-term sustainability.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are links to related articles:

Optimize Talent Management with 5 Coaching-Culture Tips — When managers become coaches, you get a higher-performing workforce. You will have replaced mediocrity with strong performance. Here’s how to develop a coaching culture.

HR-Social Media Tips for Best Employee Morale, Culture — Social media affects your company’s culture – probably as much as the employees who engage in water cooler gossip. It’s true. Your company’s reputation is affected internally and externally by social-networking sites.

Best Practices to Evaluate Your HR Performance — To reach profit goals, leading organizations assess the performance of their human resources programs. If you want to accurately analyze the performance of your HR, at the very least you must research two areas.

Millennial Manager: Earn Respect, Get Results with 6 Tips — It can be tough to manage baby boomers. Not because they’re difficult workers. Your learning has just begun. Remember a lot of baby boomers know they have more experience than you; perhaps even in management. Maybe even in your job.

6 Tips to Get Good Employee Ideas, not Whining — Do you have employees who contribute positive ideas? Or do you have employees who always seem to whine? Aimless complaining is a symptom of problems in teamwork, morale, negativity and/or productivity. Here are six management strategies.

Employees can fake a smile, but they can’t fake their feelings.


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.





Photo courtesy of stockimages at www.freedigitalphotos.net

Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.