Creating Healthy Organizations by Graham Lowe

Creating Healthy Organizations Graham's new book describes how to strengthen the links between people and performance.


Creating Healthy Organizations Workshop

A customized workshop to meet your organization's learning and development goals.


Author Graham Lowe on Creating Healthy Organizations

Graham Lowe talks with Canadian HR Reporter TV's Amanda Silliker about why it's important to have a healthy organization and how employers can build one.


Author Graham Lowe on Creating Healthy Organizations

View Graham's presentation at the Minding Your Workplace Symposium, May 6th, 2011, sponsored by Alberta Health Service.

News from January 2004

Average retirement age is rising
(Jan. 23 '04)
Statistics Canada's year-end labour market review for 2003 has good news about robust job creation and idenfities what could be an important future trend for older workers.
Workers need to know more about their retirement savings plans
(Jan. 23 '04)
The latest issue of Perspectives on Labour and Income, a Statistics Canada publication, reports that 4% of workers in the private sector thought they had an employer pension plan, but in fact had nothing. This amounts to 390,000 workers. Lack of accurate knowledge is much higher among immigrant workers than Canadian-born. In a trend that may not bode well for the future, access to registered (employer-sponsored) pension plans has declined over the past decade. from 45% of all employees in 1991 to 40% in 2001.
State of California recognizes business for workplace wellness initiatives
(Jan. 22 '04)
American Apparel and NutriFit, along with five other California businesses and organizations, were recognized by the California State Legislature and awarded the first California Fit Business Awards for their commitment to employee health and wellness. This award came about through the work of the California Task Force on Youth and Workplace Wellness, which sought ways to improve health, fitness and nutrition, especially among young people. While the Task Force was a response to the state's "obesity epidemic", it may have broader positive impacts in workplaces by heightening awareness and promoting actions to improve overall employee health and wellness. This is a uniqe public-private sector partnership with government taking the lead.
More evidence from Statistics Canada on stress and ill-health
(Jan. 21 '04)
The latest issue of Health Reports has an article on long-term associations between stress and health. Stress appears to be a precursor of poor health, at least in some cases. In 2000/01, the odds of having developed a number of chronic conditions were higher for people who had experienced high stress six years earlier in 1994/95, according to a new study. This is further evidence of the negative health consequences, and the costs, of stressful working conditions.
More evidence from Statistics Canada on stress and ill-health
(Jan. 21 '04)
The latest issue of Health Reports - has an article on long-term associations between stress and health. Stress appears to be a precursor of poor health, at least in some cases. In 2000/01, the odds of having developed a number of chronic conditions were higher for people who had experienced high stress six years earlier in 1994/95, according to a new study. This is further evidence of the negative health consequences, and the costs, of stressful working conditions.
More Britons 'downshift' to escape job pressures
(Jan. 15 '04)
An article in the Jan 12, 2004, Christian Science Monitor reports that long work hours and intense job demands are prompting more UK workers to 'downshift' -- opting out of high-paid, high-pressure careers for a simpler and lower stress life. According to Datamonitor, a business information and research company, 200,000 British workers and their families will "downshift" in 2004, bringing the total to around 3 million. This suggests siginficant dissatisfaction with job and career conditions. Compared to the rest of Europe, Britons put in the longest work hours and Britain was the only country to opt out of the European Union's work time rules that cap weekly work hours at 48.
More evidence of the erosion of employee trust
(Jan. 15 '04)
US human resource consulting firm, Towers Perrin, reports that its survey results of 1000 US employees shows that many do not trust corporate communications. Less than half of those surveyed considered communications about the business to be credible, and employees generally believe companies are more honest with shareholders than with employees. Other research by TP suggests that overall employee trust is declining in corporate America.
Employers join battle against obesity
(Jan. 15 '04)
From the Cinncinatti Enquirer, Monday, December 29, 2003 By Chris Wadsworth Gannett News Service Joyce Reynolds has waged a seesaw battle with her weight her entire life. "I've gone through bouts of depression," said Reynolds, 47. "Even though you think you've reached a spot where you're happy, you're really not. It's like you fool yourself." Her employer, the Lee County (Fla.) Electric Cooperative, is trying to help. It recently started offering Weight Watchers classes in the office. Some of the 30-plus participants got a break on the usual enrollment fee. Others are spreading out the payments through payroll deductions. Five weeks into the program, Reynolds has lost 6 pounds and has seen her blood pressure drop from 160/100 to 130/80. More and more, companies are searching for similar success. They're looking for ways to encourage better health among their employees - out of good will and because it's smart business. Wellness Councils of America, a nonprofit organization that promotes workplace wellness programs, reports health care expenses are the single biggest portion of the U.S. economy - $1.4 trillion spent in 2002. Of that amount, companies and corporations picked up $444 billion of the tab. The future doesn't look any better with health care costs expected to pass the $2 trillion mark by 2007, industry figures report. That has left employers in a quandary. How do they persuade workers to get healthy, not only for themselves but for the company's bottom line? "I think you're seeing American businesses at the crossroads," said David Hunnicutt, president of Welcoa, based in Omaha, Neb. He says surveys show 88 percent of U.S. businesses now offer some sort of health or fitness promotion. However, most are merely a poster hanging in a lunchroom or a brochure included with a paycheck. When you look at the number of workplaces that offer real, organized health and fitness programs on the job, it plummets to just 10 percent of U.S. companies.
Study Tallies High Costs of Health-Related Lost Work Productivity
(Jan. 13 '04)
Employee health problems cost U.S. employers $226 billion per year, according to a study. Employee health problems cost U.S. employers $226 billion per year, with about 70 percent of the losses resulting from reduced productivity rather than work absences, reports a study in the December Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, official publication of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM). Led by Walter F. Stewart, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the AdvancePCS Center for Work and Health, Hunt Valley, Md., the researchers surveyed a nationally representative sample of approximately 29,000 U.S. workers. Lost productivity time (LPT) for personal and family health reasons was measured in hours and dollars, and contributing factors were assessed. Nationwide costs related to LPT for 2002 were estimated at $226 billion, averaging approximately $1,700 per worker. The average employee lost two hours of productive work time per week. Overall, 71 percent of LPT costs were attributed to reduced performance at work, whereas just 23 percent resulted from work absences. The remaining six percent of LPT costs resulted from absences for family health reasons. For female workers, LPT for personal health reasons was 30 percent higher than for men. Employees who smoked at least a pack of cigarettes per day had productivity losses twice as high as those of nonsmokers. Productivity losses also varied by job characteristics. Workers in "high demand, low control" occupations—which have been linked to high levels of job stress—had lower health-related LPT than those in "low demand, high control" jobs. The authors suspect that this is because workers with more control over their jobs can more easily adjust their work pace to how they are feeling that day. Workers earning over $50,000 per year accounted for 17 percent of LPT hours, but 34 percent of the resulting costs. Many studies have looked at the costs of health-related absences from work. However, relatively little is known about the costs of reduced productivity related to health problems. Such losses occur when workers who are not feeling well go to work but have reduced job performance, such as difficulty concentrating, working more slowly, or feeling fatigued. Though less tangible, these losses related to reduced productivity have a greater monetary impact than health-related absences, the new results suggest. "Health-related LPT costs are substantial but largely invisible to employers," Dr. Stewart and coauthors conclude. Data on worker and job characteristics will help companies to estimate their health-related LPT costs and to retarget their health care dollars to more effectively address workers' needs. Because of the increased productivity losses for smokers, greater investment in smoking-cessation programs is a promising approach for employers to reduce their LPT costs. ACOEM, an international society of 6,000 occupational physicians and other healthcare professionals, provides leadership to promote optimal health and safety of workers, workplaces, and environments.
10 great companies to work for in Europe
(Jan. 12 '04)
See Milton Moskowitz and Robert Levering's article, in the 26 January issue of Fortune magazine, on great places to work in Europe. The authors write: "Through ten companies in ten countries, one theme ran like a strong thread in our effort to find great European workplaces: Employees like working for a company with a distinctive culture and a clear social mission—whether it's creating life-saving drugs at Novartis or selling well-designed, low-cost goods at Ikea." "To come up with this year's candidates we canvassed a wide variety of sources. After winnowing our initial list of 65 companies, we spent at least one full day at each of them interviewing employees. Our tape-recorded conversations offer a rich lode of evidence about how valuable it is for companies to have employees who look forward to coming to work every day and appreciate the opportunities they have to make a contribution to a healthier society."