The American Heart Association CEO Roundtable unveils new findings showcasing actions for employers to motivate healthy living

The Employee/Employer Health Connection Infographic
Employers can take important steps to build a corporate culture of health and improve employee health and well-being through program availability and CEO participation.

The workplace may be a barrier to mental health and health goals with more than a quarter of employees (28%) experiencing stress as a result of work always, almost always, or very often. This finding demonstrates that employers—and CEOs themselves—have a clear and critical role in motivating employees to focus on their health and well-being, according to a national survey released today from the American Heart Association CEO Roundtable.

The online survey, conducted by Nielsen, found that 40% of employees say they want their employer to recognize the level of stress employees are under, followed by allowing for flexibility when they work (30%) or where they work (26%) in order to reduce or manage their workplace stress. Nearly half (48%) say that their stress levels are positively affected by occasionally unplugging or disconnecting from technology.

Led by Henry Kravis, Co-CEO and Co-Chairman of KKR, Terry Lundgren, Chairman and CEO of Macy’s, Inc., and Nancy Brown, CEO of the American Heart Association (AHA), the CEO Roundtable’s 26-person membership represents some of the nation’s largest and most influential corporations and organizations. Under the scientific guidance of the AHA, the group serves as an innovative incubator for new ideas to change the dynamic of health and engagement in the workplace through evidence-based approaches.

“The objective of the CEO Roundtable is to build a culture of health and wellness in the workplace,” said Henry R. Kravis, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO of KKR. “This latest study reinforces the substantial impact health and wellness programs can have on employee engagement and the and the responsibility of the CEO to lead by example.”

“The health and wellbeing of our associates is very important to Macy’s, just as it is to them and their families,” said Terry J. Lundgren. “Our wellness programs are part of our culture, and we meet our associates where they are to offer holistic, personalized, and actionable steps to help them be and stay healthy.”

The AHA will use the survey results to continue to inform and enhance its workplace health programs backed by scientific evidence and behavior analysis available to companies across the nation. The survey results point to key actions that employers can take to improve health and well-being at their organization.

Additional highlights include:

Leadership is critical when it comes to addressing obstacles in the workplace that hinder employee health and well-being.

  • Employees who reported knowing their CEO participates in company health programs are much more likely than those who say their CEO does not participate to participate themselves, ultimately reporting better productivity (60% vs. 34%), improved work quality (56% vs. 29%), and higher job satisfaction (54% vs. 23%).
  • CEO participation is also highly related to positive perceptions about employers and personal commitment to health, with employees feeling that their employer cares a great deal or a lot (70% vs. 12%) and is committed to the health of their employees (93% vs. 55%).

Understand health priorities and variances by generation.

  • Younger Millennials (41%) are more likely than Older Millennials (23%), Gen Xers (26%), and Baby Boomers (28%) to say that getting more sleep is in their top three health and lifestyle goals.
  • Older Millennials (32%) are more likely than Gen Xers (23%), Baby Boomers (24%), and Matures1 (9%) to say they want to reduce their stress levels. This may be because Older Millennials (42%) are more likely than all other generations to experience stress as a result of work always, almost always, or very often.
  • Gen Xers and Baby Boomers (45% each) are more likely than Younger (28%) and Older (30%) Millennials to list losing weight as a goal.

Sleep is essential to well-being and productivity at work.

  • On average, employees say they are getting the close to the recommended amount of sleep2 per night at 6.7 hours, but only one in four (25%) say the quality of sleep they get is excellent or very good.
  • More than a quarter (28%) say that getting more sleep is one of their top three health and lifestyle goals.

“These results provide employers with an opportunity to meaningfully impact employee program effectiveness and ultimately the health of their employees,” said Nancy A. Brown. “The insights provide a valuable framework for our CEO Roundtable to test in our unique learning laboratory environment as we work to showcase measureable improvement in employee health and engagement.”

“The findings support some strategies that we have deployed within Nielsen,” said Mitch Barns, CEO of Nielsen and CEO Roundtable member. “We have seen measurable improvements in innovative health programming that serves the specific needs of employees. This programming, when successful builds a supportive culture that promotes health and productivity.”

Earlier this year, the CEO Roundtable and the American Heart Association launched the Workplace Health Achievement Index and recognition to provide employers with best practices using a common standard to evaluate the quality and effectiveness of workplace health programs. The Index scores and ranks companies both on best practices and employee heart health.

The American Heart Association’s CEO Roundtable membership includes the leadership of Henry Kravis, KKR; Terry Lundgren, Macy’s, Inc.; and Nancy Brown, American Heart Association; and members, Mitch Barns, Nielsen; Bruce Broussard, Humana; David Calhoun, Blackstone; Cathy Engelbert, Deloitte LLP; Eric J. Foss, Aramark; Ken Frazier, Merck; James P. Gorman, Morgan Stanley; Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson; Milton Johnson, HCA; Andrew N. Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company; Mike Mahoney, Boston Scientific; Larry Merlo, CVS Health; Brian Moynihan, Bank of America; George Paz, Express Scripts; Stefano Pessina, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc.; Virginia Rometty, IBM; Horacio Rozanski, Booz Allen Hamilton; Pietro Satriano, US Foods; Randall Stephenson, AT&T; Bernard J. Tyson, Kaiser Permanente; Al Walker, Anadarko; David West, Smucker’s; and Eric Wiseman, VF Corporation.

Methodology: The American Heart Association commissioned Nielsen to conduct an online survey within the United States from August 10 – 19, 2016 among a representative sample of 2,009 adults (aged 18 and over) employed part or full time in organizations with 25 or more employees that offer a health care plan. Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population of full or part time employees. ‘Younger Millennials’ refers to employees aged 18-26 (n=128), ‘Older Millennials’ refers to employees aged 27-35 (n=397), ‘Gen Xers’ refers to employees aged 36-50 (n=633), ‘Baby Boomers’ refers to employees aged 51-69 (n=781), and ‘Matures’ refers to employees aged 70+(n=70). Please note: The sample size for Matures is less than 100. Results for this group is directional in nature.

1 Caution small base: results should be interpreted as directional in nature.

2 The National Sleep Foundation recommends the following: 7-9 hours for Younger adults (18-25), 7-9 hours for Adults (26-64), and 7-8 hours for Older adults (65+).