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Promoting Healthy Workplaces by Building Cultures of Health and Applying Strategic Communications

Kent, Karen MPH; Goetzel, Ron Z. PhD; Roemer, Enid C. PhD; Prasad, Aishwarya MPH, MBBS; Freundlich, Naomi MA

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: February 2016 - Volume 58 - Issue 2 - p 114–122
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0000000000000629

Objective: The aim of the study was to identify key success elements of employer-sponsored health promotion (wellness) programs.

Methods: We conducted an updated literature review, held discussions with subject matter experts, and visited nine companies with exemplary programs to examine current best and promising practices in workplace health promotion programs.

Results: Best practices include establishing a culture of health and using strategic communications. Key elements that contribute to a culture of health are leadership commitment, social and physical environmental support, and employee involvement. Strategic communications are designed to educate, motivate, market offerings, and build trust. They are tailored and targeted, multichanneled, bidirectional, with optimum timing, frequency, and placement.

Conclusions: Increased efforts are needed to disseminate lessons learned from employers who have built cultures of health and excellent communications strategies and apply these insights more broadly in workplace settings.

Institute for Health and Productivity Studies (Ms Kent, Dr Goetzel, Dr Roemer, and Dr Prasad), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Washington, DC; Truven Health Analytics (Dr Goetzel), Bethesda, Maryland; and Freelance Writer (Ms Freundlich), New York, New York.

Address correspondence to: Ron Z. Goetzel, PhD, Senior Scientist, Director, Institute for Health and Productivity Studies, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Vice President, Consulting and Applied Research, Truven Health Analytics, 7700 Old Georgetown Road, Suite 650, Bethesda, MD 20814 (

Funding for this study was provided by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation grant #71121—Engaging the Business Community in Creating a Culture of Health.

Authors Kent, Goetzel, Roemer, Prasad, and Freundlich have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

Copyright © 2016 by the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine