Ushering in a new era of corporate accountability, a group of leading corporations and health organizations is advocating for the voluntary public reporting of workforce health metrics. The initiative of the Vitality Institute is led by a working group of representatives from more than a dozen organizations, including IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Merck, PepsiCo, Unilever and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
The group met for more than a year to discuss and debate best practices for reporting workforce health metrics. The products of their meetings, a report and two health metrics scorecards, were released in Davos, Switzerland, where business and political leaders from around the world gathered at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
“A healthy workforce is a more productive and profitable workforce, so the health of a company’s employees is extremely relevant to investors, shareholders and boards of directors,” said Derek Yach, chief health officer of Vitality and the chair of the Health Metrics Working Group. “Sadly, many companies have a better sense of the wear on their machinery than the health of their employees. It is time to give workforce health the high-profile visibility it needs.”
Evidence is mounting that workforce health is critical to the financial health of a corporation. January’s Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine contains three studies that examine the stock prices of companies with high-performing employee wellness programs. All three studies found companies with high-performing employee wellness programs outperformed the Standard and Poor’s index by 7 percent to 16 percent per year.
“We need to raise the bar through enhanced transparency, encouraging companies to manage, measure, and report on health metrics; and boards of directors, investors, and shareholders also need to start asking the right questions with respect to health,” said Erika Karp, the founder and CEO of Cornerstone Capital. Karp was not a member of the working group but is familiar with the report. “Health metrics reporting will enhance good governance as well as prospects for companies to operate profitably and sustainably over the long term.”
Yach added, “By engaging in health metrics reporting, companies benefit through improved understanding of their business models, better decision making, increased investor confidence, improved reputation, and greater stakeholder support.”
Vitality and the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) will look to work together and with major reporting bodies to obtain consensus about how to incorporate health metrics into corporate reporting. In the meantime, investors, stockholders and boards of directors are asked to encourage companies to report workforce health metrics in their annual reports, integrated reports and 10-K reports.
The Health Metrics Working Group consists of the following organizations and experts: