IBM – 2014 Multinational Employer Winners

International Business Machines – Commit to Health
28th July 2014

IBM is a multinational technology and innovation company with over 400,000 employees across approximately 100 countries. Addressing the health needs of such a dispersed, diverse population relies on a steadfast commitment from senior leadership and a strategic, integrated approach.

The specific goal of health promotion at IBM is to reduce health risk and build vitality among employees and their families, in order to enhance well-being, enable high performance, and mitigate avoidable health-related costs. IBM has embraced the WHO’s Healthy Workplace guidelines, to help refine company health priorities and objectives.

IBM’s “Commit to Health” approach begins with long-standing corporate support with an integrated strategy which reflects a shared commitment and responsibility for health between both the company and employees. All IBMers are encouraged to commit to healthy living and vitality building, engagement with regular preventive care, and active involvement in healthcare decisions. In turn, IBM commits to helping employees succeed by making the healthiest choice the easiest choice, by putting the required resources directly in their hands. This is brought to life through IBM’s online Commit to Health Community, using its internal social connections and collaboration hub. Thousands of employees around the world visit and interact in the online community, sharing ideas and reviewing timely health education.

Employees are proactively and meaningfully involved during various steps of the program development process.

Examples include:

• Focus groups to test new program concepts, such as a new Children’s Health program to assist parents in addressing healthy behaviors at home.
• Beta testing of new tools to improve user experience, such as the testing of a new web-based tool designed to encourage Mindfulness and Resilience.
• Piloting of new programs before full implementation, such as training for HR professionals and managers on Mental Well-being Support.

Recently, IBM has leveraged innovative social analytics technology to capture “Mini Pulse” feedback from employees as they interact with health programs. This real-time, practical input is invaluable when serving such a large, dispersed population such as IBM’s.

In order to provide structure in program design and delivery, IBM established 10 Global Priorities for Health Promotion which include: Health Assessment, Active Living, Healthy Eating, Sleep & Rest, Mental & Emotional Well-being, Preventing Tobacco, Alcohol, & Drug Abuse, Injury & Violence Free Living, Infection Prevention, Clinical Prevention and Engagement Strategies. These priority areas are addressed through common global processes and systems, an integrated network of health professionals, and a combination of cross-border and local initiatives. Since the relative importance of each topic area varies around the world, particularly between major market and growth market countries, the model allows for additional flexibility and prioritization at the local level.

Specific targets across the framework are driven by IBM’s formal Well-being Management System, which provides the means for integrated planning, alignment to corporate objectives, and effective monitoring of progress. Annual improvement plans, periodic reporting, and formal audits provide the processes to enable efficiency and progress. Creating a network of cross-border support and collaboration has helped to maximize internal subject matter expertise and program efficiencies around the world.

Several key global initiatives demonstrate IBM’s continued innovation. A new Global health Risk Assessment tool has been acculturated and adapted for use in 130 countries and is available to employees in 26 languages. In the United States, typically 60% of IBM employees complete the HRA, and initial launches in the United Kingdom and India have already reached 20% and 10% respectively, through use of lotteries to win wellness-related products. IBM’s global Virtual Health Fair event represents an exciting new approach to delivering health and safety education in a 24-hour live online event featuring Integrated Health Services experts and IBMer interaction. The fair featured 12 webcasts on topics ranging from Sleep to Stress and Travel Health. Roughly 10,000 employees visited the first Virtual Health Fair, with 13,000 webcast views and 19,000 resource downloads in 8 different languages. IBM also embarked to create a new program model called, Wellness Advisor which aims to bring together EAP, medical support and Wellness coaching services to improves access and support as well as create a less stigmatized entry point for EAP services.

Specific targets are set related to integration across all 4 Pillars of Integrated Health Services (Safety, Medical, Health Benefits, and Health Promotion). Also, considerable cross-functional development has been done to integrate Health Promotion efforts into the Health Benefits design and delivery processes. Outside of the Integrated Health Services department, projects are also underway to more deeply integrate with other HR functions, such as Work/Life and Workforce Analytics. All such cross-functional integrations not only increase the impact of Health Promotion efforts, but also support sustainability.

IBM was recently recognized as one of the three best workplaces supporting employee health in the world at the Global Healthy Workplace Award Summit in Shanghai April, 2014. IBM has also contributed to industry research on workplace health promotion, publishing various peer-reviewed manuscripts on the impact of programs on healthy behaviors and business costs.

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