Mary Imboden is the Director of Research at the Health Enhancement Research Organization (HERO), where she oversees the research agenda, research committees,  and the HERO Health and Well-being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer©. Mary is also the Chair and an assistant professor of the Kinesiology Department at George Fox University, where she leads the Find your Fit program, an employee health and well-being initiative. Mary obtained her doctorate in Human Bioenergetics with an emphasis in Clinical Exercise Physiology from Ball State University’s Human Performance Lab and her Master’s degree in Health and Exercise Science from Wake Forest University.

Organizational and leadership support have a significant impact on workforce health and well-being (HWB) outcomes, including program participation, health and medical cost impact, and employee perceptions of organizational support for HWB. These practices are related to the organization’s efforts to create and maintain a healthy workforce culture and include the level of leadership support in doing so1. Over the course of the pandemic, we have seen more employers than ever begin investing in and promoting well-being to help employees manage stress levels, while also trying to maintain a positive and productive work environment2. One population that experienced unique challenges during the pandemic were working parents, with working moms taking on most of these new parenting challenges. Unfortunately, this led to millions of women leaving the workforce during the pandemic and many organizations losing productive, highly successful employees3.

As a result, some organizations have started to implement strategies that seek to support parents, and mothers in particular. The HERO Health and Well-Being Best Practices Scorecard in Collaboration with Mercer© (HERO Scorecard) is an organizational assessment tool, designed to help organizations better understand health and well-being best practices and in turn help them in their own strategic planning of their health and well-being initiatives. The HERO Scorecard specifically asks about workforce practices related to supporting the working parent, including:

1. Does the company’s physical work environment support work/life balance including access to lactation rooms and/or onsite child care?

2. Does the organization address the impact of “social determinants of health” on employees’ healthcare experience through facilitating or providing access to childcare?

3. Does the organization provide childcare assistance to support individuals in managing their overall health and well-being?

Data from the HERO Scorecard Version 5 database were analyzed to determine the percentage of HERO Scorecard completers that offer these practices. Further, a separate analysis was performed to assess differences between small (<500 employees; n=62), midsize (500 to <5000 employees; n=80) and large (5000+ employees; n=55) organizations in the practices offered. The analyses included 193 respondents that completed all relevant sections of the Scorecard. Of the 193 completers, 61% responded that they support work/life balance, 30% facilitate or provide access to childcare, and 34% provide childcare assistance to support individuals in managing their overall health and well-being.

When looking at these practices by organization size, there were discrepancies between the small, midsize, and large organizations. Large organizations were more likely to respond that they supported work/life balance, facilitate or provide access to childcare, and provide childcare assistance to support individuals in managing their overall health and well-being compared to midsize and small employers.

 

Small (n=62)

Medium (n=80)

Large (n=55)

Support work/life balance (onsite childcare; lactation rooms) (Scorecard Q15)

39% 65%

80%

Provide or facilitate access to childcare (Scorecard Q16)

11%

23%

40%

Provide childcare assistance to support individuals in managing their overall HWB (Scorecard Q27)

16%

35%

51%

While organization size impacts the available resources to support employee work/life balance, every organization that demonstrates support of its employees is more likely to experience lower health risk and medical cost and happier employees. Further, when companies understand the unique needs of their employees and act to address those needs, they’re taking a giant step toward health equity.

References

1. Grossmeier J, Castle PH, Pitts JS, Saringer C, Jenkins KR, Imboden MT, Mangen DJ, Johnson SS, Noeldner SP, Mason ST. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2020. Doi: 10.1177/0890117119898613

2. 9 Future of Work Trends Post COVID-19. June 16, 2022. Gartner. https://www.gartner.com/smarterwithgartner/9-future-of-work-trends-post-covid-19

3. A rising share of working parents in the U.S. say it’s been difficult to handle child care during the pandemic. January 26, 2021. Pew Research Center. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2021/01/26/a-rising-share-of-working-parents-in-the-u-s-say-its-been-difficult-to-handle-child-care-during-the-pandemic/

©2022 Health Enhancement Research Organization 'HERO Health'

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