Strengthening Workplace Health, One Resource at a Time

Multigenerations in workplace

Use CDC Workplace Health Resource Center to help employees improve their health.

Isabel Kurita of the Boise School District in Idaho promotes healthy lifestyles among employees to lower risks like obesity that may lead to chronic diseases like diabetes. “We have the same concerns as everyone else in the country when it comes to health risks. We want to make sure we have behavior change programs to reach as many people as possible.”

The wellness coordinator for 3,200 employees and retirees, Kurita was happy to find a new place for good ideas and tools to improve her team’s health.

It’s the Workplace Health Resource Center (WHRC), a new website CDC launched in August 2017 with more than 200 tools to help employers build their wellness programs—from breakroom posters to guides on how to reduce heart disease and stroke.

WHRC offers these free resources for organizations to help employees with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, obesity, smoking, and other health concerns.

CDC introduced the new website at the Public Health Grand Rounds, a monthly series created to encourage discussion on major public health issues like workplace wellness.

Worksite Health Scorecard logo

CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard has science-based strategies to help prevent heart disease, stroke, and other conditions.

New Workplace Health Resource Center

CDC and other health and wellness experts continually screen new information to add to the website. A one-stop shop for workplace health promotion and wellness tools, the WHRC includes:

  • Tutorials on how to start a workplace health promotion program that fits each organization’s needs
  • Webinars
  • Videos
  • Case studies on what has worked for other employers when it comes to fitness, obesity, stress management, quitting smoking, and work/life balance strategies.

For instance, website users can put in the search term “stress” and find resources like a research summary of Johnson & Johnson’s employee health program that combines health promotion, performance and energy management, occupational health, and mental health services.

As another example, website users who search for information on blood pressure can learn about Reducing the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke: A Six-Step Guide for Employers. This 10-page CDC guide lists six steps employers can take to reduce heart disease and stroke among workers. The guide provides an overview of the business costs and savings associated with heart disease and stroke, and then offers promising practices to improve cardiovascular health in the workplace.

Easy-to-Find Free Resources

CDC designed the new workplace health promotion website for everyone from retail, wholesale, service, and other for-profit businesses to health departments, school systems, and other nonprofit organizations. Many employers are interested in creating or expanding a workplace health promotion program but may not know where to start.

The WHRC makes it easy for employers to find free resources to improve employees’ physical, emotional, and financial health.

“I like that it’s one central clearinghouse for workplace wellness resources,” says Dasheema Jarrett, public health advisor and lead for the well@work West Virginia Healthy Worksite Initiative. The Initiative is part of an effort to reduce the rates of obesity and chronic disease in West Virginia.

Jarrett says worksites are a great place to support and encourage healthy lifestyle choices.

How West Virginia Keeps Score of Local Progress

Fifty-five counties in West Virginia use the CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard, one of the tools from the Resource Center to help employers run effective workplace health programs. It’s designed to help them use evidence-based health promotion strategies at their worksite to prevent heart disease, stroke, and related conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

Each item on the ScoreCard provides an action employers can take to improve their wellness programs. “If you answered no to one of the questions—such as ‘Did you provide stress management programs?’—you can make it a yes by doing something about it. That’s what I like about the ScoreCard,” says Jarrett.

Some of the actions West Virginia counties have taken include providing blood pressure cuffs in the workplace and putting up signs that suggest employees can take the stairs and burn more calories. “Studies have shown if you display signs,” says Jarrett, “people will increase their physical activity in the workplace.”

Workplace health programs also make financial sense for employers. Studies show for every $1 they spend on workplace wellness programs, they can reduce medical costs by more than $3.

How Dow Chemical Keeps Score of Its Progress around the World

Dow Chemical uses the CDC Worksite Health ScoreCard as the framework for promoting a healthy corporate culture at sites worldwide, from headquarters in Michigan to Mexico, Brazil and Australia. “One of the great values of the ScoreCard is the research and evidence-based thinking behind it,” says Peggy Sczepanski, Dow’s Health Promotion Coordinator. “I can use this tool to effectively develop site action plans with key leaders and stakeholders. The ScoreCard helps to identify improvement areas for sites to focus on, both short- and long-term.”

Worksite wellness involves culture change. That takes time. As she says, it’s about helping leaders understand the benefits of a healthy workforce, and making the connection between health and safety—such as healthier employees tend to have fewer injuries and days lost from work.

According to Sczepanski, “The Worksite Health ScoreCard energizes and empowers sites to think creatively about how to build a healthy workplace.”

Business Is Human—Lots and Lots of Humans

Business and organizations are human. Lots and lots of humans. Humans behind every computer, every cash register, and every toolbox. People who can spend more than one-third of their day at the workplace.

Employers have an opportunity to make a difference. When employees feel good, they work well. Working well means higher productivity and manageable health care costs.

You’ll support your employees, your people, your humans, and in turn help your organization thrive. To learn more, see CDC’s new Business Is Human video.