More than 50 employers come together to focus on workplace health

As part of the Nashville Area Chamber’s Health Competitiveness Initiative, the Chamber partnered with Vanderbilt University Medical Center to host the Workforce Health Executive Roundtable on Monday, Nov. 27. The half-day program took place at Metro Nashville Public Schools’ Employee Wellness Center. More than 50 employers participated, each assessing their current workplace health culture and sharing their aspirational goals, concerns and commitments with one another in a peer-group setting.

The health competitiveness of the Nashville region has emerged as a priority for the Nashville Chamber, particularly as it relates to workplace health and productivity. As our region contends with an aging workforce and tightening labor market, coupled with population health status that lags the nation, employer health programs have gained new attention.

Following the release of the Nashville Region Health Competitiveness Report in collaboration with FTI Consulting’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, the Chamber’s Research Center responded to a request by Vanderbilt University Medical Center to assess broad patterns in area employer health programs.

Participants were provided this new research by Chamber VP of Research, Dr. Garrett Harper, learning key features and characteristics that make such programs successful. Meg Guerin-Calvert, President and Senior Managing Director at FTI’s Center for Healthcare Economics and Policy, shared new data on the productivity costs of various chronic conditions.

Presentations by Dr. Mary Yarbrough, Executive Director of Faculty and Staff Health and Wellness at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and David Hines, Director of Benefits at Metro Nashville Public Schools, provided tangible steps for employers interested in improving productivity and well-being within their organizations. These steps include:

  1. Identifying the problem
  2. Picking a strategy
  3. Developing and implementing your plan
  4. Evaluating your progress, and
  5. Communicating with your employees.

During the program, participants cited their primary concerns related to workplace health. Top responses included productivity (absenteeism and presenteeism), healthcare costs, employee morale, impact on co-workers, and continuity of client service and relationships. The biggest health-related challenges for employees themselves included stress, mental and physical health, healthcare costs and access to care. Participants shared best practices for tackling these issues, particularly in a tight labor market where retention and recruitment of talent is key to business success. Each company left with at least three ideas to take back to their organization. Company leaders shared aspirational goals of where they would like to be along a spectrum of workplace health, and they now have a baseline from which to track and evaluate progress over time.

The Chamber continues to explore ways to be a useful champion for health and wellness in the Nashville region. We believe increasing employer awareness and engagement in this area will allow businesses to play a more direct role in improving health outcomes for their own employees and, as a result, the broader Nashville population.

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