The goal of the Health Means Business campaign, sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is to engage businesses of all sizes in an enlightened national discussion “about the interdependency between health and economic empowerment, and to promote a culture of health in the United States.” When individuals and communities put well-being at the center of every aspect of life, it can create an environment where people thrive and feel valued, respected and able to do meaningful work – creating a culture of health.
This fall, I had the honor of participating on a panel business and healthcare industry leaders organized by the Health Means Business campaign, including Cathy Kenworthy, CEO of Interactive Health; Mike Gordon, president of business operations for Chicago Wolves Hockey; and Patrick Bryan, senior vice president of the American Heart Association. The panel was moderated by Richard Crespin, CEO of CollaborateUp and senior fellow of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, and covered topics related to how businesses can impact the health of the community.
But how does a business begin to improve the health of its own community and employees, let alone the health of its extended community and the U.S.? Throughout my career as a business owner and entrepreneur, I learned that promoting health among my employees went beyond providing insurance benefits, days off, workers’ compensation benefits. People spend most of their waking moments working – more than they spend with their families or in leisure activities. So it makes sense that employers use that valuable time to foster wellness.
Promoting a Culture of Health
If we think about health as a sense of well-being that enables a person to bring his or her best self to work every day, creating an environment where people thrive means people feel valued, are respected and are doing meaningful work. One of the most powerful ways a business can begin to contribute to health is to create an environment that provides alternatives to stress and tension in the workplace. This can be in the form of socio-emotional opportunities to make healthy choices, an environment that encourages colleagues to move and stay active, opportunities for professional growth in areas of interest and a company-wide dedication towards encouraging a work-life balance.
In my current role, I serve as President of Chamberlain College of Nursing. One might think that a caring culture is an obvious attribute at a college where nurses are educated. But a caring culture has to be intentionally created, promoted and supported by leadership in order to provide employees with a clear model of how to live care each day.
Establishing a Culture of Care
At Chamberlain College of Nursing, we set out to create an intentional culture of care – called Chamberlain Care® – and it’s a simple equation: we believe that if we take extraordinary care of faculty and colleagues, they will take extraordinary care of our students, and our students will in turn take extraordinary care of the patients and families they serve. By creating a culture where our colleagues and students thrive, we are more likely to educate the kind of extraordinary nurses that add value to the healthcare workforce. We believe that students who are exposed to the concepts of care and service on a daily basis will internalize them, just as they internalize the knowledge and skills they need to master patient care. This philosophy is built into everything we do at Chamberlain and is a key to student success.
Supporting a culture where employees can thrive – mentally, emotionally, and professionally – costs nothing except your time and commitment to modeling the behaviors you wish to promote. For Chamberlain, the outcome was incredible. Employees told us they’ve never been in a work environment where they felt so cared for and supported – through respectful interactions and the encouragement of ideas, employees feel comfortable and willing to speak up. As a result, because they feel cared for, they are much more engaged in their work and better able to care for other colleagues and students. What a great testament to health being good for business!
Impacting the Community
Chamberlain College of Nursing students and faculty are active in the business and communities we serve and are available to support health initiatives in your workplaces. Interested in exploring opportunities for Chamberlain students and nurses to support your healthy initiates? Please submit an email to firstname.lastname@example.org outlining the details of your project, timing and needs and we’d love to explore the possibilities together.
By Susan Groenwald
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