University of Michigan Receives C. Everett Koop National Health Award for Efforts to Promote a Culture of Health
The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on workplace health and safety issues and demonstrated the critical role worker wellbeing plays in our nation’s ability to be resilient in the face of crisis. The importance of protecting and promoting employee health, however, is not unique to our current circumstances. Some employers have long realized that investing in workplace health promotion and wellbeing programs can help organizations achieve sustainable business results even in the best of times.
For more than a quarter century, a non-profit known as The Health Project has been awarding annual prizes to organizations with proven health improvement programs through its prestigious C. Everett Koop National Health Award. Today, The Health Project announced the University of Michigan (U-M) as its 2021 award winner.
The University’s MHealthy program supports the health and wellbeing of U-M faculty and staff, as well as their families, U-M patients, retirees, community members, and K-12 students. MHealthy delivers effective, evidence-based health and wellbeing programs and services that improve people’s lives and support a culture of health at the University. Broadly, programs address the following health behavior areas: physical activity/movement, tobacco cessation, alcohol use, nutrition and weight concerns, mental and emotional wellbeing, and sleep, as well as services for occupational health and ergonomics.
In examining data between 2016 and 2019, program participants were found to have lower medical and pharmaceutical claims costs, illness-related absenteeism, and turnover rates compared to non-participants. Moreover, U-M performed better than several national benchmarks on various measures, including illness-related absenteeism, turnover, and organizational health scores.
Since its inception in 2016, the program has remained nimble to meet the varying challenges faced by its employees, including those arising from the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, MHealthy introduced new initiatives to address unique pandemic-related issues such as caregiving, social isolation, and financial wellbeing.
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“The C. Everett Koop Award recognizes organizations with comprehensive, evidence-based programs designed to improve health and wellbeing,” said Ron Goetzel, PhD, President and CEO of The Health Project. “The Health Project is honored to add the University of Michigan to its list of award-winning organizations and hope U-M’s exemplary workplace health promotion program encourages others to strengthen their efforts at a time when employee health and wellbeing is critical to the National Health Award of the nation.”
Because of the rigorous standards required for documenting health improvements and cost savings, fewer than 70 organizations have been honored with this prestigious award since The Health Project was established, with the late Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former Surgeon General of the United States, as its honorary chairperson.
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