DALLAS, November 1, 2023 — Health outcomes research has shown that workers in the U.S. experience inequitable health and well-being, with significant variations in the burden of chronic disease, mental health conditions, food insecurity and more across populations, even among those covered by employer-sponsored insurance.,  Recent studies demonstrate how the workplace can serve as a social driver of health, impacting the risk of conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease.,  This growing body of evidence underscores the need to equip employers with tools and resources to positively influence the health and well-being of their workforce.
To help bridge this gap, the American Heart Association, a global force for healthier lives for all, today released the Health Equity in the Workforce Employer Resource Guide, developed in collaboration with the Deloitte Health Equity Institute and the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) Foundation. This new resource aims to increase employers’ understanding and adoption of health equity in the workplace to help all employees reach their full health potential.
The guide includes an overview of how health inequities can manifest in the workplace and the role of the employer, as well as actionable strategies, economic insights and guidance on measuring progress. Expanding on the foundational work of the Association’s CEO Roundtable in support of the 2024 Health Equity Impact Goal, the guide delves deeper into the practical implementation of health equity policies and practices and the potential impact on workforce health and business performance.
“The American Heart Association is committed to championing health equity through every means possible, including activating employers to drive change in the workplace,” shared Gerald Johnson, American Heart Association EVP, Office of Health Equity and chief diversity officer. “Mounting evidence has highlighted the inequitable experience of health and well-being in the U.S. workforce, and the implications this has for both employees and employers. Organizations at the forefront of this movement that commit to actively dismantling barriers to health for employees will reap the benefits of increased trust, engagement and strengthened business outcomes.”
A future of health equity is one in which everyone has an optimal and just opportunity to be healthy, with intentional consideration for those at greatest risk of poor health. Optimizing the workplace so that all employees can thrive is not only a moral imperative, but also supports continued business success. Through intentional efforts to align benefits, policies and programs with equity considerations, employers can play a vital role in helping achieve zero gaps in health outcomes.
“Our research shows that employers have an important role to play in helping to advance health equity, and benefit design is just one aspect where business leaders can drive meaningful change for their workforce,” said Kulleni Gebreyes, M.D., Deloitte U.S. Life Sciences and Health Care Consulting leader and chief health equity officer. “Through this collaboration with the American Heart Association and SHRM Foundation, we hope to empower employers with the resources to embed health equity into strategies and solutions that can improve the health and wellbeing of all their employees.”
"This health equity resource guide is just the next step in a critical campaign that the SHRM Foundation is taking part in," said Wendi Safstrom, president of the SHRM Foundation. "Our research showed that more than half of U.S. workers (53%) are likely to leave their current job if offered a new job with significantly better mental health benefits. This guide helps leaders bridge that gap."
The Health Equity in the Workforce collaboration provides employers with actionable strategies to help ensure that their health and well-being benefits, policies, and programs result in equitable outcomes for all employees. An employee-centric, equity minded approach can also help strengthen employee engagement and retention, build consumer trust, and support talent attraction in today’s competitive market., ,  The initiative is powered by the American Heart Association’s Well-being Works Better™ platform, which helps business leaders unleash the power of a healthy, happy workforce.
Visit heart.org/workequity to access the Employer Resource Guide and learn more.
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- AHA news release: Equipping employers to address costly health inequities, improve workforce well-being
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