PH and HR: Public Health and Human Resources, a Holistic Approach.

It's that time of the year again and I know that there are lots of talks about candy making in breakrooms. But wait a minute! I just came across a tweet about Nestlé today: chocolate with 40% less sugar is in the making! I love chocolate - it's the only candy I eat and I don't call it "candy" - so you can count me on that. .. Also, policy-wise, there is also quite a bit of buzz around Obamacare, well, call it "Healthcare". Those are news; but this post is about a simple, down-to-earth subject that has bigger consequences.  My question of the day: where are we heading to as a society? This is about Public Health and HR.

Counterintuitive Programs?

When it comes to HR, it sometimes amazes me how much we do hurt ourselves without realizing it.
  • (1) Why is it that we (companies, HR or local HR partners doing the execution) choose all kinds of indulging food as engagement initiatives? Think a little bit: we provide sometimes or often (some organizations on a weekly basis) free lunches and/or free breakfasts. We even market it and use it as a recruiting tool. Perfect! Employees love it: it helps on busy days. But if Tech companies' cafetarias are ahead of times and have joined the rank of those in Europe, we still have to wonder why so many others offer super sugary donuts for breakfast. Why super salty and fatty food for lunches? Why candies galore as recognition? Maybe because it is what is easily accessible and not too pricey, within the most common HR budget. Well, we (again, companies via HR) cannot afford organic, and most of us are not creative enough to go around the issue...Worse: we just don't think of it as an issue. Certainly not! We are doing the best we can. We provide free breakfasts and lunches, and we recognize any work effort! We work on engagement and recognition, and we think it also helps in retention and morale. So what's the fuss about? Ah! Flip the coin: it is a Public Health issue! I bet it never occurred to you that organizations could fall into that "food accessibility and affordability" trap, let alone "health education."
  • (2) And I repeat, let alone Health Education and Promotion because on the other hand, we (companies via HR: EAP, Health Benefits, Wellness) do offer a wide-, and ever increasing range of health incentives in Health Prevention programs: smoking cessation, weight loss, diabetes and High Blood Pressure and Cholesterol prevention to name a few. We (companies) are also firmly convinced - and within reason-  that those Heath-related programs will help in Healthcare cost reduction, productivity, morale, and retention. Don't our Engagement, Retention, and Recruitment initiatives need to fall in-line with other programs that ,after all, have in target business success? And, if we, as a company, can go green we also ought to be able to bring Bio and green food to the table.
So, why are we (companies) running counterintuitive programs? No, the programs are fantastic! Everything is always fantastic on paper, right? The little hiccup is "just" in the interpretation and execution... as usual. Also, application of logic is not always as simple as it appears to be...

Bringing It to a Full Circle

To me, and I know this is finally getting to be the norm (HR as a business partner and leader), we (companies) would be more successful if HR (we again) could have a more holistic approach to projects and programs, and analyze or approach those HR-related programs as inherent to business success. On the one hand, Senior leadership need to understand that HR has a role in bringing together the elements that impact Healthcare, Marketing Communication, and HR issues such as retention, morale, performance and productivity. One the other hand, it IS the business case that HR needs to uphold.

So, we design the big picture, but we all have to put the pieces of the puzzle together to bring the elements of that big picture alive and well, in full circle. Certainly, we would have a better company performance for our human resources feeling better at work. We would also contribute to a better society, a healthier one, a more successful one, one organization at a time, one HR at a time. As agent of change, leader, and business partner, should we transmit that message - in simple terms - up to the lowest level of HR execution for best practices? Why not? We are all part of a chain and contributing to the same goal, aren't we?

Resources Update:
Human Resources for Health
On Breakrooms
On Improved Health and Organizational Performance
On Food for Employees and Corporate Productivity

En Synthèse ...

Alors, qui n'aime pas les confiseries et friandises? Nestlé l'a compris: ils réduiront le sucre du chocolat par 40%! Mais toutes les boites ne partagent pas encore ce point de vue, particulièrement aux USA où (trop souvent encore) l'on ADORE tout ce qui est super sucré, super salé, super gras. Alors, c'est ce qui est apprécié par les employés quand les boites font des bonus sous forme de repas. Alors, bonjour friandises et gourmandises et snacks, et "comfort food". Enfin, tout de même, les boites techno, c'est une autre affaire, c'est comme en Europe, mais pour le commun des mortels, c'est le lot habituel. Enfin, c'est pas mal comme forme de reconnaissance, mais c'est quand mème à faire gaffe car l’obésité c'est rampant, pour ne pas dire ça court les rues. Alors, oui, la Santé Publique et les RH, c'est à la croisée des chemins. 

En effet, qui aurait pensé que les boites auraient un problème d’accès à de sains et bons produits? Faute de budget, comme les gens de la rue, certains RH ne peuvent pas faire autrement. Les aliments bio, c'est pas donné. Mais aussi, faute d'imagination peut-être. Et encore, à défaut de voir les choses de manière intégrée, sans doute. L'on ne peut séparer les questions assurance-santé, prévention, aide aux familles, et initiatives similaires de la pratique des RH. Seulement, il faut que tout le monde comprenne qu'il s'impose de considérer les programmes d'entreprise comme une entité unique à fin unique, même si relevant de différents départements pour ainsi dire. Voila pourquoi les RH de demain sont des business partenaires et des leaders.


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