The Value of Nursing in Building a Culture of Health (Part 2)

Helping Employers Create Safe and Productive Workplaces

King County employees enjoy a strength training class located in the basement of their offices.

Nurses are in the vanguard of many efforts to devise and implement worksite-based care delivery and preventive health experiments that target access, wellness, cost-reduction and safety.

This policy brief showcases a wide array of nurse-designed or -executed initiatives aimed at creating workplaces that nurture employee health. The brief also highlights controversies arising from some of these initiatives and explores the challenges of measuring their full value.

The Issue

There is a growing recognition that health depends largely on what happens outside of health care settings. With many adults spending most of their waking lives at work, this arena is a prime target for improving health. Nurses, who have been active in the workplace for more than 100 years, are well suited to lead these efforts.

Key Findings

  • Employers in diverse industries rely on nurses to keep workers safe, reduce absenteeism and workers’ compensation claims, slow the rise in health care costs and improve productivity.

  • Changing the workplace environment and melding traditional worksite safety programs with efforts to promote healthy behaviors is more effective than stand-alone health promotion initiatives.

  • Worksite clinics staffed by nurses and nurse practitioners reduce health care costs for employers and employees and improve productivity and employee engagement.

  • Today’s occupational health nurses are blending contemporary strategies with interventions pioneered by earlier generations to build a Culture of Health.

Conclusion

As health care costs climb and chronic disease saps productivity, employers are turning to nurses for their flexibility, leadership and experience in building workplace Cultures of Health.

About the Series

For ten years, Charting Nursing’s Future has assembled research and expert opinion to inform readers about policies and best practices that are transforming nursing, health care and public health. Propensity LLC currently produces this series.