Businesses as Partners to Improve Community Health

This editorial from the National Business Coalition on Health (NBCH) discusses the role of employers in creating healthier workplaces and communities. The author, the president and CEO of NBCH, identifies different stages of employer involvement in health and outlines actions that businesses and public health organizations can undertake together for the good of the community.

Since the 1980s, employers have recognized that supporting a healthier population is an important way to combat rising health care costs. This recognition is coupled with the understanding that providing quality health care alone is not sufficient to maintain a healthy workplace and stable health premiums.

Key Findings:

  • Employer involvement in community health can be broken into three stages. The first stage includes companies that address direct health costs by creating health benefits programs, improving worksite wellness and focusing on health care. The second stage goes beyond direct health costs to include value-based purchasing, incentive approaches for employee well-being, and collaboration with other local businesses to improve health. The third stage of involvement includes evidence-based purchasing, corporate policies aligned with public health priorities, and support of community-based health programs. The NBCH helps businesses move through the three stages to support employees and communities.
  • The NBCH recently launched a Community Health Partnership program that provides grants that support common goals between business and public health communities. These partnerships include efforts to identify areas for health improvement, establish healthier work and school environments, and support policies with broad health benefits for the population.

Employers play an important role in affecting the health of their employees. Programs from the NBCH help employers maximize their positive health impact without compromising organizational goals.