Worker Well-being Survey

Our Sustainability and Health Initiative for NetPositive Enterprise (SHINE) works with corporations to demonstrate how their positive impacts can make a sustainable difference for people and the planet. To this end, SHINE worked with Johnson & Johnson to investigate the employee health impacts of work, using a tool that will catalyze profound changes in how we measure, evaluate, and improve the work environment to support well-being and performance. 

Our work yielded the Worker Well-being Survey—a tool that provides a universal language for reporting on sustainability and health that we hope will motivate broad social impact. It is an anonymous survey, which protects identity by collecting data behind the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health firewall, and which is then analyzed by researchers at the school.

Our goal is to discover the connections between what employees do at work and how they regard their well-being and the organizational culture, as well as to understand the linkages between mental, physical, and psychosocial health, and performance at work.  The tool is meant as a key performance indicator for health impacts and a diagnostic for creating “handprints,” which are positive improvements in well-being.

We also strive to discover better ways to understand how the culture of well-being within a company affects business performance. What is invisible cannot be managed, and the survey shines a light on what an organization cannot see—leading indicators for worker well-being that help companies determine where the gaps are in the health and culture of their organization, and what can be done to help workers flourish and the company to perform efficiently and profitably.

How Companies Use the Worker Well-being Survey to Improve Worker Health and Productivity

Owens Corning piloted the Worker Well-being Survey and redefined their focus on wellness to include mental health, given the weight of the results in this area. At Owens Corning, we matched the well-being indicators to the annual health risk appraisal (HRA) assessments and found that higher risk was associated with lower well-being.  Notably, the relationships between well-being and productivity outcomes were stronger than between HRA results and productivity because we picked up people before they were cast in higher risk categories.  For example, sleep and depression outcomes in the well-being tool were correlated with the HRA but the HRA was picking up only the more severe cases.

EYP Architecture & Engineering, a design firm, applied the Worker Well-being Survey in their own offices, with a customized module to understand how office design can impact employee well-being.  EYP is particularly interested in how buildings shape our health— such as how open staircases and sit-to-stand desks encourage standing and movement; how providing views to nature and circadian lighting systems to reduce stress can help with sleep; and how they can apply behavioral economics and choice architecture to nudge employees toward healthier decisions and habits.

EYP engaged with SHINE to measure employee wellbeing across 15 of its offices. Applying the Worker Well-being Survey revealed three striking findings. 1) Hours of sleep among employees are associated with length of their commutes, 2) exercise during the day was associated with the proximity of the office to green space, and 3) engagement is associated with access to transit, parks, and views of nature. We are continuing to analyze the survey results. What we find will inform how EYP selects office locations in the future as well as some imminent design upgrades—particularly EYP’s Albany office, which is designed to be a net zero energy building. EYP is currently engaged in a “deeper dive” study to explore the intersection between energy reduction, design, and human health. The company is also using the Worker Well-being Survey findings to inform EYP’s wellness program and HR initiatives.

For more about our worker well-being research read our white paper: Shining a Light on Worker Well-being