Employee well-being is integrated into every aspect of IBM’s global business. It underpins our total health management system and demonstrates a commitment to employee health and safety that values the whole person—at work, at home or as a member of a larger community.
In communicating his 2012 vision statement to more than 400,000 IBMers around the world, Dr. Kyu Rhee, MD, vice president of IBM Integrated Health Services (IHS), explained it this way: “We optimize performance through healthy choices, people, workplaces, families and communities.” This vision is further expressed in our well-being mission statements:
- Address local and global health priorities
- Improve the overall health and vitality of our employees
- Provide safe and healthy work environments
- Design health benefits and health promotion programs to
improve access, increase quality, reduce costs
and drive innovation
- Support business continuity and growth
Under the leadership of Dr. Rhee, IBM’s IHS team delivers on this vision through a set of global health priorities that encompasses health promotion, safety and medical programs and health benefits design and strategy.
Engagement in the social business space
In 2012, IBM broke new ground with the launch of its social business community called Commit to Health. Members of IBM’s well-being team created blogs and forums for interaction with employees about various health, safety and wellness topics, allowing the team to identify and track related concerns across our vast workforce through their comments. In response to a blog post on the flu, for example, employees expressed their support for this communication channel:
“Thank you Doc. These are good points and I will share them with my family members. Thanks for my virtual doctor's office visit.”
“Thanks Dr. Rhee, your information is well organized and very useful. I'll be passing this on to colleagues, family and friends.”
Supporting the whole person
Well-being efforts at IBM take a holistic approach to the experience of health, and that includes stress. Sometimes stress can lead to mental health concerns, so IBM provides support for employees and their families with an array of programs and resources. Coverage for mental health care is now available in many countries.
A special focus in 2012 was the new dimension of mental health first aid. The IBM well-being team in Australia/New Zealand arranged for human resource partners to complete a mental health first aid course to assist in the management of a mental health crisis presenting at work. Participation of 75 percent of the total number of the partners available indicated the importance of skill building in this area.
Providing safe workplaces in today's frequently changing business landscape is a top priority for IBM. The workplace is now defined in many ways and often involves various external partners as we move business execution closer to the client. As a result, IBM’s safety programs have evolved in 2012 to include:
- Safe buildings – Last year a record number of building inspections were conducted, pre- and post-occupancy, in focus areas including IBM leased sites and customer sites. Specific focus was provided on standardizing practices in growth markets for delivering high-value safety programs that support employee well-being and help meet applicable safety regulations. Skill development, team integration and management responsibility were top goals. Mature-market safety professionals worked with their growth-market peers to help interpret regulations, convey best practices and resolve issues.
- Safety on the road – In many markets, transportation infrastructure and driving behavior creates risk for our employees as they come to and from work, wherever that workplace is. Special programs were designed last year to teach employees how simple changes can improve their safety while on the road, as a driver or pedestrian.
For example, IBM India delivered various programs to help reduce risk:
- Online awareness programs were extended to all employees
through multiple resources.
- Onsite programs were organized in 42 buildings.
- Employee participation in onsite programs reached 22 percent.
At the conclusion of this effort, employees pledged to drive safely.
Recognition of excellence
External certification of IBM’s Well-Being Management System through the OHSAS 18001 certification process has helped improve the quality and consistency of our global implementation of well-being. It has also enabled IBM to fulfill marketplace demands and foster business opportunities because the company is more readily able to demonstrate its standardized approach to managing employee well-being to existing and potential clients. IBM remains the only organization with a health/safety management system that has been certified by OHSAS 18001 globally. In 2012 we also received the following recognition:
- All of IBM’s hardware research, development and manufacturing operations in the United States were recognized as OSHA Voluntary Protection Programs "Star" sites. This is OSHA's highest honor that is given only to those that are proactive and exhibit exemplary safety and health programs and results.
- IBM India won second prize in the Large Scale Industries Sector, which included both manufacturing and corporate sectors. IBM India also received a “Certificate of Commendation” from the Confederation of Indian Industry for innovative practices in the field of environmental health and safety.
- IBM Mexico’s Guadalajara location was recognized by the Health and Safety Ministry for implementing programs and helping other companies in the safety and health arena.
- IBM Canada’s Bromont location was recognized by the Quebec Health and Safety Agency with a Grand Prix Innovation award for its ergonomic "microbreak" initiative to prevent musculoskeletal discomfort, injuries and illnesses.
- Other highlights from 2012 include four patents granted to members of IBM’s Integrated Health Services with four more pending.
Continued focus on primary care
IBM has understood the benefits of driving patient-centric primary care for some time. Two years ago, IBM took an extraordinary step by providing 100 percent coverage for primary healthcare for IBMers in the United States who are enrolled in IBM’s self-insured health plans. In 2012, the expansion of fully covered primary care was extended to many other countries including Mexico, the Philippines and Turkey. Additional preventive care services for women, such as contraceptives, some patient counseling, prenatal visits and screening for gestational diabetes, are now covered 100 percent.
The percentage of coverage for primary healthcare for IBMers in the United States who are enrolled in IBM’s self-insured health plans.
Well-Being Management System
IBM’s Well-Being Management System (WBMS) is the foundational architecture that provides this coordinated and consistent delivery of health and safety objectives across all geographies and time zones. First implemented in 1999, WBMS is framed around IBM’s corporate policy of responsibility for employee well-being and product safety. This cornerstone of IBM’s WBMS follows the “plan-do-check-act” principles that are common in International Organization for Standardization (ISO) consensus standards. System components include proactive planning, execution excellence, measurement and continuous improvement in areas of employee health and well-being.
Each year we engage in a strategic planning process to consider new WBMS global objectives that align with evolving business priorities. These objectives are translated into relevant initiatives with the flexibility to accommodate unique well-being and safety requirements at a local level. The desired outcomes are improved productivity, managed costs and elimination of unnecessary expenses.
Employees and their families
Each IBMer is a member of a family and often provides health benefits for family members, putting them in a position to share valuable learning about health and safety with the people in their lives. With this in mind, IBM has chosen to create programs that help our most important resource to care for themselves and their families. We also encourage people to make a commitment to their health goals.
“Like everything else we do to achieve success in our personal life, optimizing health can be enhanced through a deep commitment to goals. I ask that you make a healthier lifestyle one of your goals—and commit to a healthier way of living today. Regular practices like physical activity, healthy food selections and effective stress management—when coupled with guidance from your physician—all help to put you on the right path to success,” says Dr. Rhee.
To facilitate commitment, IBM has prioritized programs and offerings designed to help make the healthiest choice also be the easiest choice for employees and families.
IBM’s approach to helping IBMers improve their quality of health
Delivering the IBM commitment
To support employee commitments, IBM in 2012 continued to build on the foundation of programs that drive healthy behaviors through smoke-free policies, nutritious food selections at the worksite and options for physical activity, weight management, infection prevention and disease screening. For example, in response to the alarming cardiac and diabetes rates across the general population in India, IBM now offers cardio-vascular and diabetes screening camps:
- Parameters tested: blood pressure, blood sugar, total cholesterol and body mass index
- Programs across 80 sites (IBM India and Global Process Services); 38,800 employees participated
- 856 high-risk cases identified for risk intervention strategy over three months
Other examples of health programs based on local needs include IBM Korea’s onsite program to check for metabolic syndrome, the precursor to cardiovascular disease, and IBM Japan’s cervical, breast and colon cancer screening. In the United States, offerings directed at preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer stress the value of physical activity and healthy eating by offering rebates for targeted health promotions. The following chart outlines the evolution of this approach to stimulate participation in healthy living choices:
Overall High engagement in Rebate Programs
Diagnoses of illnesses attributable to obesity (e.g., hypertension, diabetes) are no longer confined to adults, and these illnesses can take a heavy toll on families through the impact on children. The Children’s Health Rebate was designed to reward good nutrition and physical activity for the entire family, which is key to helping children develop healthy habits for a lifetime and support maintenance of healthy weight.
The vitality link
IBM understands that implementing a broader vision of wellness—one that integrates key approaches for building vitality and the capacity to flourish—best meets the emerging needs of employees and the company. With the fast pace, constant change, evolving roles and demand for creative solutions in today’s business environment, employees must be healthy, optimistic, energetic and resilient to achieve personal and business success. This requires a high state of well-being beyond the absence of illness, disease and injury. Two offerings were developed around this theme:
- Personal Vitality Rebate Program – This US-based rebate program was designed to introduce employees to new vitality-building practices or techniques via a web-based tool and encourages experimenting with the practices in their daily lives over four weeks. These techniques range from improving sleep habits to building positivity and mindfulness to incorporating new routines into work practices. Over 70,000 employees have participated in the Personal Vitality program since it began in 2011.
- Healthy IBMer Program: A Game Approach – To promote awareness, ownership and actions regarding health and well-being among IBMers, a series of games were created by IBM India. This approach brought the additional benefit of improving the overall environment and promoting teamwork. Participating IBMers were divided into groups with managers as captains of each group. This “healthy” competition covered three challenges with disease screening, fitness and health risk assessment components.
The number of employees that have participated in IBM’s Personal Vitality program since it began in 2011.
Healthcare system delivery reform
IBM maintains a leadership role in championing well-being for the benefit of the company and its employees, their families and the communities in which they live. In the area of benefits design and redesign, bids routinely include coverage for preventive screening, as well as maternity and behavioral health care. The practice of excluding coverage for pre-existing disease is being eliminated by IBM. The IBM benefit design approach establishes a benchmark for employer excellence and historically has forced our competition to adopt IBM best practices in order to vie for talent. What was once novel now becomes the norm and these improvements create positive change at the community level.
Contributing through corporate service
In 2012, IBM’s well-being organization participated once again in the company’s Corporate Service Corps to deliver community service. Enrique Zepeda, IHS Mexico manager, was assigned to Malaysia along with 11 other IBM employees to help the Sarawak State Library simplify the implementation of the library's Health and Safety Management System. The outcome was a management commitment to implement the group’s recommendations and provide training material for managers and employees.
Leading the way in professional communities
Participation in professional communities contributes to the body of research, best practices and standards development that helps communities at large. IBM sponsors and collaborates with several US university-based consortia research programs to help ensure the safe use of current, new and emerging materials critical to the semiconductor industry. Included are:
- The Semiconductor Research Corporation Engineering Research Center for Environmentally Benign Semiconductor Manufacturing, a multi-university research center leading the way to environmentally friendly semiconductor manufacturing
- Sematech-ISMI EHS Advanced Technology Assessment projects developing EHS data for current and future manufacturing technologies
- Albany College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering EHS research on workplace safety and toxicity of nanomaterials
IBM led the Semiconductor Industry Association gap analysis of environmental health and safety efforts sponsored by semiconductor industry members to achieve a well-defined set of goals and results that support the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors.
IBM is actively involved in the US National Science Foundation-sponsored Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), a consortium of universities and researchers. The results of this research will be foundational as the industry moves into a post-CMOS world.
Thirteen IBM well-being staff supported their professional communities in their respective disciplines including medicine, nursing, industrial hygiene and safety. Whether through a term on a professional board, acceptance of a publication or delivery of a speech, IBM maintained a leadership position in these professions dedicated to helping people stay healthy and safe.