IBM’s history of leadership and commitment to employee health, well-being and workplace safety dates back to the very beginnings of the company. IBM established a leadership position on workplace safety even before Thomas J. Watson, Jr. issued our first formal policy in 1967.
"Advancing the health, safety and well-being of our global workforce is an absolute priority; it’s a commitment that encompasses the environments in which employees work and the communities in which they live."
Martín J. Sepúlveda, M.D. FACP, IBM Fellow, Vice President Integrated Health Services
Employee well-being is incorporated in every aspect of IBM’s global business, from our strategic and business planning to operations such as procurement, construction, manufacturing equipment, real estate leases, product development, acquisitions and outsourcing arrangements.
As IBM continues to transform and expand into global markets, we have evolved from a product and manufacturing-centric employee base to a more dynamic, customer-centric mobile workforce. Additionally, global economic, demographic and emerging healthcare trends pose challenges to IBM’s ability to ensure the health, safety and well-being of its workforce.
These challenges require a “total health management” framework that transcends the implementation of traditional employee well-being programs by recognizing the importance of promoting physical and psychological health. This framework also provides for a coordinated and consistent approach across all geographies and time zones. Driven by IBM’s Well-Being Management System, it ensures proactive planning, execution excellence, measurement and continuous improvement in all areas of employee health and well-being.
IBM’s Integrated Health Services organization – consisting of occupational medicine, industrial hygiene, safety, health benefits and wellness professionals – is responsible for implementing employee well-being programs that are proactive, relevant, and effective in managing the highly complex, diverse, and ever-changing health and safety needs of our employees around the world.
Explore the following subjects to learn more about how IBM supports the health and well-being of all IBMers.
IBM’s Well-being Management System
First implemented in 1999, IBM's Well-being Management System (WBMS) is a global, centralized system that links the company's occupational medicine, industrial hygiene, safety, wellness and health benefits, strategic initiatives and programs to IBM’s strategies covering manufacturing, research and development, sales and services worldwide. IBM's corporate policy, Responsibility for Employee Well-Being and Product Safety, is the cornerstone of IBM's WBMS, which follows the "plan-do-check-act" principles that are common in International Organization for Standardization (ISO) consensus standards. This systematic approach involves a "planning, implementation, evaluation and review" cycle that monitors and audits well-being requirements and improvement objectives. It also provides a process for corrective or preventive health and safety actions.
"IBM's Well-being Management System is a mature system with an excellent performance history. The global objectives are appropriate and there is adequate data available to indicate progress toward meeting these objectives. .... The management system is strongly centralized and with well defined processes."
Atul Puri , Vice President of Bureau Veritas Certification North America Inc.
The management system is implemented throughout all of IBM's business units worldwide via a tiered structure; the top tier consisting of activities carried out globally, linked to a second tier organized by geographical unit, location or business line. The WBMS ensures that performance improvement is linked to evolving business priorities while enabling continual improvement in employee health and well-being, and control of health and safety risks that can impact business operations. Each year a strategic planning process considers new global objectives, which are then translated into relevant initiatives with the flexibility to accommodate unique well-being and safety requirements at a local level. The system is regularly reviewed for efficacy, efficiency and consistency, with input from management, employees, and other external reviewers.
Recognition of Excellence: OHSAS 18001 Certification
External certification of IBM's WBMS has been beneficial in improving the quality and consistency of global implementation. It has also enabled IBM to fulfill marketplace demands and foster business opportunity, because the company is more readily able to demonstrate its standardized approach to managing employee well-being to clients and potential customers. In addition, certification aligns with IBM's priority to accelerate global integration via recognized management systems.
In 2007, Bureau Veritas Certification North America, Inc. audited IBM’s Well-being Management System (WBMS) and certified that it conforms with the requirements of the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment Series (OHSAS) — Standard 18001:2007. This international standard defines requirements for health and safety management systems. IBM is one of the largest organizations to have obtained OHSAS 18001 certification. Formal surveillance audits have since been carried out by Bureau Veritas during 2008 and 2009, on both occasions re-affirming IBM's continuing adherence to the requirements of the standard.
Global Workplace Safety
IBM's commitment to workplace safety was first formalized decades ago. Today, our safety record is among the best in the industry. Having moved beyond compliance, IBM has implemented best practices in health and safety management globally to prevent work-related injuries and illnesses for our employees.
The importance we place in these efforts demonstrates our commitment to employees, customers and business partners. Yearly updates and accomplishments, including awards and certifications, are maintained in the IBM Corporate Responsibility Report. This information can be found in the IBMer - Employee Well Being section of IBM's Corporate Responsibility Reports; as well as key performance indicators (KPIs) in the Performance Summary section.
IBM’s Culture of Health
IBM has long understood that investing in prevention and well-being makes sense for both its employees and its business. IBM's goal of building and maintaining a healthy global workforce is contingent upon the personal health and resilience of our employees. IBMers who are healthy, mentally resilient and physically fit tend to experience better quality of life and higher personal productivity, and those who discover health problems early tend to get well faster and spend less on medical care.
Strategic use of technology and creative approaches to program delivery and communications are central to engaging IBM’s increasingly dispersed global employee population. IBM employees have on-demand access to health risk assessment tools and professional guidance to assist them in developing personal health improvement plans.
"IBM strives to provide a “culture of health” that assumes healthy living as a company norm, where employees are encouraged and supported to maintain healthy behaviors and be smart healthcare consumers. This culture of health is critical to our competitiveness and leadership, and relies on the commitment of every IBM employee."
Martín J. Sepúlveda, M.D. FACP, IBM Fellow, Vice President Integrated Health Services
In many countries, a Web-based platform is the locus for employee engagement in health improvement, providing on-demand access to flexible, behavior-based programming that:
The company’s global healthcare strategy is based on the following principles:
- Drive value of IBM and employee investments through an emphasis on quality of care delivered, as well as cost.
- Provide flexibility to IBM, employees, and retirees.
- Promote prevention, healthy lifestyle choices, comprehensive primary care, and informed decision-making.
- Protect personal health information and support its responsible usage.
- Enable efficient utilization of healthcare by increasing visibility of practitioner performance and actual costs — and implementing cost sharing approaches that are sustainable.
- Advance creation of interoperable health information networks, and adoption and responsible use of Health Information Technology in personal health management, clinical practice and administration.
Global Wellness Initiatives
At IBM, our strategy is to challenge employees to become active and informed participants in their own health. IBM’s extensive portfolio of global wellness offerings provides our employees with health-related information and the tools to help them achieve their highest potential at work, home and the communities in which they live.
Our global strategy for improving the health of IBMers, while keeping costs in check, has four core elements:
IBM places specific focus on helping the global workforce:
Examples of Wellness Initiatives Around The World
The two-year Seven Habits of Highly Healthy People campaign began in 2009 by focusing on Balanced Nutrition, Physical activity and Preventive Health Services across Latin America. The objective of the program is to provide the education and tools for employees to make personal wellbeing improvements.
Physical activity was promoted through a Run-Walk initiative, drawing a 50 percent participation rate.
The ACTIVATE initiative combined various physical activities to promote improved personal wellness: active pauses three times per day, dancing, pilates, aerobics, swimming, tennis, ping pong, etc. With the exception of swimming, all of the activities were provided at IBM Facilities.
In 2009, Venezuela launched the Dancing Therapy initiative and pilates classes.
In Colombia, the Physical Activity program was incorporated into the Week of Health initiative. Over 450 anthropometric analyses were conducted on employees, combined with stretching sessions, pilates, body flow and yoga activities.
The Running Team initiative was developed to promote employee participation in outdoor physical activities.
Preventive Services was launched in order to focus on healthy ergonomic practices. Employees were involved in active stretching and relaxing exercises to promote improved personal ergonomic wellness. In addition, on a weekly basis, over 400 employees exercised in a gym to increase personal wellbeing.
IBM Malaysia continued focus on preventive health (vaccinations and immunizations) in addition to wellness education to raise awareness for Dengue fever, How to Beat “Burn Out”, Care and Joy at Work, Key to Wellness and First Aid.
The Greater China Group-wide Blue Care campaign was launched for employees to improve physical and mental health, but also cultivate greater enjoyment in life and work.
The Quit Smoking for Life campaign drew over 1,000 participants and included the 'Petit Quitting' course (one to seven days to quitting) in addition to a course for heavy smokers.
In addition to the focus on reducing smoking habits, an annual medical examination including test items for metabolic risk factors was conducted with a 97 percent employee participation rate.
IBM healthy eating programs educated employees on healthy eating habits and provided nutritional counseling by a dietician, including special diet menus. IBM also delivered a physical fitness program called Active for Life in association with American Cancer Society. This was a 10-week goal-oriented and team-based program to enhance physical activity levels. Women Well-being programs were held across multiple IBM locations as a part of a Woman’s Day celebration. The program focused on educating women employees about work/life balance, nutrition, physical health, reproductive health, and cancer awareness.
Ongoing well-being health promotion programs includ health screenings, fitness assessments, health talks, physical fitness classes, fruit bazaars and healthier choice education.
Russia/Czech Republic and Hungary
IBM Integrated Health Services partnered with an external vendor to implement the Pathway to Resilience tool as the next step in stress management services.
IBMers in France focused on stress management, at the individual and organizational levels. This strategy aimed at providing structured evaluations, monitoring and improvement action plans.
Integrated Health Services successfully recruited teams for various company running events. In Stuttgart, the IBM team consisted of 300 runners. IBM employees in all major German locations took part in a free treadmill analysis to have their running style evaluated. Employees tried out various running shoes and received expert advice on running in general.
IBMers in Italy launched a wellbeing campaign focusing on metabolic syndrome prevention, targeted at the detection of the personal risk factors for developing diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
The Physical Activity Flex Credit program rewards employees through a financial incentive for performing regular physical activity. Physical activity is further supported through an online circuit training program called GetFit@home, a Web-based tool which promotes physical activity in the home. The Wellness Assessments financial incentive is also available to employees for completion of an online health questionnaire. A health status report is provided which includes specific areas of health risk and recommendations regarding how to improve those risk areas.
The highly-recognized IBM Healthy Living Rebate programs offer financial incentives each year to employees who focus on such areas as physical activity, healthy eating, weight management, clinical preventive care, and children’s health. For example, IBM’s Children’s Health Rebate program is a unique, action-oriented program designed to help parents support children in maintaining a healthy weight. Over 20,000 families have elected to participate in each of its three years and have consistently reported improvements in family eating and meal habits, physical activity, and parental role modeling.
Healthcare Reform & IBM
In addition to global involvement in healthcare initiatives and programs, IBM is driving improved quality in the healthcare system in the United States through active involvement and public policy dialogue with physician and industry groups and alliances.
The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative
In 2005, IBM began to question the very foundation of the healthcare it buys and reached a significant conclusion: when compared to other industrialized countries, the healthcare “system” in the United States fails to deliver comprehensive primary care, partly because of the way that care is financed. In spite of rising expenditures, the U.S. healthcare system is plagued by well-documented quality issues that contribute to rising costs. Poor quality care accounts for significant heathcare expenses. For IBM, this figure could reach hundreds of millions of dollars annually as a result of poor quality of care, waste and inefficiencies.
The concept of a medical home was first introduced by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1967. At that time, the goal was to provide a specific place for children to receive care. During the past several years, however, this model has been evolving into a system for providing continuous comprehensive care for all age groups. Studies from all over the world have validated the importance of such patient-centric primary care, especially when it is continually updated through electronic medical records, email consultations, e-prescribing, and e-tools, all of which help to enhance clinical decision-making with evidence-based guidelines.
It is believed that such a model can ultimately lead to better medical care for patients and lower overall cost. IBM has been leading the way toward such a shift in healthcare reform, which has now become a national movement that is driving the transformation in healthcare delivery. The goal is the establishment of a "medical home" for every patient, centered on strong patient-physician relationships and comprehensive primary care.
IBM's initiative and work with primary care physician groups led to the formation of the Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative (PCPCC) in 2006. PCPCC membership includes most of the major primary care physician associations, large national employers, health benefits companies, trade associations, profession/affinity groups, academic centers and healthcare quality improvement associations. In all, the collaborative represents more than 50 million Americans.
The PCPCC has created an open forum where healthcare stakeholders freely communicate and work together to improve the future of the American medical system. The Collaborative has developed model language for inclusion in health reform proposals to include the Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) concept. It also acts as a key source for the continued education of congressional representatives, federal and state governments, and individual practices on the PCMH model as a superior form of healthcare delivery. (Source: www.pcpcc.net)
Medical Home Pilots
According to Martín J. Sepúlveda, M.D. FACP, IBM Fellow, Vice President Integrated Health Services, “reducing the reliance on fragmented specialty care with a strong foundation of comprehensive primary care is a national reform imperative. IBM is leading the way with this primary care transformation initiative, and others are engaging as well with ‘medical home’ pilots throughout the country.” Pilot programs are already proving that the concept works and that healthcare delivery can be enhanced as the patient-physician relationship is strengthened and practices are transformed in order to provide whole-person, comprehensive primary care.
The PCMH Demonstration Program in Arizona is one such pilot which seeks to demonstrate the value of this model. A significant population of IBM employees and their families are covered in the Arizona system, which results in even more meaningful participation for our organization. The emphasis of this pilot is on disease prevention and improving the quality of care for chronically ill patients. Many challenges face physicians as they implement the necessary practice transformation initiatives, including changes in administrative services, clinical care processes, care coordination systems and information management, such as electronic record keeping and prescribing. IBM is collaborating with the medical community and working to support physicians as they convert their traditional practices into “medical homes” and participate in the reformation of how primary care is structured, practiced and delivered in the United States.
Improving Quality in the Healthcare System
IBM is at the forefront of a national movement to transform healthcare and encourage widespread adoption of electronic health records. A few of IBM’s initiatives are discussed below.
The Taconic Health Information Network and Community (THINC) is a Health Information Technology HIT initiative dedicated to improving the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare for the benefit of people in the Hudson Valley region of New York. The primary purpose of THINC is to advance the use of health information technology through the adoption of a secure Health Information Exchange and interoperable electronic health records. IBM has approximately 64K employees, retirees and dependents in the region that stand to benefit from this effort.
Another community project in which IBM is involved is the North Carolina Health Care Information and Communication Alliance (NCHICA). This is in the North Carolina counties of Durham, Orange and Wake. The first phase of the NCHICA project in 2005 was electronic medication management. Participating physicians are able to compile medication histories for their patients and also have electronic prescribing, automated refills and access to the formularies for each of the health plans. Laboratory and imaging data are current loci of NCHICA efforts. Medication error reduction, elimination of duplicate testing and timely access to imaging and lab data are benefits from this HIT project.
In today's competitive business environment, employees seek jobs that offer financial security, autonomy, meaning and the opportunity for development and advancement. Employees also want time to pursue personal interests and enjoy time outside of the workplace. Responding to these needs is nothing new for IBM. We’re committed to creating a supportive, flexible work environment while providing benefits and services that help IBMers in their lives outside of work.
More than two decades ago, IBM launched the first national corporate child care initiative that evolved into a five-year, $25 million IBM Funds for Dependent Care Initiative to help employees manage their work and personal responsibilities. In 2001, the company created the Global Work/Life Fund with a five-year, $50 million commitment – the first fund of its kind to address employee work/life issues on a global basis. The fund is now active in 42 countries and has a continued focus on increasing the supply and improving the quality of dependent care in communities where IBMers work and live. It provides a full range of dependent care services for young children, school-age children, elders, and employees themselves who are caregivers of children and elders. Since 1983, IBM has committed more than $263 million to dependent care programs and services around the world, and it is frequently recognized by non-governmental organizations, public institutions, and business publications for its commitment to helping employees manage work/life issues.
IBM is committed to creating a supportive, flexible work environment that gives employees more control over their work as an important means to achieve greater work/life balance and enhanced productivity. Employees have said that balancing their responsibilities for work, family, education and other commitments is becoming increasingly difficult under traditional work schedules. Their ability to address work and family is a critical factor in their decision to stay with IBM.
To address these employee and business needs, IBM has developed six flexibility principles:
- The enterprise doesn't stop: In a globally integrated enterprise, the enterprise never stops working. Somewhere in the world, IBMers are working on solutions for our clients. That does not mean all employees work 24/7 and 365 days a year.
- Balancing of needs: Flexibility encompasses how, where and when work gets done. IBM is committed to providing its employees the greatest degree of flexibility while balancing the needs of our clients, our business, our teams and individual IBM employees.
- Trust and personal responsibility: Consistent with our core value of “trust and personal responsibility in all relationships,” IBM expects managers and employees to make decisions, including those about flexibility options, consistent with this value and to demonstrate personal responsibility to ensure business commitments.
- Range of options: Flexible work options are a vehicle for IBM to meet the needs of our global clients and can be employee or management initiated. However, all options must be management approved. Open dialog is important to understand and secure support for the most flexible option, which may include varied work times, part-time, job-share, work from home, etc, depending on the needs of the business division, client or individual employee.
- Understanding differences: Operating effectively in the “new world of work”, and in a globally integrated enterprise, requires sensitivity to a broad range of differences. This requires every IBMer to exercise care and judgment to consider the needs of our global stakeholders — clients, colleagues, and the communities in which we operate. Each of us must take responsibility to explore, understand and reflect differences in culture, customs, time of day, holidays, language, business requirements, the personal needs of stakeholders and the impact of our decisions on business dealings. Careful inquiry and dialog is required as is the need to adapt and be flexible, as appropriate, to best meet the needs of everyone concerned: business, clients and employees.Learn more about IBM diversity.
- Focus on results: Work is something you do, not a place you go. Focus on results, setting goals and measuring performance. The new world of work provides an opportunity for an outstanding experience for IBM employees and clients alike.