IBM has long understood that investing in a culture of health makes sense for both its employees and its business. Our commitment to employee health, well-being and safety dates to the early history of the company. IBM established a leadership position on workplace safety even before Thomas J. Watson Jr. issued our first formal policy in 1967. In 1932, Thomas J. Watson Sr., IBM’s first president and general manager, told the Third Annual Greater New York Safety Conference: “Safety is a matter of individual responsibility for each factory, for each establishment, for each president, for each executive, for each foreman and for each worker.”

Today, employee well-being continues to be incorporated into every aspect of IBM’s global business, from our strategic and business planning to operations, as reflected in our vision statement:

“Performance is optimized through healthy choices, people, workplaces, families and communities.”

Our work to realize this vision is guided by five mission statements:

  • Provide safe and healthy work environments.
  • Improve the overall health of our employees.
  • Design health benefits and health promotion programs to improve access, increase quality, reduce costs and drive innovation.
  • Support business continuity and results.
  • Address local and global health priorities.

Our goal of building and maintaining a healthy global workforce is contingent upon the personal health and resilience of IBMers. Employees who are safe, 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.

IBM’s Integrated Health Services organization — encompassing occupational health, industrial hygiene, safety, health benefits and wellness professionals — is responsible for implementing proactive, values-based practices, programs and policies that effectively manage the complex, diverse and ever-changing health and safety needs of IBMers worldwide.

Learn more about these award-winning offerings in our Corporate Responsibility Reports.

“A culture of health requires a fundamental commitment to its possibility – not just through a policy, but in every decision we make.”

- Lydia Campbell, M.D., M.P.H., Director, IBM Global Health Transformation, Strategy and Business Development

IBM’s Health and Safety Management System

First implemented in 1999, IBM's Health and Safety Management System (HSMS) 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 all aspects of IBM business worldwide. IBM's corporate policy, “Our Culture of Health,” is the cornerstone of IBM's HSMS, 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 that are integral to IBM business processes.

The management system is implemented throughout all of IBM's business units worldwide via a tiered structure — the top tier consists of activities carried out globally, linked to a second tier organized by geographical unit, location or business line. The HSMS ensures that performance improvement is linked to evolving business priorities while enabling continual improvement in employee health and well-being, as well as 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 distinct health 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 HSMS 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 2016, Bureau Veritas audited IBM’s HSMS 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 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 annual IBM Corporate Responsibility Report. This information can be found in the “IBMer” section under “Employee Well Being,” as well as key performance indicators in the “Performance Summary” section.

5 Dimensions of Health

IBM's “5 Dimensions of Health” affect the well-being of your body and mind, as well as your relationships with others. Leading a balanced life across all the dimensions of health promotes optimized wellness, because the five dimensions are interdependent.

  • Physical — Healthy recipes, or new ways to get and stay active.
  • Mind — Tools for reducing stress, improved cognition and relieved anxiety are a few ways you can invest in your mental health.
  • Financial — From retirement planning to investment tools and planning your future, these make life easier to manage.
  • Social — Balance work and life with family and friends, build healthier relationships or make new connections.
  • Purpose — Align values with your life and work.

Making healthy choices in each area is key and IBM supports employees and their families through various well-being offerings.