Fourth Edition | January 2013

MHealthy Leadership Update Inside this issue: A word from Phil Hanlon | How are we doing? | Leadership and a culture of health | Goals
A word from Dr. Robert Winfield, Chief Health Officer and Director, University Health Service

""Our efforts to be a nationally recognized leader in workplace health culture are continuous and expanding under the MHealthy banner. A recent online Culture of Health Survey assessed U-M faculty’s and staff’s perception of the University’s workplace environment and culture in regards to supporting a healthy, high-performing workforce. Findings from this survey offer insight into how our MHealthy efforts are perceived by our University community and help us more clearly understand the critical role leaders at all levels play in ensuring that U-M has a culture where faculty and staff are encouraged and enabled to engage in healthy behaviors. We are making great strides, but there are also opportunities for improvement. Overall, we found that:

  • The majority of U-M staff are aware of and appreciative of the university's wellness programs and services.

  • Almost 50% of U-M faculty and staff feel the work environment enables them to maintain good health (but stress is an issue).

  • U-M faculty and staff perceive senior leaders as supportive, but confirm the need for improved supervisor support.

  • U-M faculty are less aware and rate our health culture lower than staff.

  • U-M faculty and staff feel that inclusion of spouses/partners is important.

I encourage you to read this report and reflect on what you can do to strengthen our foundation for a culture of health.

A recent online survey conducted by the U-M Health Management Research Center of 635 faculty and 1,946 staff members aimed to assess the perception of U-M’s workplace environment and culture in regards to supporting a healthy, high-performing workforce.

The survey measured two areas, “perception of environmental support” and “perception of cultural support.”

ENVIRONMENTAL SUPPORT – the university scores in the “medium” range with opportunities for improvement:

  • Senior leadership: 81% of staff and 74% of faculty strongly agree/agree that senior leaders have a vision for supporting faculty and staff health and a majority recognize the integration of such strategies into the university’s business plan, but just 48% of staff and 38% of faculty agree that “senior leaders put resources into supporting health.”

  • Individual programs: U-M scored “high” with 88% of staff agreeing that U-M “offers employee health assessment services” and a high percentage recognizing that the university offers health educational services.

  • Incentives: Many employees agree that the university provides incentives for participating in health and wellness programs. Fewer agree that the university recognizes faculty and staff for practicing healthy behaviors.

  • When asked if overall, their work environment enabled them to maintain good health, 45.6% of faculty agreed and 50.5% of staff agreed.

CULTURAL SUPPORT – the university also scores in the “medium” range:

  • Supervisor support: Faculty and staff perceive that senior leaders communicate that employee health is important to the university’s success, but fewer agree that their immediate supervisors communicate that employee health is important. Scores for supervisor support were generally lower across the board for such things as promoting the use of health and wellness programs.

  • Co-worker social support: “Medium” scores resulted from faculty and staff perceptions of how co-workers show concern for each other’s health and whether co-workers encourage each other to take care of their health.

  • Role modeling: Faculty and staff both reported “medium” scores for how senior leaders and managers act as role models who practice healthy behaviors.

  • Values, Mood and Norms: U-M is rated at “medium” in all three areas in whether a culture of health is part of the core values, general attitude and day-to-day behavior at the university.

MHealthy will use the information as it refines its programs and helps units across all campuses foster a culture of health. For instance, the issue of stress continues to show up in surveys and feedback as a major concern, and we’ll soon launch a wide-ranging program called “MHealthy Thrive!” to help individuals and units. We also plan to do more with back care in 2013, another ongoing area of concern for faculty and staff.


Dr. Dee Edington, Emeritus Professor of Kinesiology and Founding Director of the U-M Health Management Research Center, recently spoke to the Business & Finance leadership team about the culture survey. He challenged all leaders to help the university reach and exceed its wellness goals and recommended that we follow the lead of safety and quality by integrating health into the environment and culture. Some key moments from his talk:

  • On rising health care costs: “It’s a serious threat to the university and we have to try to solve it. You can make a major difference. As leaders, that’s what you do, you solve problems. Encouraging employees to live healthier is not just something that’s nice to do; it’s something that has to be done.”

  • On leadership: “Who’s the leader who’s going to get you there? Are you interested or committed?”

  • On your faculty and staff: “Expect them to be healthy and create that expectation in your group.”

  • On communication: “We’ve got a problem in the perception of our culture. We need to do a better job of getting the news out on WHY we’re doing this.”

After Dr. Edington’s presentation, B&F leaders agreed that the three-year evaluation completed earlier this year showed important risk reductions in faculty and staff health and that all managers should examine how they can make workplace health a part of the culture of their teams.

  1. ""Identifying creative ways to continue to increase participation

  2. Building cultures of health at the work unit level through wellness champions and managers

  3. Targeting interventions to select "at risk" populations

  4. Effectively improving our stress/energy management at the individual, social and organizational levels

  5. Continuing to develop/improve policies, facilities and the environment to support health

  6. Engaging and impacting spouses and other qualified adults
A Word from Tim Slottow How Are We Doing? MHealthy's Three Year Evaluation Priorities for 2013 How Are We Doing? Leadership and a Culture of Health Goals