Tag: Executive Education

How do employee wellness programs affect employee productivity? Is it possible to do a job better as a result of feeling better on the job? New research from Olin associate professor of organization and strategy Lamar Pierce seeks to answer those questions.

A study currently under review and co-authored by Pierce empirically tested how employee wellness programs affect worker productivity. The research paired individual medical data from employees taking part in a work-based wellness program to their productivity rates over time.

“When you give people the tools and the opportunity to be physically and mentally healthier, it’s not just that they’re more likely to be at work,” said Lamar Pierce, associate professor of organization and strategy at Olin Business School. “Those employees are also more likely to be productive.”

Nearly 90 percent of companies in the United States use some form of employee wellness program – from gym memberships to health screenings to flu shots – all designed to improve health. Yet past research mostly measured cost benefits for companies via lower insurance and absentee rates.

Pierce and co-authors Timothy Gubler, assistant professor of management at the University of California-Riverside, and Ian Larkin, assistant professor of strategy at the Andersen School of Management at UCLA, used data from an industrial laundry company that provides a free, voluntary wellness program each year to its employees.

They utilized a three-year panel of medical data for 111 employees and compared them to their work performances, which were accurately measurable by the number of pieces or tasks completed in a factory setting. The researchers also used self-reported data from the employees, as well as evaluations from physicians who examined each employee’s medical progress as the program continued. All information was kept confidential and anonymous.

“What it allowed us to see were the changes in their actual productivity, as a function not only of participation but of their existing health conditions and their improvements in health conditions and other lifestyle factors,” Pierce said. “Conditions included obesity, diabetes, cholesterol, heart conditions, and also a number of self-reported behaviors that they gave us on diet, exercise, anxiety, depression.”

The researchers compared data for employees that participated in the health plan to employees at the same company who opted out of the program or were in plants that weren’t offered the full program. The results were striking and significant: the researchers found wellness programs boosted employees’ health and productivity: Productivity jumped by 5-11 percent compared to those that didn’t participate in the program. When further quantified, that figure equaled a whopping 528 percent return on investment for the company after introducing its wellness program.

“The value of these programs is being undercounted,” Pierce said. “The gains to productivity might vary across jobs, tasks and employees, but they are very real. Our results show gains just simply from participation. We can see somebody who participates and doesn’t get better, and those people still seem to get more productive.

“The biggest gains are to people who not only participated but, that also improve their health,” he said. “There are multiple mechanisms through which productivity improves from the program, and they each accumulate on top of one another.”

Pierce offers a caveat to companies who might be interested in putting an employee wellness program into place and practice. There are definite factors that can make or break the program and the resulting ROI. Employee buy-in is a must.

“The company we studied didn’t try to force people into doing this, they respected their privacy and they have a long relationship and tradition of treating their employees with respect and maintaining that trust,” Pierce said. “So they could tell their employees, ‘Look, we’re offering this. You can do this, it’s free choice, we respect your privacy,’ and their employees believed them.”

Three Executive MBA students from Olin’s joint program with Fudan University in Shanghai spent a week in St. Louis this month to attend the EMBA Leadership Residency with students from the St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver cohorts. Grace Zhou, Class 11, is Head of Reward and Benefits – Asia Pacific at Johnson Matthey in Shanghai; Thomas Cheong, Class 10, Vice President, Asia North Principal International in Hong Kong; and Michelle Cheng, Class 7, HR Business Partner GN Store Nord, based in Ballerup, Denmark.

Executive MBA students are required to attend four week-long “residencies” during their program that focus on different topics. The Leadership Residency – which occurs midway through the program – includes modules on formal and informal leadership.

Shanghai emba in STL

Michelle Cheng visits the Ding, a gift from the EMBA-Shanghai Class 1.

A section on creative thinking enhances your ability to generate strong ideas, the building blocks of innovation, growth, and entrepreneurship. Classmates brainstorm concepts for new companies, products, and services in preparation for an innovation project.

The EMBA program provides one of the most academically comprehensive curricula in the country, with 60 credit hours required for graduation. Courses, themes, and residencies focus on leadership development.

The Executive MBA curriculum includes four required residencies: the GO! Week Residency; the Business of Policy: DC Immersion; the Leadership Residency; and the International Management Residency in Beijing and Shanghai.





Students in EMBA Class 47 spent their Leadership Residency week in St. Louis meeting with top execs in different fields to discuss current business issues across a wide range of topics.  Human resources was the topic of a panel discussion that included guests from leading companies. Vikki Schiff, Vice President of Human Resources for Ball Aerospace & Technologies, Carra Simmons, Vice President of Learning and Development at State Farm, Ray Kleeman, Vice President of Human Resources at Monsanto, and Wendy Livingston, Vice President of Talent & Leadership at Boeing participated in the evening dialogue, sharing their extensive knowledge of HR with the EMBA 47 cohort.

Wendy Livingston answers a student question as part of the EMBA Leadership Development Panel.

Wendy Livingston answers a student question as part of the EMBA Leadership Development Panel.

The panel was convened to bring real world solutions into the academic setting, and the student questions reflected the students’ immediate learning. One student posed the question based on an earlier classroom discussion, “How do we acquire and keep talent when the talent pool is shrinking?”

Livingston answered, “Be O.K. with people leaving, but on good enough terms that they want to come back later.”

Students also wanted to know to what these executives attribute their personal growth.

Carra Simmons

Carra Simmons

Simmons said, “throw me in a snake pit!” She believes that learning how to problem-solve has made the most impact on her personal growth.

Ray Kleeman

Ray Kleeman

Kleeman replied, “take a risk and bet on yourself, have a good network, and know your worth on the market.”

Livingston’s comments included “never saying no to a job. This makes people you work with very grateful. Know your worth. Know the business.” Then she commented on when mentoring, male mentors will talk about business and female mentors will talk about being aggressive or pursuing dreams. “I can watch TED talks for that!”

Vikki Schiff

Vikki Schiff

Some companies are using data analytics to determine potential leaders internally. Others are utilizing new self and departmental evaluations. Once a potential leader is determined, each company has its own method for developing their leaders, and these methods are continually being updated and challenged as the workforce changes.

Olin is grateful for friends like these who are willing to share their time and expertise to further our mission to create knowledge, inspire individuals, and transform business.


CATEGORY: Career, News

Executive MBA students in the second cohort of Olin and IIT-Bombay’s joint degree program were welcomed at the start of their program this month as tomorrow’s global leaders. Over 60 percent of the class are executives at the senior vice president level and higher. The 26 students have varied academic backgrounds and include an experienced surgeon and head of technology at Videocon Industries Ltd. The inaugural meeting of the new EMBA class was covered by The Hans India. Link here for complete article.

WashU’s Chancellor Mark Wrighton welcomed the new class via video message. “You can learn from your teachers as well as from each other. Commitment is an important dimension of success,” Wrighton said.

Kiran Shesh, CEO of IITB-WUStL Research and Educational Academy said, “These students bring a depth of experience from a diverse set of industries to march ahead towards preparing themselves as the global leaders.”

“The joint global degree is meant to equip executives with the tools, education and confidence to work in any industry in any part of the world as leaders in the new landscape of economic development. This also enables them to apply the concepts they learn while taking the course and know its impact in real-time,” pointed Prof. S. Bhargava, Head of Shailesh J. Mehta School of Management at IIT Bombay.

Link to more information on the EMBA-Mumbai program.


Time for Change: Career Transition

Being intentional in your career transition is, in my mind, the most overlooked “step” in successfully going from A to B. If you Google “intentional career transition,” what are the results? (Because face it, everything these days starts with a Google search, right?) I found a few websites for services to help with career transitions; however, the number of references were fewer than I expected. When I Googled “steps for a career transition,” I hit the jackpot. On the first page alone there were sites or articles that listed as few as five steps or up to 10. Most of the steps are very tactical: “Put together a resume” or “Update your LinkedIn profile.” All good advice, but I am going to talk about a more strategic step.

I believe the first step is to be intentional. Being intentional when you decide to venture into something new is along the same lines as putting together a solid project plan when you are about to implement new software or develop a new marketing campaign. The project plan documents your intentions. Documenting your intentions in your career is not really all that different.

When documenting your intentions, or your plan, you need to specify the five w’s – why, what, when, where, and who.

Why am I seeking a career transition?

You need to articulate why this change is occurring. Being very clear with why helps to make sure your plan is focused and leading to your desired end state. Without a clear understanding for why, then you may easily veer off into something interesting but not necessarily relevant. Ask yourself: Why now? Why something different?

What am I looking for in this career transition?

This is the big Kahuna of intentionality. This is where you get down to brass tacks on what exactly the plan is going to achieve. What is it that you are looking for in your next career or job? Can you define the characteristics, objectives, outcomes?

When will this transition take place?

Depending on when you are looking for a change, the actions you take to get there may be different. Timing is also partially dependent on what it is you are looking for in the future. If you are thinking the change should happen in six months there may be one set of actions to get there. If it is a longer-term plan (say 3 years) there is a totally different set of actions.

Where are you looking to go?

We are taking simple geography here. If you need to – or want to – only look in a particular part of the world then you need to be clear on that. Don’t waste your time looking in say, Australia, if that is simply not realistic. While the job down under sounds fun and exciting, if it really isn’t in the cards don’t put it in the plan. Being distracted during your intentional search will derail your progress.

Who will help you in this career transition?

This is where your network comes into play. You have a network, right? If not, you need one. (I feel another blog topic coming on!) Being intentional with who you want to connect with about your new career/job search will allow those connections to be meaningful and sincere. Again, it is about intentionality, the foundation for focus. Additionally, you don’t want to abuse your connections, and if you simply randomly tap into your network you could wind up alienating them and doing more harm than good.

Being intentional is hard. I know–I have been there myself. Determining the 5 W’s for my own career transitions laid the foundation for all the changes I made. Some of my transitions were made in six months, some in three years. Whatever my time frame was, I approached it intentionally. I can help you do the same.

This post originally appeared on LMHAdvisors. In addition to LMHAdvisors, Lisa Hebert serves as a Career Advisor specializing in supply chain, consulting, and Olin’s veteran student population.