Taking Population Health to Merck Employees - Good Health is Smart Business

Cathryn Gunther, assistant vice president, Global Population Health, Merck

Population Health is an approach that aims to materially improve the health of specific populations. At Merck, known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada, we apply population health principles to improve the health of our global workforce of more than 69,000 employees. In keeping with our company’s business mission to save and improve lives, we are committed to helping our employees be healthy and stay safe.

The classic definition of population health is:
“The health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group.”

At Merck, we know that good health goes beyond physical well-being to include emotional, social and financial well-being. Only when our employees feel at their best, in all aspects of their lives, can they perform at their best.

We provide employees with access to a wide variety of health services, programs, resources and tools to support their health and well-being. LIVE IT was introduced in the U.S. in Sept. 2011 to bring together the health and wellness offerings under one platform.

LIVE IT - A Holistic Approach to Wellbeing Designed by and for Merck Employees & Their Families

Our employees have used LIVE IT as a foundation for building a local culture of well-being. In Canada, for example, we demonstrated improvements in biometrics, fitness and emotional health, accompanied by fewer self-reported absences. LIVE IT has launched to 53,000 employees in 40 countries, representing over 75 percent of the workforce.

At Merck, we define a culture of well-being as a deliberate and resourced effort to establish a workforce culture that promotes health, wellness and safety and is focused on creating healthy daily habits. It embeds health and safety into the daily fabric of the workplace. We recognize that a sustainable culture of health requires strong leadership support, a grass-roots champion network (dedicated and passionate employee volunteers), a workplace environment that supports healthful decision-making and a strong and lasting commitment to market the value of being well within and across the organization.

There are many benefits to this approach. First, the health and well-being of our workforce have a direct link to optimal employee performance. Whether work is done at the office or at home, sickness, injury and stress can affect a person’s ability to perform and contribute effectively.

Second, there is increasing evidence that a healthy and safe workforce can provide a competitive advantage in the marketplace. Merck has an opportunity to be an example for other companies by sharing learnings, best practices and evidence that supports the hypothesis that good health is smart business. We also believe that a constructive approach to our employees' health and overall well-being helps to recruit and retain top and diverse talent. Aspiring to play a leadership role, Merck is leveraging internal assets and external expertise to promote health and build a corporate culture of health.

Because at Merck we are inventing for life to promote optimal health, we must lead by example. We must be healthy ourselves to do the important work of saving and improving the lives of others.

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