Unifying employee health across borders and cultures — going global part 1 of 3

employee health across borders

Going global — part 1

Once focused almost exclusively on accident prevention, workforce wellness has expanded to include holistic concepts in the physical, psychological, and social well-being of employees.


Coupled with this shift comes the transition from a local or domestic employee base to a global workforce, adding a separate set of challenges. Naina Lal Kidwai, Chairperson of India’s National Committee on Population and Health, notes, “While there are a few basic guidelines that every organization needs to follow, the concept of an ideal workplace will differ from industry to industry and company to company. A healthy workplace strategy must be designed to fit the unique history, culture, market conditions, and employee characteristics of individual organizations.” 


Taking a program international is a daunting endeavor. Employers need IT partners with global capabilities who can integrate data across different vendors and geographies — and adapt and configure a system for diverse cultural and legal requirements. Despite the growing demand, partners with that level of expertise are few and far between.

The good news is, you only need one — and we’re raising our hand.


Sharing lessons learned from successful Enterprise Health clients

Today, our Enterprise Health solution is used in more than 50 countries on 6 continents and in 9 languages. We’re supporting employees on off-shore oil rigs and cruise ships, on military assignments, and in remote areas of eastern Africa — all using a single, integrated solution.


As our clients and implementations have grown, we’ve documented our experiences and used the resulting insight to craft a step-by-step process for cross-country standardization. In other words, how to take an existing domestic program global.


Lesson 1: Find the lowest-hanging fruit

Desire and cooperation go hand in hand. Choose your first implementation carefully, and look for the surest path to success.


  • Size up staff and leadership at the local site — are they willing and enthusiastic? All the better for a smooth implementation.
  • Also consider the number of employees served at the site, the efficiency (or inefficiency) of current systems, cost of implementation and anticipated growth at the site.
  • Watch out for legal complications. Easily the most complex and time-consuming part of the process. The legal review for international locations must address government regulations, occupational health requirements, and appropriate systems for implementing corporate standards at local clinic sites. Data privacy and medical confidentiality requirements should be a focus of the review.

Lesson 2: Keep teams lean and local

The local clinics are where the “rubber meets the road” in global expansion. While a corporate team will already be at work, the team will not be complete until local representatives have been invited and integrated for critical roles throughout implementation and beyond.


  • Keep the numbers low. Ideally 6-10. Smaller groups are more accessible and nimble.
  • Choose cross-functional members, representing clinical, operational, legal, and administrative roles.
  • Include multilingual team members at the local level to assist in translation, training, and troubleshooting.
  • Recruit members for ongoing roles as liaisons between the clinic and the system administrator at the corporate office.

Lesson 3: Leverage technology to work across time zones

Working across global geographies isn’t the only challenge in getting teams together for scheduled work sessions. Time, frequency, technology and session length all impact how effective — or ineffective — team meetings will be.


  • Use company-approved technology for phone/internet/video conferencing.
  • Choose consistent meeting days/times to reduce absenteeism.
  • Determine frequency of meetings based on availability and time required to complete action items. Consider team members’ other responsibilities.
  • Limit meetings to 90 minutes, especially when translation is required.

Next time: Going global — part 2. We’ll discuss project scoping, communications, and the single most important tool for implementing a global employee health program.


Until then, we’ll leave you with this…


 “Employee health is so inextricably linked to an organization’s performance that its impact cannot be ignored. Simply put, employee health and well-being can be an asset or an impediment to organizational performance.”


Workplace Wellness Alliance Report


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