The following projects address some of the research questions that we have posed as part of our mission for NetPositive sustainability and health.
Health and Well-being as a Business Strategy
SHINE is seeking partners to explore the benefits of integrating health and well-being into the core of a company’s culture and operating system. This research reaches across the set of Four P’s: People, Place, Products, and Planet—the people companies employ and serve (customers), the experience of place (e.g., the workplace building and community), the safe and healthy use of company products and services, and the company’s responsible use of the planet’s natural resources. SHINE is aiming to define, measure, and evaluate corporate behavior and impact in these four areas. Our goal is to develop a strategy map for infusing health into the business, creating a handprint that makes life better for all stakeholders, and the business more profitable because of the strategy.
The Well-being Index (WBI)
SHINE partnered with Johnson & Johnson to develop metrics to investigate the employee health impacts of work. Over the past year, SHINE piloted the WBI tool with several pioneering companies to discover the connections between what employees do at work and how they regard their well-being and the organizational culture of health. The tool was meant as a key performance indicator for health impacts and a diagnostic for creating handprints (positive improvements in well-being). The WBI may help to standardize the metrics for business reporting on health impacts. In 2016, SHINE will be piloting the WBI in the supply chain, also for an apparel company. The goal is to determine the status of the quality of work life in factories for future impact assessment of various social programs in the developing world and to elevate well-being as a business strategy for suppliers. This work is expected to lead to a new understanding about ways to influence the sustainability of all companies and its suppliers by integrating evidence-based health and well-being standards.
Health as a Material Business Indicator
SHINE is working with the investor community to produce key performance indicators for evaluating the health and well-being impacts in responsible investment portfolios. Working with investor groups, SHINE will test whether conventional assumptions about proxy measures for a “healthy” company actually produce real health impacts. For example, we will evaluate whether generally accepted health performance indicators (such as the offering of health benefits and wellness programs) correspond to better financial performance and impact employee well-being. Up to this point, many of the indicators for socially responsible investing are assumed to be valid. The knowledge gap is whether these programs actually deliver value or benefit.
Building out the NetPositive Framework
Working with several companies and NGO’s, SHINE is participating in co-creating and standardizing a holistic and unifying framework for the full spectrum of impact dimensions related to the health and well-being of people and the environment. Moreover, SHINE is working with pioneering companies to apply the framework as the basis for the business sustainability strategy—aiming to create more positive impacts than the size of the company footprint in each of these dimensions.
Handprints of Innovation
SHINE is working with its business partners to identify the positive impacts (handprints) of product-related innovation, and innovations in corporate operations. The goal is to develop a valid standard for assessing and reporting positive impacts that is consistent with the existing assessment and reporting of negative impacts (footprints), so that companies and other organizations can manage towards NetPositive impact.
Handprinting Case Studies
SHINE is working with companies and other academic researchers to apply and expand its handprinting and NetPositive assessment frameworks to cases of current research and policy interest. In one case, we are exploring the footprints and handprints of virtual classrooms and distance education compared with on-campus education. In another, we are examining the footprints and handprints of organic compared with conventionally produced foods.
If you would like to learn more, please contact Karoline Barwinski at KBarwin@hsph.harvard.edu.