New research suggests that Americans largely support the private sector being involved in efforts to support community health, going beyond workplace wellness.
The latest Morning Consult poll commissioned by the de Beaumont Foundation shows that most U.S. adults view businesses as important and influential to the health of communities, and believe that businesses should have an even greater stake in advancing community health and well-being.
According to the new poll, two-thirds (66%) of adults say that businesses are influential in improving economic realities for Americans and in improving the health and well-being of their communities (66%).
Specifically, U.S. adults say that the most important ways that businesses can invest in community health are to:
- Take care of their employees
- Provide health care benefits and access
- Financially contribute to and engage in the community
Further, 85% of Americans say that businesses are responsible for the health and well-being of their employees, including 61% who say they have a lot of responsibility.
Health Over Politics
Not only do almost three-quarters of respondents say that businesses should have a role in improving Americans’ economic realities (73%) as well as communities’ health and well-being (73%), but they also want businesses to be more influential than they currently are in achieving these goals.
However, Americans are conflicted about businesses being politically active. Fifty-two percent of adults say that businesses generally should not get involved in political or social issues. The same percentage also believes that businesses currently have too much influence in getting legislation passed. Although respondents were split in opinion on companies engaging in political and social activism, they generally saw corporate social responsibility (CSR) as a boon to business — more than two-thirds (69%) of respondents say it is important that the businesses they purchase from engage in CSR practices.
These findings suggest that Americans do not view health — and the private sector’s efforts to advance health and well-being — as political.
From Workplace Health to Community Health
The poll results reflect a trend toward businesses investing in the communities where employees and their families live, not only their workplaces. Through initiatives at the intersection of business and public health, de Beaumont aims to help the private sector move further upstream to address community health outcomes.
For example, we are a founding partner of the Health Action Alliance (HAA), a group of leading business, public health, and communications organizations working together to improve the health of communities nationwide. Its initiatives focus on COVID-19, workplace mental health, pandemic preparedness and community health, and HIV.
In an op-ed for Forbes.com, leaders of three founding HAA partners called upon businesses to reconsider the concept of employee health, writing, “Focusing on individual employees’ health needs can only go so far. Employers must also look outside the worksite to secure the health of their employees, surrounding community, and their business.”
Collaboration between business and public health is also critical to improving the health of communities. In 2022, we launched Innovative, Multi-sector Partnerships for Community Transformation (IMPACT) in Public Health to support public-private partnerships aimed at strengthening economic prosperity by advancing public health and health equity. In one such partnership, San Juan Basin Public Health in Colorado is working with Cottonwood Rehabilitation and Healthcare and local business coalitions to address residents’ exposure to unhealthy air and extreme heat events.
“The COVID-19 pandemic showed us that community health and economic well-being are inextricably linked,” said de Beaumont president and CEO Brian C. Castrucci, DrPH, in a news release announcing the selected communities. “Businesses need healthy employees, consumers, and partners, and communities need job opportunities, stability, and equitable economic prosperity to ensure that all people can achieve their best possible health.”
The poll was conducted Dec. 8-13, 2022, among a sample of 2,198 adults. The interviews were conducted online, and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of adults based on gender, age, race, educational attainment, and region. Results from the full survey have a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.