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Aetna (NYSE: AET) is one of the nation’s leading diversified health care benefits companies, serving an estimated 38.8 million people with information and resources to help them make better-informed decisions about their health care. Aetna offers a broad range of traditional, voluntary and consumer-directed health insurance products and related services, including medical, pharmacy, dental and behavioral health plans, medical management capabilities, Medicaid health care management services, workers’ compensation administrative services, and health information technology products and services. Aetna’s customers include employer groups, individuals, college students, part-time and hourly workers, health plans, health care providers, governmental units, government-sponsored plans, labor groups and expatriates. For more information about how Aetna is helping build a healthier world, see and follow @AetnaNews.

Core to this mission is Aetna’s belief that it is imperative for businesses to demonstrate their long-term value creation not only to their shareholders, but also to society at large. To accomplish this, the EPIC group reviewed hundreds of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and identified certain significant intangibles that help investors understand a company’s true value. Interacting with the full investment chain highlighted the importance of articulating the nonfinancial assets of a firm to investors in a standard, straightforward manner. For asset managers and asset owners to incorporate measures into their investment analyses, they need complete, consistent and comparable data to accurately value a company’s intangibles.

As part of Aetna’s involvement in this initiative, the company has increased dialogue among departments, including human resources, finance, investments and investor relations, about the importance of better articulating long-term value. This identified many activities that Aetna was already doing; however, the company realized that it wasn’t necessarily describing these activities as part of the company’s value. The findings from EPIC have been shared throughout the firm, and Aetna professionals will work to highlight these assets to their stakeholders.

The surface has just been scratched in terms of linking intangibles to long-term value. Aetna needs to continue working to identify intangibles and highlight those that are significant. Ideally, the momentum continues and goes beyond the preliminary findings, which include the five metrics categories related to talent.

An example of a human capital best practice that Aetna is currently incorporating for its employees is the well-being work the company is leading in collaboration with faculty at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. At Aetna, there is a lot of talk about building a healthier world. If the company is going to truly deliver on this mission, it needs to acknowledge that health is more than the absence of illness. It’s built through everyday habits and comprises many factors.

That’s why Aetna has entered into a five-year research collaboration with faculty at the Chan school to study the determinants of well-being and ways to help people thrive individually and collectively. When these drivers are understood, Aetna can better support those the company serves — beginning with its employees.

Many factors contribute to a person’s holistic well-being. Therefore, Aetna is redefining “well-being” and providing support to its employees across six interconnected dimensions:
  1. Physical health
  2. Emotional health
  3. Social connectedness
  4. Financial security
  5. Purpose
  6. Character strengths

Aetna is partnering with the Chan school to create a proprietary assessment that measures well-being across the six dimensions. This assessment will allow Aetna to understand and measure each employee’s well-being needs and provide individuals with personalized and confidential results. Also, it will enable the company to provide targeted and personal programs to enhance its employees’ collective well-being across each dimension. Using feedback from a select group of Aetna employees who will participate in a pilot of the assessment, Aetna will refine the program before rolling it out to a larger group of employees

Ultimately, each participant will receive personalized and confidential results after taking the assessment. These results will be used to create a holistic well-being improvement plan for each individual. All data will be shared between Aetna and Harvard, with no individually identifying information. Over time, the researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health will be able to draw new insights into the determinants of well-being, assess the effectiveness of various interventions and programs, and inform the development of new tools to promote well-being. The goal of the research is to study the determinants of well-being, correlations to population health and productivity, and ways to enhance total well-being.

“Individuals with a strong sense of wellbeing have been found to be healthier, happier and more productive; have lower health care costs and turnover rates; and perform at higher levels,” said Kay Mooney, Aetna’s Vice President of Employee Benefits & Well-being. “Through this new initiative, we will develop a customized approach for each individual, allowing us to join employees where they are on their personal well-being journeys.”