HealthLead is first accreditation for healthy workplaces

A new rating system launched yesterday is designed to help businesses and organizations improve employee health.

Unveiled during a forum at The Ohio State University, HealthLead is modeled on LEED certification for green buildings, which has helped make environmental sustainability a business priority.

“The HealthLead accreditation process provides organizations with an objective lens to examine current health management and well-being practices,” says Nick Baird, CEO of US Healthiest, a nonprofit, public-private collaboration co-founded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state and local public health organizations.

“It provides new insights into making value-based investment decisions that add to businesses’ bottom lines while protecting, supporting and engaging their number one asset– their people,” he adds.

HealthLead provides independent, third party verification that an employer meets high standards for a culture, environment, policies, benefits and programs that support employee well being.

To develop the HealthLead accreditation criteria, US Healthiest convened an independent panel of experts, including scholars, business and nonprofit managers, and public health experts.  The standards are based on public health and worksite health promotion research and best practices.

Thirteen employers pilot tested the criteria and application and evaluation processes. US Healthiest used feedback from the employers to make the application process more user-friendly. Employers of all sizes and sectors will be able to apply for HealthLead accreditation beginning July 2.

HealthLead-accredited employers range from Fortune 500s to companies with fewer than 100 workers and include several Columbus-based organizations, such as OhioHealth, Worthington Industries, and OSU.

“The accreditation process validated areas in which we currently excel, including proactively engaging faculty and staff in their own health awareness,” says Kathleen McCutcheon, vice president and chief human resources officer at OSU. “We will continue to leverage our resources and expertise across our medical center, health plan, and university functions to become the healthiest university on the globe.”

As HealthLead for the workplace goes live, OSU and US Healthiest plan to collaborate on the development of a health and wellness assessment for institutions of higher education, which will lead to a version of HealthLead accreditation for colleges and universities.

To learn more about HealthLead, visit

To learn about what small businesses can do to create healthier employees, as well as new tax credits and other programs available to them under the Affordable Care Act, check out this report by Partnership for Prevention, a bipartisan health policy organization.