With a company purpose to “care and cure,” it’s natural that Novartis makes employee health a top priority. In 2011, the company launched Be Healthy, a global health and well-being initiative designed to support healthy lifestyles, share knowledge, and help reduce injury and risk of disease that can negatively impact people’s personal and professional lives. By the end of 2012, Be Healthy programs will have reached more than 95 percent of Novartis employees worldwide.

A voluntary, prevention-focused effort, Be Healthy has four pillars: Move (exercise), Choose (healthy eating), Know (awareness of key health indicators), and Manage (support for managing health at work). Through Be Healthy, employees have access to resources like sports clubs, healthy food options, and the support needed to succeed at work when coping with chronic illness or disability. The initiative also maintains an extensive website, including a newsletter, an app, and an employee blog. In a post about the Know pillar, an employee in Cairo wrote: “I just checked my key health numbers. It was quick and easy. I encourage everyone to take the chance to begin a new lifestyle.”

Each site in the Novartis network is free to tailor its Be Healthy activities to local interests and needs. Some sites have offered healthy cooking classes featuring local or even non-local specialties (such as sushi in Liverpool). Many have organized competitions, from charity runs and cricket matches to a “guess-the-calories” contest. “It was fantastic to run in the Novartis 5K with my eight-year-old daughter,” recalls an employee in East Hanover, New Jersey.

Just as the Olympics spur athletes from around the globe to realize their full potential, Be Healthy has inspired Novartis employees in more than 50 countries to come together and improve their health and well-being. In both, teamwork is as important as individual commitment, as highlighted by an employee in Mumbai after the Be Healthy roll-out: “Having smoked for more than 30 years before quitting, I have taken a vow to convert at least one smoker to a non-smoker by year-end.”