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Why Should Employers Invest in Their Employees’ Health and Wellness?

A workplace wellness program can be highly beneficial to the employer by potentially reducing healthcare costs, decreasing absent days taken by employees, and increasing productivity while at work. 

In order to increase productivity, reduce absenteeism, and decrease healthcare costs, it is necessary for employers to spend resources to improve employee health and wellness. In one study, 67% of employers named employee poor health habits as one of the leading challenges in maintaining affordable health coverage. Those employers who implemented wellness programs expressed overwhelming confidence that wellness programs improved their business in regard to cost, absenteeism, and presenteeism. On average, the financial benefits ratio is 6:1. That is, for every $1 spent on an effective employee wellness program, $6 were saved. Direct medical costs were reduced by $3.27, where absenteeism costs fell by $2.73 per dollar. 

What makes an effective wellness program?

  • Multilevel leadership: persuasive, passionate, and persistent leadership should take place at all levels in order to create a culture that inspires and encourages health
  • Alignment: The identity and aspirations of a business should naturally extend into the goals of a wellness program. The focus of the program should match the mission of the business.
  • Scope, relevance, and quality: to be successful, a workplace wellness program should be comprehensive, engaging, and excellent
  • Accessibility: low or no-cost service is priority-convenience matters!
  • Partnerships: creating and maintaining internal and external partners can increase desired enhancements and essential components of the wellness program
  • Communications: sensitivity, creativity, and media diversity can make all the difference in delivering the message and the mission
  • Activities: screening, primary/secondary prevention, and health promotion are all essential in effective wellness programs. 

Impact of Workplace Wellness:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is an epidemic of diseases caused by unhealthy lifestyles such as inactivity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and frequent alcohol consumption. These behaviors are leading causes for certain chronic diseases. Because most working people spend the majority of their waking hours in the workplace, that makes it a natural place for investments in health. A workplace wellness program can be highly beneficial to the employer by potentially reducing healthcare costs, decreasing absent days taken by employees, and increasing productivity while at work (presenteeism).

Sources:

Baicker, Katherine, David Cutler, and Zirui Song. “Workplace wellness programs can generate savings.” Health Affairs 29.2 (2010): 304-311.

Berry, Leonard, Ann M. Mirabito, and William Baun. “What’s the hard return on employee wellness programs?.” Harvard business review, December (2010): 2012-68.

Prasad, Manishi, et al. “A review of self-report instruments measuring health-related work productivity.” Pharmacoeconomics 22.4 (2004): 225-244.

Schultz, Alyssa B., and Dee W. Edington. “Employee health and presenteeism: a systematic review.” Journal of occupational rehabilitation 17.3 (2007): 547-579.

Mattke, Soeren, et al. “Workplace wellness programs study.” Rand health quarterly 3.2 (2013).

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Samantha Keeler is a recovery coach for Workit and passionate about employee wellness and behavioral addictions specifically regarding sexual health.

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