The Fruits of Cor­po­rate Well­ness

We find that work­place well­ness pro­grams have emerged as a com­mon em­ployer-spon­sored ben­e­fit that is now avail­able at about 50 per­cent of U.S. com­pa­nies. In spite of grow­ing pop­u­lar­ity among com­pa­nies, the im­pact of cor­po­rate well­ness are rarely eval­u­ated

The HR Digest - - Content Features -

Over the last few decade, the epi­demic of life­style dis­eases is soar­ing in the U.S. Fre­quent al­co­hol con­sump­tion, poor nutrition, seden­tary life­style are some of the com­mon causes at­trib­ut­able to the preva­lence of chronic ill­nesses such as can­cer, di­a­betes, heart con­di­tions. These has per­turbed cor­po­rate Amer­ica as they lead to a waned qual­ity of life, dis­abil­ity, and pre­ma­ture death. More­over, this ill­nesses once as­so­ci­ated with older age groups, has shifted to­wards the work­ing age, adding up to the eco­nomic bur­den due to ab­sen­teeism, re­duced per­for­mance while still at work (pre­sen­teeism), and ill­ness-re­lated pro­duc­tiv­ity loss.

Out of con­cern about the im­pact of health re­lated prob­lems, to­day, more than 80% of Amer­i­can work­ers who work for or­ga­ni­za­tions with 50 or more em­ploy­ees have ac­cess to a well­ness pro­gram. Com­monly re­ferred to as cor­po­rate well­ness pro­grams or work­place well­ness pro­grams, they aim to pre­vent the on­set of dis­eases, or to di­ag­nose or treat them at an early stage. Early stage pre­ven­tion of these ill­nesses ad­dresses health-re­lated be­hav­iors and risk fac­tors – for ex­am­ple, by en­cour­ag­ing an obese em­ployee a diet of lower caloric food. Sec­ondary stage pre­ven­tion is aimed to im­prove dis­ease con­trol by pro­vid­ing medication ad­her­ence to avoid symp­toms ex­ac­er­ba­tions.

A range of ben­e­fits are of­fered un­der the work­place well­ness pro­grams, from multi-com­po­nent pro­grams to ben­e­fits of­fered through a ven­dor. Ac­cord­ing to a RAND em­ployer sur­vey, more than 50% of em­ploy­ers in the U.S. of­fer well­ness pro­mo­tion pro­grams. The sur­vey noted that more than 80% of em­ploy­ers with an em­ployee well­be­ing pro­gram screen em­ploy­ees for their health risks, and use the re­sults for well­ness pro­gram plan­ning and for di­rect­ing em­ploy­ees to pre­ven­tive in­ter­ven­tion that ad­dress this risks.

In ad­di­tion to the pre­ven­tive in­ter­ven­tion that em­ploy­ers pro­vide, they also of­fer health pro­mo­tion ac­tiv­i­ties (86%), such as health food op­tions, vac­ci­na­tions, and other ben­e­fits, such as Em­ployee As­sis­tance Plans as well as on-site med­i­cal check-ups (61%). Com­pa­nies have in­sti­tuted work­place well­ness pro­grams as a way to re­duce healthcare costs. Even so, nu­mer­ous stud­ies show that nur­tur­ing em­ployee health and well­ness has a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on pro­duc­tiv­ity, which, di­rectly im­pacts com­pany profitabil­ity. A re­cent pa­per by Har­vard re­searchers who re­viewed 36 stud­ies of cor­po­rate well­ness pro­grams, noted that for every dol­lar spent on well­ness pro­grams, the com­pany med­i­cal costs fell about $3.27. The study also found that ab­sen­teeism - re­lated costs fell about $2.73 lead­ing to greater pro­duc­tiv­ity.

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