- Teleworking and flex-schedule policies
- Job-sharing, phased retirement options
- Healthy commuting supports and incentives
- Smoke-free building and campuses
- Healthy foods, healthy meetings and green/sustainable environments policies
- Peer support and mentoring programs
- Policies promoting volunteering and community service
- Time off work for health promotion, physical activity, screenings, healthcare visits
- Robust non-discrimination, diversity and cultural awareness/sensitivity programs
- Continuing education, distance learning, and other training supports
- Incentives for health program participation and engagement
- Healthier employees are less likely to call in sick or use vacation time due to illness
- Companies that support workplace health have a greater percentage of employees at work every day
- Because employee health frequently carries over into better health behavior that impact both the employee and their family (such as nutritious meals cooked at home or increased physical activity with the family), employees may miss less work caring for ill family members as well
- Similarly, workplace health programs can reduce presenteeism — the measurable extent to which health symptoms, conditions, and diseases adversely affect the work productivity of individuals who choose to remain at work
The cost savings of providing a workplace health program can be measured against absenteeism among employees, reduced overtime to cover absent employees, and costs to train replacement employees.
Example – Employee Health Concern: Obesity
- Obese employees experience higher levels of absenteeism due to illness than normal weight employees
- Normal-weight men miss an average of 3.0 days each year due to illness or injury
- In comparison, overweight and obese men (BMI 25-35), miss approximately 2 more work days per year than normal-weight men, a 56% increase in missed days
- Normal-weight women miss an average of 3.4 days each year due to illness or injury
- In comparison, overweight women miss 3.9 days, a 15% increase in missed days; obese women (BMI greater than 30) miss 5.2 days, a 53% increase in missed days; and women with a BMI of 40 or higher miss 8.2 days, a 141% increase in missed days, almost one week more of missed work each year than normal-weight women
Employee wellness programs have often been viewed as a nice extra, not a strategic imperative. But the data demonstrate otherwise, according to Berry, of Texas A&M University; Mirabito, of Baylor University; and Baun, of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Their research shows that the ROI on comprehensive, well-run employee wellness programs is impressive, sometimes as high as six to one.
Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes – are responsible for 7 of 10 deaths among Americans each year. Treatment for people with chronic conditions account for more than 75 percent of the more than $2.5 trillion spent on annual U.S. medical care costs. Obesity is a significant health care cost driver – in 2008, about $147 billion of medical bills were weight-related. With disease risk often related to economic, social, and physical factors, too many people engage in behaviors – such as tobacco use, poor diet, physical inactivity, and alcohol abuse – that lead to poor health and contribute to chronic disease.
The indirect costs of poor health—including absenteeism, disability, and reduced work output—may be several times higher than direct medical costs. Productivity losses related to personal and family health problems cost U.S. employers $1,685 per employee per year, or $225.8 billion annually.
Implementing and expanding evidence-based workplace health promotion programs will offer our nation the opportunity to not only improve the health of Americans, but also control health care spending. Evidence shows that workplace health programs have the potential to influence social norms; establish health policies; promote healthy behaviors; improve employees’ health knowledge and skills; help employees get necessary health screenings, immunizations, and follow-up care; and reduce their on-the-job exposure to substances and hazards that can cause diseases and injury. When done well, using evidence-based and best practices, comprehensive worksite health programs can yield on average a $3 return on every dollar spent, over a 2-5 year period.