Worksite Wellness Programs May Retain Employees, Reduce Absenteeism

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Businesses across the country are struggling in these economic times to maintain a productive, energetic workforce while keeping overhead costs low. Research shows a direct correlation between effective workplace health programs and improved employee performance. Two recent studies highlight the benefits of implementing a worksite wellness program in retaining employees and reducing absenteeism.

Emory University Rollins School of Public Health presented findings at the American Public Health Association annual meeting in Philadelphia on November 11, 2009. They found that worksite wellness programs that included weight management interventions were successful in reducing absenteeism at Dow Chemical Company. Of those who participated in either a moderate or intense intervention, the average days of lost work days due to illness decreased from 3.9 days in 2006 to 3.4 days in 2007.

The Principal Financial Group released findings this week from their “Well-Being Index” which monitored job satisfaction among employees at small to medium sized companies. 45% of Americans working said that they would stay at their jobs longer because of employer-sponsored wellness programs.

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The survey also found that 40% of workers were encouraged to work harder and perform better. 26% missed fewer days of work by participating.

“Wellness programs are clearly a win-win, especially at a time when employers and their employees are more budget conscious,” said Lee Dukes, president of Principal Wellness Company. “Employers benefit by retaining top talent, energizing their employees, and reducing the number of sick days. Employees benefit from improved physical health, reduced stress in the work place and the financial benefits of a healthy lifestyle.”

When asked about the most beneficial programs that a company can offer to its employees, most of those surveyed focused on fitness. 27% would like in-office fitness facilities, 23% preferred discounts at local fitness centers, and 19% would like complete weight management programs that also included a dietary component.

Companies can benefit in other ways from adopting worksite wellness programs. Healthier employees mean a reduction in demand for medical services and other related costs. On the job injuries are reduced as well as worker’s compensation payments. Disability costs are also reduced, as employees reduce their incidence of heart disease, diabetes, mental health issues, and obesity.

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