What is Worksite Wellness?
Creating a healthy work environment that makes it easier for employees to make healthy choices. Maintaining a healthier workforce can lower direct costs such as insurance premiums and worker’s compensation claims, and positively impact many indirect costs such as absenteeism and worker productivity. To achieve these goals, DSHS has developed a model wellness program with the following objectives:
- Promote the use of preventive screenings and services
- Motivate employees to eat healthy
- Support physical activity among employees
- Improve tobacco prevention, cessation policies and benefits
- Educate employees about stress management
- Increase the use of Employee Assistance Program benefits
- Raise support for breastfeeding mothers
Why support Worksite Wellness?
A positive wellness culture in the workplace contributes to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of workers. The workplace becomes more productive and constructive when employers integrate breaks for rejuvenation. It also helps to establish clear and reasonable roles and responsibilities and respect the time and talents of individuals and their non-work demands.
What’s the Business Case for Worksite Wellness?
Medical expenses for an obese employee in the US are estimated to be 42 percent higher than for a person with a healthy weight. Nationally, each employee who smokes costs his/her employer an extra $3,383 per year, including $1,760 in lost productivity and $1,623 in additional medical expenses.
Substantial evidence exists demonstrating that employee wellness programs can achieve cost savings and produce major returns on investment. This evidence comes from case studies of individual programs, in addition to a series of systematic reviews of the literature that employed strict conditions for inclusion and gave more credibility to studies with the strongest methods. Estimated Return on investments (ROI) across these studies ranged from 1.49:1 to 4.7:1, with most collecting around a $3 return for every $1 invested in the program over a multi-year period.
Increased productivity, reduced absenteeism, and lower turnover can generally be seen within the first year of a program's implementation. Measurable health plan savings may be seen in as little as two years if effective wellness initiatives are implemented and if employee participation is significant. Full savings may take five years or longer.
Reducing health risk factors through prevention efforts is a proven method. More than 80% of small employers and almost all large employers offer some form of health promotion or wellness program. However, success depends on the wellness program's quality and strategy in terms of completeness, encouragement structure, and focus on worksite policies and environment.