A study has been recently published in Preventing Chronic Disease that examines the effects of smoking, inactivity, obesity, hypertension and diabetes on workday absenteeism. The findings suggest that an estimated 1 to 2 absentee days per individual per year were incurred in the employees with those conditions, a total of $2 billion per condition annually in absenteeism costs. Another study showed a decline in medical claim costs of $1,421 per participant in a workplace wellness program compared to the year prior. It has been explained in a Harvard Business Review article that for every dollar that a company invests in employee wellness interventions, it yields $6 in healthcare savings.
Besides saving boatloads of money in employee absenteeism and the sky-high medical costs associated with treating these conditions, healthier employees yield higher productivity. Less time is wasted making doctor’s appointments, resting, and taking breaks due to fatigue. Better emotional health from increased physical activity leads to clearer thinking and better decision making. What employer wouldn’t want that out of their employees?
The most favorable benefits are not easily measurable with scientific data. The overall morale of the employees has the opportunity to improve. The workplace culture changes for the better into a more positive atmosphere. Employees feel cared for and appreciated when they are given opportunities within a work day to improve their health. Working 40-60 hours every week already impedes family time, taking care of the home, enjoying hobbies and all of the other amazing parts of life, and the few hours that your employees have outside of work are often spent doing anything but taking care of themselves. There’s just not enough time!
Having a Registered Dietitian come into your workplace to teach nutrition classes at “Lunch and Learn” sessions, advocate for healthier available workplace food and snack options, provide one-on-one disease management counseling for employees during working hours, putting in place exercise challenges for employees to participate in to increase physical activity, and placing health education information in break rooms and email newsletters for individuals to be exposed to during their working hours are great ways to help your employees prevent and treat chronic disease, save money in healthcare costs and absenteeism, and improve productivity and morale.
If you are an employee that wants an opportunity for a healthy lifestyle brought into your place of work, forward this to your employer and advocate for your health. If you already have programs in place where you work, how are they going? Do you feel like they are beneficial? What do you think could be improved in your wellness program?